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July 1955

Brainwashing as a Factor in Psychiatric Illness: A Heuristic Approach

Author Affiliations

St. Louis

From the Department of Neuropsychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1955;74(1):11-16. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1955.02330130013003

The introduction of brainwashing into the armamentarium of propaganda methods is clearly fraught with social and political implications. However, primary in importance and causal in the sequence of these implications is the role of brainwashing in producing human behavior of a grossly aberrant or defensive type. This is because brainwashing is not merely a method of indoctrination but has as an integral component an extremely important determinant, that of forced behavior. Much has been written of this activity as a way of effecting the only mass desertion in the history of the U. S. armed forces, but little has been said of its significance in the possible future production of psychiatric syndromes in the thousands of returnees from Korean POW camps. This paper deals with a case of the latter. Rather than simply as a case study, it is presented primarily as a reconstruction of a method, "brainwashing"; an explanation

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