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What is mind control?

A man passes an exhibit at the Wellcome trusts new 'Brains' exhibition at the Wellcome Collection on March 27, 2012 in London, England
A man passes an exhibit at the Wellcome trusts new 'Brains' exhibition at the Wellcome Collection on March 27, 2012 in London, England
Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Can someone control your mind without you knowing it? Are there techniques that can be used to influence masses of people to act in a certain way? The answer is yes, because it has happened before. But what if this mind control helps you to do something beneficial? Is it still considered mind control? According to an article entitled "Cults: Questions and Answers" From the International Cultic Studies Association, "Mind control (also referred to as 'brainwashing,' 'coercive persuasion,' 'thought reform,' and the 'systematic manipulation of psychological and social influence') refers to a process in which a group or individual systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator(s), often to the detriment of the person being manipulated.”

According to this definition there are two qualifiers that define brainwashing: The methods used to control are usually unethical and secondly, it also needs to be connected to some type of activity that is detrimental to the person being controlled. For example, since Johnny’s mother wanted Johnny to eat his vegetables she used group social pressure saying, “All the other kids ate theirs”, bribery or even guilt to make him eat those veggies. Is that bad? No, because these methods are not unethical and are not to his detriment. You will see these same techniques used on your job, with friends or family all the time.

Some have noticed these same types of methods used among Jehovah’s Witnesses and labeled it mind control. They believe that they are being mentally controlled to preach. It is true that the mind can be controlled, but not the heart. Jehovah’s Witnesses preach about their God because the Bible tells them so, it makes them happy and happiness comes from the heart. And this is why they have been successfully doing so for more than 100 years voluntarily.

Imagine there are two people, Mary and Jane, who are both engaged in an activity of baking cookies for their neighbors. They are both happy giving of themselves to others and in turn the recipients are likewise happy. It’s a win-win situation. But Mary does something to disqualify her from being able to make more cookies. At the same time, she realizes that both of them were being somewhat manipulated or coerced to sell those cookies. What is the best thing for her to do?

If she goes to all the neighbors saying that they were being brainwashed to bake those cookies, then it may very well scare the neighbors away from accepting those cookies. In fact, she can spend the rest of her life doing this. But the neighbors are now going to miss out on those great cookies and Mary is going to lose something that brought her the joy of giving. It’s true that her mind is free from any more influences to bake those cookies but her heart is sad and now is driven on the negative.

However Jane, on the other hand, supposedly continues to be manipulated to bake more cookies. But Jane is happy and continues to make others happy. Who is better off?
One thing is for sure: Jane and Johnny are both happy and better off because they are being “coerced” to do something beneficial for themselves, and don’t we all need a little of that?


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