Brainwashing is a process of manipulation that aims to change the beliefs or behavior of a person.
Brainwashing can be achieved through social pressures, threats, rewards, or an environment that limits access to information.
Most people are wary of others who have been brainwashed as they tend to display irrational beliefs and unusual behavior.
While it may seem obvious if someone has been brainwashed, spotting someone who has undergone such a process isn’t always so simple.
If you suspect that someone you know has been brainwashed, there are various ways in which to tell.
Keep reading to learn more about spotting a brainwashed person:
1) Be on the lookout for sudden behavioral changes
Most people who have undergone a brainwashing process will go through some form of behavioral change.
If the person in question has undergone a sudden behavior change, they may have been brainwashed.
Behavioral changes to look out for include:
- a sudden change in beliefs
- withdrawing from friends
- an increase in religious or political views
- or showing signs of dependency.
When it comes to religious brainwashing, people often undergo a sudden personality change. This change is known as the “new person” transformation, whereby the person undergoes a drastic personality change after being “born again.”
When it comes to political brainwashing, people often undergo a sudden change in attitudes toward other political parties or the world.
2) Look for signs of isolation
If you suspect that someone has been brainwashed, look for signs of isolation. This could include speaking to only one person or group of people while avoiding others.
For example, in the case of religious brainwashing, the person may isolate themselves from friends, family, and other people who don’t share their views.
This could be due to their desire to spend more time with people who share their beliefs, or because they’re afraid of the reactions of others.
3) Check for signs of abuse
Here’s something else to look out for: signs of abuse.
You see, a victim of abuse is more likely to undergo a brainwashing process. This is because abused people are more likely to accept the new beliefs of their abuser, as they are desperate for the abuse to stop.
This could include physical abuse, verbal abuse, or psychological abuse.
The abuser may try to manipulate their victim into changing their beliefs or behavior so that they can remain in a position of power.
If you suspect that a person is being abused, it’s vital that you take action immediately. Abuse is a serious problem that may negatively impact a person’s mental health.
4) Look for signs of dependency
Another sign that someone has been brainwashed is their sudden dependency on the person brainwashing them.
This could be anyone from a family member to a cult leader to a religious figure to any kind of authoritative figure.
They may depend on the person for almost everything, including food, shelter, and health care.
People who have been brainwashed are often desperate for the approval of the person who brainwashed them. They may try to please their “mentor” by doing whatever they ask.
What’s more, they may not feel that they have a choice in the matter and may think that they are doing this as a service for the person who brainwashed them.
A person who has been brainwashed may tell you that they have no choice in the decisions that they make. They may insist that they don’t have a say in what they eat, how they dress, or when they sleep.
If you notice that a person has no control over their own life, they’ve almost certainly been brainwashed.
5) Look for signs of fanaticism
Do you think you have spotted signs of fanaticism in this person you suspect of being brainwashed?
A fanatic is someone who strongly believes in something, often without evidence.
This can mean being extremely committed to an idea or cause, having a strong emotional attachment to something, or being overly influenced by something.
For example, some people are so devoted to a particular political party that they refuse to listen to any other viewpoints or consider other points of view. In some cases, this can lead to extreme behaviors such as violence or terrorism.
So if this person has extreme views that are difficult to challenge and they’re intolerant of other people’s views and opinions, it’s quite possible that they have been brainwashed.
They may also have very strong feelings about the person who brainwashed them.
6) Watch for discrepancies in what they say and what they do
Next, watch for discrepancies in what they say and what they do.
If a person has been brainwashed, they may say one thing, but do another. People who have been brainwashed may tell you how much they love their “mentor”, but their actions may contradict their words.
If a person has been brainwashed, they are likely to act in a way that benefits their “mentor” and they may ignore their own needs. If a person has been brainwashed, they may act in ways that contradict the beliefs that they previously held.
For example, a person who was once against social injustice may now be participating in a protest that is against social equality.
7) Check for signs of withdrawal
Often people who have been brainwashed may withdraw from the things that they previously enjoyed.
For example, they’ll lose interest in hobbies that they once loved, and instead, they may start to spend more time with the person who brainwashed them.
Here’s another thing:
A person who has been brainwashed will avoid spending time with people who disagree with their “mentor.” They may feel uncomfortable when their friends or family members disagree with the person who brainwashed them. They may see it as some form of attack.
8) Notice if they say “yes” to everything
People who have been brainwashed tend to say “yes” to everything that their mentor or group leader says. It’s like they have no free will.
If you point out what they’re doing they may just get upset. If you question the thing they are agreeing to they may even stop talking to you.
How to recognize brainwashing tactics
Brainwashing is an intense, systematic process that is deliberately designed to break an individual and reshape their thinking. It usually involves isolation, manipulation, and constant monitoring.
The term “brainwashing” has a negative connotation and is often associated with schemes such as kidnapping, imprisonment, and deprivation of liberty.
However, there are different types of brainwashing, including thought reform or coercive persuasion.
If you think that you or someone close to you is being brainwashed, here are some brainwashing tactics to look out for:
1) Brainwashers pray upon the vulnerable
The first step in any brainwashing process is to identify the people who are most vulnerable to it.
Brainwashers often pray upon those who are already weak or vulnerable through mental illness, drug addiction, isolation, or other factors.
For example, cults often recruit people on the edge of society and those who are most in need of a sense of belonging.
2) Thought reform
A core element of brainwashing is the reeducation of an individual to change their beliefs, values, and desires.
Thought reform programs seek to reshape an individual’s worldview and are often used in the context of political ideology. Such programs aim to reprogram how individuals think and view the world around them.
This is done by isolating the individual and controlling the conditions of their environment. This creates a sense of dependency and vulnerability, as well as a feeling of inescapability.
3) Coercive persuasion
Coercive persuasion is a type of brainwashing that aims to control and exploit people for the benefit of an organization. Such groups may be political, religious, or commercial.
It is also referred to as psychological manipulation, deception, and thought control.
The main goal of this kind of brainwashing is to get people to willingly do things that they would otherwise not want to do.
The techniques used in coercive persuasion, which include the use of verbal commands and psychological pressure, threats, and abuse, are designed to break an individual’s will and get them to voluntarily do things that they would not normally do.
The use of isolation is a powerful tactic of brainwashing.
The idea is to cut people off from external sources of information and weaken their ability to resist suggestions by other individuals.
Isolation can be physical, such as being kept in a room or house without access to the outside world.
It can also be psychological, such as controlling what information a person receives.
Brainwashers often control what a person reads, sees, and hears to ensure that their message is the only one that enters the victim’s mind.
They might also cut the victim off from family and friends.
In some cases, brainwashers might use physical abuse as a threat to ensure that the victim stays isolated.
5) Constant monitoring
Brainwashers often monitor the thoughts and actions of their victims to allow them to respond and reinforce their new beliefs.
This can take place both in public and private.
In some cases, brainwashers will publicly shame those who do not comply with the group’s beliefs.
They might also publically honor those who adhere to their ideals. The constant monitoring will often be coupled with psychological monitoring.
Brainwashers might also use social media and other ways of communication to access their victims’ thoughts. They might also use deception to access their victims’ thoughts.
6) Attacks on self-esteem
Brainwashers often undermine their victim’s sense of self-worth.
They do this by pointing out the victim’s flaws, criticizing their actions, and putting them down.
This creates an environment where people feel unworthy and incapable of standing up for themselves. This is important because a person who feels unworthy has fewer psychological defenses.
As a result, it is easier for them to accept new beliefs and conform to a certain way of thinking.
7) Manipulation by shaping beliefs and behaviors
Ideologies often take time to develop and are not instantly accepted by everyone.
Brainwashers, however, use techniques such as shaping to manipulate people and get them to accept their new beliefs. Shaping refers to the process of rewarding small steps towards an ideal and punishing deviation.
For example, brainwashers might reward their victims when they start acting in a certain way or believe certain ideals. They might also punish them when they act in an “unacceptable” way.
Through shaping, brainwashers slowly get their victims to accept their ideology, often without them realizing what is happening.
8) Exhaustion and deprivation
In some cases, brainwashers will intentionally deprive their victims of sleep and food.
This is a method of getting someone to do as they wish. The brain has a limited amount of energy and can only function for a certain amount of time before it needs rest.
When a person is exhausted, they are less likely to resist the suggestions of others. This is particularly true if the person is emotionally or mentally stressed.
Brainwashers often combine exhaustion with other methods of brainwashing, such as attacks on self-esteem, to break a person’s spirit and make them more susceptible to their suggestions.
9) Confession and repentance
There are many ways to manipulate people and get them to accept a certain set of beliefs.
One of the oldest and most effective ways to do this is through confession and repentance – often used in religious and cult brainwashing.
The brainwasher will get the victim to confess their sins and then promise to change their ways. Once the victim has confessed and repented, they feel as if they have changed their ways. The brainwasher then gets them to accept new beliefs and ideals.
The victim believes that they have changed their ways, but in reality, they were manipulated into accepting the brainwasher’s ideals.
10) Brainwashers often reward their victims
Although the techniques described above are abusive and manipulative, brainwashers often reward their victims after they have accepted their new beliefs.
This is a powerful way to reinforce new behaviors and beliefs.
For example, think about the lavish lifestyles of many Scientologists.
Brainwashers might also shower their followers with attention and praise for following the “correct” path.
Rewarding victims after they have accepted a certain set of ideals allows the brainwasher to reinforce their new beliefs and makes them harder to resist.
Here are five tips on how to help a loved one who has been brainwashed
If you have a loved one who has been brainwashed by some destructive group, you need to understand how they got there and what you can do about it.
1) Try to keep them away from their brainwasher
A vital part of helping someone who has been brainwashed is to keep them away from the brainwasher.
The only way to get them to see the truth is to stop the influence of the brainwashers.
If they were in a cult, try to convince them that the cult leaders are liars. If they’re part of a political group, try to show them that their ideology is wrong.
2) Make them question their new beliefs
Once someone has been brainwashed, their beliefs are often very intense and difficult to change. However, there are ways to get your loved one to question what they’ve been told.
Try to find ways to spark discussions about their new beliefs, and don’t shy away from challenging them.
You don’t have to be rude or mean about it, but you can ask them questions that challenge their beliefs.
Ask them to explain their beliefs in detail, and then ask them to explain why they believe what they do.
You can also try to change the environment around your loved one by putting up photos of their family or friends, playing their favorite music, or otherwise trying to make them feel like they’re in a more familiar and comfortable situation.
3) Give them support and value
Showing your loved one support and value for who they are can help get them out of their brainwashed state.
If they react badly when you try to challenge their beliefs, try to build them up instead. Make them feel like they’re valued, even if they don’t believe that themselves.
If your loved one was brainwashed by a cult, they may feel like they don’t belong in society anymore.
Try to show them that you still value them and that you want them in your life. You can help get them back to where they belong.
When someone has been brainwashed, their new identity is often very different from their old one.
Find ways to remind your loved one of who they used to be. You can do this by talking with them about their past and other things that remind them of who they used to be.
You can also try to find things that remind them of their old identity.
4) Encourage them to seek counseling
If your loved one has been brainwashed, it can be difficult for them to get out of that state of mind on their own.
You may not be able to help them on your own, that’s why it’s a good idea to encourage them to see a professional counselor who can help them navigate through what they’re going through.
A professional can help your loved one process their emotions and thoughts and get back to where they belong. They can also help your loved one process the events that led them to be brainwashed in the first place.
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