The term "brainwashing" was first used by the news correspondent Hunter in 1951 to describe the conversion process that American POWs had undergone in Chinese prison camps during the Korean war. He translated the term from the Chinese concept of hse nao, "wash brain." Actually, Mao Tse-tung used the term ssu-hsiang tou-cheng, or "thought struggle," as early as 1929 to denote what we now commonly refer to as "mind control," "thought reform," or "thought control" (Singer, 1995).
Thought control truly represents the dark side of social influence, as it combines compliance, persuasion, and propaganda tactics into a powerfully insidious form of coercive manipulation that robs an individual of his original identity and replaces it with another that the individual would not have freely chosen of his own accord. Thought control requires isolation of the individual from his normal social references, and is therefore best accomplished in a separatist group such as a cult.
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