Wash or Washing is cleaning something out of dirt just like what is done to clean dirty clothes with soap and water. Clothe Wash is familiar to everybody but brain wash is a different matter, altogether. Brainwash aims at cleaning the brain free of the ‘stuff’ perceived to be unnecessary, unwanted, unholy, unhelpful, inappropriate and or dis-allowable for someone or somebody or some group of ideologues. Brain wash is therefore totally different from cleaning dirty clothes with soap and water. Brainwash is not at all an easy task as compared to washing clothes with or without soap and water.
Brain consists of nerve cells which nurture and sustain invisible nerve connections which help formation of Sensations, Perceptions, Concepts and Memory. It is hard and even impossible to wash either the cells or the memory in the normal routine ways. Even in the case of serious injuries caused by accidents and illnesses where memory gets erased, it doesn’t constitute brain wash.
Brain wash involves deliberate action of a person or a group of persons for changing the thoughts, pursuits and beliefs of another person or group of persons against their will. Social influence to change one’s way of thinking without the person’s consent or permission amounts to brain wash. Suggestions and persuasions of someone directed at another who gets carried away by the suggestions and the persuasions also constitute brainwash. In the process, the suggestions and persuasions, depending upon victim’s mental stature, replace all or part of what the victim held in mind earlier. The entity that carries out the work of brainwash is brain-washer while the subject of brainwash can be called as brain-washee.
Brain wash also known as brain-washing, has many connotations: Brainwash controls the brain-washee; coercive persuasions are the common style of brainwash; the thoughts of the person or persons at whom coercive persuasions of brain wash is directed get slowly deformed; indoctrination process involved in persuasion causes impairment to the original mental calibre and the victim becomes unable to think and act freely and independently.
Brainwash changes moral values, beliefs, social interactions, rituals, behaviour, relationships and means of communication in individuals and group of individuals. In short, brain wash diminishes or totally destroys individuals’ freedom of thoughts, emotions and decision making prowess.
Social influence plays a major role in brain wash of the general public. In every body’s life, social influence takes place at every moment. Social influence is a collective way that changes people’s attitudes, behaviour and even beliefs. Outside the realm of social influence lies forceful dictate like “just do it or face the consequence”. That tactic is effectively used by extremist fanatic cults. They even apply physical harm and threat to life to get their nefarious intentions fulfilled through brainwash.
“Just do it” tantrum of brainwash is dictatorial in nature. Apart from extremists and fanatic cults, religious fanatics and power hungry political leaders, use the technique for selfish motives and establishing their supremacy. In modern times, persuasion and propaganda are usually deployed to brainwash the common man and the general public. As normal practice political parties use persuasive propaganda to brainwash the electorate and thereby to build a chain of followers to dance according to whims and fancies of the party they represent.
Neuroscience explains that brainwash takes place through the process of excitation and inhibition of nerve cells in the sensory centres in the cerebral cortex of the brain-washee victims. The process is executed by conditioned reflexes: Conditioned reflexes are those temporary nerve connections which are formed in the cerebral cortex after the organism is born. They develop as a result of repeat reactions of stimuli emanating from internal and external environments.
The formation of a conditioned reflex is well exposed by the famous experiments conducted by Dr. Ivan P. Pavlov, on his pet dog. While the hungry pet dog was being fed with food, the sound of a metronome was introduced in its auditory environs. After repeating the experiment for a number of times the food was withdrawn. Thereafter, when the metronome sound was introduced, the dog started salivating without the presence of food. The nerve connection which excited the salivary centre in the cerebral cortex of the dog in the absence of food was a conditioned reflex.
Conditioned reflexes formed in the nervous system may get erased and made ineffective by the process of inhibition which is equal and opposite to the responsive brain function of excitation.
Thoughts and behaviors of individuals or group of individuals are established by conditioned reflexes. Established mental attitudes and behaviour patterns get changed and then replaced by another set of thoughts and actions through the working of another set of conditioned reflexes. For that change, the reflexes which formed the earlier mental attitudes and behaviours have got to be deflected or erased. Such deflection and or erase are brought about by inhibition of the nerve cells in the sensory centres.
There are two types of inhibitions named ‘internal unconditioned inhibition’ and ‘external conditioned inhibition’. The brain wash tantrum of threat on the lines of ‘do it or face the consequence is the tool for internal unconditioned inhibition. Propaganda and persuasion techniques carry out brainwash through the working of external conditioned inhibition.
Throughout the history of mankind, brainwash has been part and parcel of existence: Whether one likes it or not, the truth remains unchanged: Brainwash continues to pervade individuals, Society and Nations. Dictatorial brainwash is the worst curse; it erodes human values; it makes individuals as slaves. Brainwash destroys freedom of thoughts and action. Irrespective of which way brainwash is effectuated, the result remains the same: Brainwash nullifies human values. Brainwash spreads shadow over the light of freedom of thought and it suppresses intellectual pursuits.