by Thorsten J. Pattberg for The Saker Blog
This is Part 1 of a series
The easiest way to destroy a man in body and soul is to harm him in all ways and forms imaginable and claim it‘ll be good for him. This demonic logic, its inversion is telling him that doing good would actually be bad for him, creeps into our mammal brains through early childhood dreams.
In these particular childhood dreams, which all humans experience versions of, the paralyzed dreamer is the victim of a brutal injustice or a fatalistic accident; say he is being raped in the bushes or is being gradually squashed by a tank or cartwheel while a consolidating voice, maybe his mother or maybe a passer-by, is assuring him that “it’ll soon be over” and that “all will be fine.” This nightmare is the result of childhood trauma: an abusive experience, a great injustice, an incomprehensible horror… yet the world around us seems just fine with it!
All tyrants abuse their underlings‘ childhood traumas and tell them “it is for the best of you” and that “the pain goes away, I promise.” Only one more round of beating, one more war on terror, one more crackdown on dissidents, only one last state of emergency and we are through with it.
As adults we learn to cope. We tell ourselves that what does not kill us makes us stronger or that life is suffering anyway. If that’s what it is, and this experience is universally shared by most human beings, it follows that indeed we may inflict on each other the most horrible things and do not even need to pretend “it’s for your best,” because it goes without saying that it could not have been for anything otherwise.
Most readers will be aware of genocide, the destruction of a genus or group, and of homicide, the killing of a body. We know the many ways a group or a person can be eliminated: slowly through torture and poisoning, quickly through cuts, holes and strangling – murder! What remains a taboo in literature and the news though, is the various ways we are able to kill reason, logic and sanity – menticide!
This concise text will introduce to our distinguished readers the most deadly ways to subvert, to demoralize, to lobotomize and finally to liquidize someone‘s brains… until they are reduced to nothing more than another helpless Schizo Fran or Mona Loser ready for suicide or the local madhouse.
The term “brainwashing” became fashionable propaganda during the Cold War and the American stand-off with Communism. The Commies allegedly captured Americans and reprogrammed their minds so that they turned into traitors and double agents. How else could infallible authorities explain so many dissenters in their own ranks?
Since you actually had to be brainwashed to believe the United States was the greatest force for good in the universe, the term spread wide and far into the mainstream, film and radio. Although brainwashing camps were never found, neither in Vietnam nor in Korea or Afghanistan or Cuba or Venezuela or in the Soviet Union for that matter, the catchy term ‘brainwashing’ was now applied to any situation where victims passively endured impossibly ridiculous indoctrination, for example harmless Bible Studies in public schools. The real hard-core brainwashing, meanwhile, probably occurs not in the camps for prisoners of war, but in the thousands of small cults or cult-like households across the nation, that is: in families.
Granted, brainwashing can only ever work, just like most physical abuse ever works, if it remains undetected and unreported, and when the victim is completely isolated and absolutely dependent on his tormentor, for example the child to a single mother, or the house-maker to a wife-beater. The victim cannot leave the cult or the dysfunctional household, where his abusers control their victim’s every aspect of life, deprive him of sleep, money, friends, and outside information.
The cult leader systematically attacks the victim’s “ego” or “Self”, metaphorically beating it to a pulp. If the victim is a man, he is “not a man!”, if he has a job, his job “is not good enough” and if he has no job, he is “a bum or a loser”. Children who don’t have developed their own identity yet, are probably getting emotionally damaged for life. Their abusive mothers tell them they are “unlovable” and “a burden to everyone”. Their abusive fathers tell them they are “fags” and “pussies”. It doesn’t matter that none of it is true: the bird is killed by the bullets, don’t say that bullets just flew. No creature can survive such barrages of attacks for weeks, months and years. Soon, the psyche will doubt itself: “This is reality, I should never have been born.” The victims of classic narcissists, sociopaths and violent abusers will never be able to recover. Even if rescued by divine intervention or child protective services, they will forever feel emasculated, anxious, insecure.
The victims change mentally and physically. They hunch over, they pull their hair, they avoid eye contact, they develop tics and abnormal behavior, and their voices become soft and high-pitched. They have internalized that they are ugly, shallow, stupid, and that they have “shit on their fingers” and that they are undeserving of affection.
Once the Self has cracked this way, the abuser has total control over a human being. The victim’s mental health is shattered, she is probably on drugs or medical prescriptions by now, and she walks on eggshells every hour of the day not to provoke more psychological hostility from her master.
The abuser loses all respect and shows no empathy. On the contrary, he blames the victim: “Look what you made me do!” His victim is dehumanized and less worthy than a pet dog or a punching doll. A born abuser ignores what the victim says, or interrupts the victim at every sentence, attacks the victim for stuttering and mumbling, curses and berates the victim over the slightest mistake – and if it’s just her turning the sound of the TV down. When they step outside the house, he walks faster than his victim, or slower, stops as he pleases, changes direction. The victim throttles along as if by an invisible chord. Female abusers tend to control what their victims eat, what they do and where they go, when they go, including just getting up from the sofa and to the toilet or shower-room. They stoop through cupboards, bags, clothes, cellphones and even the garbage just to eliminate the victim’s dignity.
Formerly happy, confident children are turned into slacks, lacking motivation and sitting around, waiting to be insulted, mistreated and bossed around to their next chores. Their brain chemistry is messed up: constant stress, fear, panic attacks. Insomnia, depression, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders pile up. “You have always been a sick child!” They have given up on self-determination, because it will be met with gruesome retribution and punishment. So why try anything in life? They cannot do anything right, so they better stop trying.
Mental abuse starts early in any relationship. The signs are everywhere and if you miss those signs or ignore them, it will be at your own peril. Whether it is in an abusive household or in an abusive cult, the victims appear worm-like, soulless and schizoid. And just when you thought they couldn’t possibly shrink anymore, they start to become… invisible.
The author is a German writer and cultural critic.