The Rape of The Mind: The Cold War Against the Mind (Excerpt)

9 Jul

At this very moment in our country, and elaborate research into motivation is going on, whose object is to find out why and what the buyer likes to buy. What makes him tick? The aim is to bypass the resistance barriers of the buying public. It is part of our paradoxical cultural philosophy to stimulate human needs and to stimulate the wants of the people. Commercialized psychological understanding wants to sell the public, to the potential buyer, many more products than he really wants to buy. In order to do this, rather infantile impulses have to be awakened, such as sibling rivalry and neighbor envy, the need to have more and more sweets, the glamour of colours, and the need for more and more luxuries. The commercial psychologist teaches the seller how to avoid unpleasant associations in his advertising, how to stimulate unobtrusively, sex associations, how to make everything look simple and happy and successful and secure! He teaches the shops how to boost the buyer’s ego, how to flatter the customer. The marketing engineers have discovered that our public wants the suggestion of strength and virility in their products. A car must have more horsepower in order to balance feeling of inner weakness in the owner. A car must represent one’s social status and reputation, because without such a flag man feel’s empty. Advertising agencies dream of universitas advertenisis, the world of glittering sham ideas, the glorification of mundus vult decipi, the intensification of snob appeal, the expression of vulgar conspicuousness, and all this in order to push more sales into the greedy mouths of buying babies. In our world of advertising, artificial needs are invented by sedulous sellers and buyers. Here lies the threat of building up a sham world that can have a dangerous influence on our world of ideas.

This situation emphasizes the neurotic greed of the public, the need to indulge in private fancies at the cost of an awareness of real values. The public becomes conditioned to meretricious values. Of course, a free public gradually finds it defenses against slogans, but dishonesty and mistrust slip through the barriers of our unconsciousness and leave behind a gnawing feeling of dissatisfaction. After all, advertising symbolizes the art of making people dissatisfied with what they have. In the meantime it is evident man sustains a continual sneak attack on his better judgment.

In our epoch of too many noises and many frustrations, many “free” minds have given up the struggle for decency and individuality. They surrender to the Zeitgeist, often without being aware of it. Public opinion molds our critical thoughts every day. Unknowingly, we may become opinionated robots. The slow coercion of hypocrisy, of traditions in our culture that have a leveling effect—these things change us. We crave excitement, hair-raising stories, sensation. We search for situations that create artificial fear to cover up inner anxieties. We like to escape into the irrational because we dislike the challenge of study and self-thinking. Our leisure time is occupied increasingly by automatized activities in which we take no part: listening to piped-words and viewing televised screens. We hurry along with cars and go to bed with a sleeping pill. This pattern of living in turn may open the way for renewed sneak attacks on our mind. Our boredom may welcome any seductive suggestion.

The Rape of the Mind; Joost A.M. Meerloo M.D.
The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing
(The Universal Library, Grosset & Dunlap New York ©1956) pp. 98-99

 

 

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