The term “brainwashing” was first coined in the 1950’s during the Korean War. Also called “coercive persuasion,” is a severe form of manipulating someone without their desire, knowledge, and consent of the person being brainwashed. They do this by using various techniques and controlling the person’s physical and social environment.It was used to explain how totalitarian regimes were able to completely indoctrinate American soldiers through a process of torture and propaganda. But HCPs use some of these same techniques to control you so they can get their needs met by using their survival strategies (p. xx)
A partner who is trying to brainwash you (whether it’s conscious or subconscious) wants to know everything about you to manipulate your beliefs. They will want to find out what your strengths are, your weaknesses, whom you trust, who is important to you, and whom you listen to for advice. They will use all that information against you as part of the brainwashing process. Of special importance is their knowledge of who is in your support circle. They will systematically try to isolate you from friends and family, either by directly demanding you cut them off or indirectly by making it so difficult for you to talk to others you just give up.
Elements in the brainwashing process that apply to caretakers and HCPs include the following: 55P, I88
55P Signs That You Are Being Brainwashed (Without Even Knowing It), Janey Davies, B.A. 2017, the Learning Mind
I88 How Brainwashing Works, How Stuff Works, Julia Layton and Alia (sic) Hoyt, 2021
Controlling the environment: Most particularly, they try to control whether or not you get enough enough sleep. There is often the constant threat of physical harm, rages, threats, etc., which makes it more difficult for the caretaker to think critically and independently.
Stripping you of your identity: The HCP systematically breaks down the caretaker’s identity until they fall apart. The HCP constant attacks them for days, weeks or months until the caretaker becomes exhausted, confused and disoriented. In this state, their beliefs about themselves waver and the caretaker no longer knows what is true and what is false. The good news is that the brainwashing victim’s old identity is dormant, not erased by the process. Once the new identity stops being reinforced, the caretaker’s old attitudes and beliefs will start to return.
Constant criticism and blame: The HCP repeatedly and mercilessly attacks the caretaker for any “sin” the target has committed, large or small. He may criticize the target for everything from the way the caretaker chews to the caretaker’s extreme “badness,” which makes the caretaker feel a general sense of shame. The caretaker begins to believe that nothing they do is right. They’re not sure what they have done wrong; they just know they are wrong.
The Possibility of Salvation: Their are times when the HCP acts normal and even loving. They intermittently show the good parts of themselves, promise to go to therapy, or performs some act of kindness to the caretaker. The caretaker begins to hope again. I call it the “roller-coaster of hope” because it goes up and down depending on the HCP’s last treatment of them. This is called the “re-seduction.”
Accepting the HCP’s Beliefs: Now that the caretakes knows what is wrong with them, the HCP gives them an opportunity to redeem themselves by believing in the correctness of the HCP’s beliefs, doing what the HCP wants, and feeling the way the HCP wants them to feel. This gives the caretaker a way to scape their “badness.” All they need to do is apologize for their countless “sin” and promise not to commit them again.
At this point in the brainwashing process, the caretaker is in the same position of a person who has been interrogated by the police for hours and not allowed to go to the bathroom. At this point, the caretaker will agree to anything to stop the suffering. The caretaker rejects their old beliefs about themselves and adapts the HCP’s way of looking at everything. They pledge allegiance to the new belief system that is going to stop the HCP from abusing them. The HCP will test the caretaker many times to assure their new belief system is holding.
There are things you can do to stop yourself from being brainwashed:
• Never allow yourself to be isolated
• Don’t believe the hype
• Check with with family, friends, or a therapist about what your partner is saying so you can ground yourself in reality
• Don’t buy into fear or scare tactics
• Remember that your HCP has an agenda
• Look out for subliminal messages
• Follow your own path
• Don’t protect your partner by keeping the abuse a secret. This is what battered men and women do (for the very same reasons)
• Do your own research
• Listen to your own intuition
• Don’t follow the crowd
• Don’t be afraid to be different.
• Love yourself just the way you are (see I Love Myself The Way I Am (Jai Josefs): Hannibal Means – YouTube or I love myself the way I am / Jai Josephs – YouTube
• Remind yourself you need to keep your head straight for the sake of your children, who should be your first priority
• Keep in mind BPD and NPD are serious mental illness that greatly affect the perceptions of the person who has them