Question and Answer on Mind Control

Todd Murphy


Question:

Do you think current research in neurotheology and magnetic
stimulation may have some political consequences. In other words, may they
become, in the hands or sects, malignant gurus or dictators, an instrument
of propaganda or brain control ? Or, on the contrary, ways to escape some
kind of control?

Answer:

First of all, it needs to be understood that there are already many kinds of
"mind control" in existence. Psychiatric medications allow the control of
emotions. There are compounds called nootropics that can enhance
intelligence, memory, and even creativity.

Meditation has helped many people to control the overall activity of their
minds. It can make the mind less busy. In fact, some meditation traditions
refer to the "monkey mind", and teach that their techniques can help to
overcome it. In prisons, solitary confinement is used as a punishment for
breaking prison rules, but in fact, it can often be a tool for breaking a
prisoner's sense of independence.

As for whether or not magnetic Brain stimulation can be used to control a
person's mind, I think the answer is no. Dr. Michael A. Persinger, together
with his colleague Laura Baker, has published studies describing their
success in using magnetic stimulation for patients who became
depressed following traumatic brain injury. The technology was quite
successful for that, and given that the direction of a person's thoughts
changes when they become depressed, it can be said to have controlled their
minds. But this is not much different from the effects of antidepressant
medications. Certainly it was more effective in that the patients did not
have to have sessions several times a day, the way they have to take
antidepressants.

But is this mind control? Perhaps. It depends on what you think of mind
control is.

If mind control is considered to be a way of doing propaganda, then the
answer is absolutely no.

The idea with mind control when used for propaganda purposes is to change
the way a person thinks. To change their opinions. So far, there is no
medication, or neural stimulation technique that can add or remove an idea
or opinion from a person's mind. Revolutionaries and fanatics are often
very high-energy people, but if you give them a medication that makes them
depressed and lethargic, they will still hold the same opinions. Instead of
being an excited fanatic, out in the streets, waving flags and shouting
slogans, you will have a depressed fanatic who will only hold a flag, and
may not much feel like waving it around.

You may wonder how close neuroscience is to be able to add a thought to a
person's mind. The answer is that even if you wanted to do that, you would
still have a long way to go from where the research has taken us up to the
present.

The closest any experiments have come to injecting a thought into a person's
mind was one done by Dr. Michael A. Persinger. In this experiment, he was
not trying to brainwash anybody. Rather, he was investigating a specific
psychic phenomena - the transmission of thoughts between two people.

In this experiment, two people who were intimate with one another (such as
romantic partners, or parents and children), came into the laboratory
together. One of them sat in one room, and looked at a series of pictures.
The other sat in an acoustic chamber and received magnetic
stimulation. The chamber was dark, and the subject wore a blindfold, so
that they were in complete darkness and total silence. When the signal, a
modulated 40 Hz magnetic field, was applied, the subject in the chamber
experienced imagery that was similar in its theme to the pictures the other
subject was looking at in a room a few meters away.

It needs to be understood that the subjects in this experiment had close
emotional bonds, and these relationships are very different from those that
appear between prisoners and their captors. In addition, it required a
special chamber, and the subjects were not in any special state of fear or
apprehension. They had no reason to "resist" the procedure.

Most importantly, it was the theme of the picture that got through, not its
exact imagery. Of course, there is a great deal of difference between a
visual image and a verbal thought. It may be possible to expose a person to
a thought or an idea using this technique, but that would not make anybody
agree with it. I am, like almost everyone else, opposed to the use of car
bombs as an instrument of political persuasion. If you took me, put me in
the acoustic chamber, exposed me to the modulated 40 Hz magnetic signal, and
got my mother to sit in another room and think about terrorist bombings, I
might find that I also had a thought on the same subject. But I would still
be against terrorism.

If you had my mother read the words "There is no God but God, and Mohammed
is his prophet", I might start thinking about Islam, but that would never
make me convert. I have my own opinions about Islam, and I would probably
think about it from my own perspective.

Of course, my mother would never participate in any attempts to brainwash
me.

If you want to change a person's ideas or opinions using
magnetic stimulation, you have to develop techniques so that an
interrogator, to whom I would probably be hostile, can stand in the place of
my mother. Now, I am very fond of my mother. You would also have to find a
way for me to have a positive response to the idea that I'm being exposed to
that the same time as the modulated 40 Hz magnetic signal. As things stand
now, an ugly or frightening idea, like becoming a suicide bomber, will still
be ugly or frightening, no matter how I am exposed to the idea.

Existing technology and experimental technique are still very, very far from
being able to propagandize me into believing something I do not believe.
They are so far from it that I doubt such techniques will ever existed in my
lifetime. I'm not sure it will ever exist at all.

To understand why it's so far from the possible, let's take a look at what
happens when we engage an emotionally charged thought.

First of all, the thought, especially if it's a political one, will be
expressed in words. That will activate language structures on the left side
of the brain. Then, the emotional tone of the thought will appear. That
will activate certain structures in the limbic system. Each thought, even
if it's expressed in words, will have connotations that have nothing to do
with its actual meaning. Many of these will not be easily expressed in
words. That means that in addition to language centers on the left side of
the brain, areas on the right side of the brain, where nonverbal information
is processed, will also be activated. If the political thought has anything
to do with the future (as in "come the revolution, we will all be free"),
then the frontal lobes will also be involved. There are limbic structures
that match our bodies state of tension or relaxation to our emotional
states, and these structures will be involved as well. Further, we will
have memories that relate to the content of any thought. Still other areas
in the limbic system are involved in memory retrieval, and these are
activated by our thoughts, too.

In order for someone to change my thoughts, they would have to make changes
in many, many parts of the brain. Not just parts of the brain, either.
Each structure in the brain, like the ones I just mentioned, is made of
millions of neurons. Many of these would have to change as well. It is
beyond the power of magnetic stimulation, or any other brain
stimulation technologies, to make the very exacting changes needed to turn
an idea I disagree with into one I accept.

Escaping the effects of mind control will be easier in principle, but so
far, it hasn't happened. The reason why removing mind control will be
easier than putting it in place using magnetic stimulation is
that, all other conditions being equal, its easier to disturb inhibitory
synaptic connections than excitory ones. Dr. Michael A. Persinger
discovered this after studying the effects of closed head injuries, but the
principle applies to issues of brainwashing. The political control of a
mind will mean forcing the mind to agree with something, even if it's not
true at all.

Laboratory studies with people with depression have found that depression
can be relieved using magnetic stimulation, and people with
depression often come to believe things that simply are not true. They may
believe themselves to be inherently inferior, or that they are "cursed".
When depression lifts, these ideas fall away. They are delusions, just like
the idea that God will reward a true believer with eternity in paradise for
killing himself, and a crowd of people along with him, to draw attention to
the fact that Israel exists on land to which the Arabs have a claim.

About 25 years ago, there was a sect that followed "The Guru Maharaj Ji".
Initiation into their group involved having the sides of their eyeballs
pressed lightly. This was offered as the Guru's Touch, and when the
initiates found that their eyes began to produce phosphines, they were
easily convinced that this was "the light of God".

In principle, it might be possible for an unethical guru to use
magnetic stimulation to facilitate altered states of consciousness without
the disciple knowing that it was being used. Magnetic stimulation has a very good track record for producing some very desirable
altered states of consciousness, and a guru could lie and say that he was
the source.

But the same thing could also be done using psychoactive substances. Assassins were once recruited by the same means. Hashish was given to disciples
in large doses, and the resulting euphoria and visions were offered as
samples of the bliss they would find in heaven after they had completed
their assassinations.

Magnetic stimulation has been used in laboratory settings to
produce a wide range of experiences, some of them quite dramatic. It also
exists in a version that can be used at home, called Shakti.

For an article on the neurobiology of religious terrorism, click
HERE

The question of whether or not these devices can be used for mind control
depends in part on how you define the word mind. The word is used in some
very loose ways. Sometimes it refers to consciousness. Sometimes it refers
to the sense of self. Sometimes it refers to our ability to hold specific
ideas and opinions. Sometimes it refers to our emotional responses to
things.

I'm discussing mind control here in its common meaning. The ability to
control specific ideas and opinions. Perhaps new possibilities for mind
control may appear in the future, and so I believe that even though it may
not exist now, it would still be wise for citizens to oppose its use by
their governments, so that the intellectual freedom people have now will not
be compromised.

Even people who really need to control their minds, such as those with
mental disorders, should have the right to choose how they do it. The right
of the schizophrenic to refuse medications that have unpleasant side effects
for them is not much different from the right of people to follow their
private religious choices.

If a mind cannot exist in freedom, then nothing can.


END.

 

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