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03/15/2003 Archived Entry: "How easy it is to brainwash somebody"

THE STUNNING RECOVERY OF ELIZABETH SMART, the 14-year-old girl kidnapped out of her bedroom last year in Salt Lake City, reminds me of two other stories that show how easily people surrender their individual will. Some folks have commented how strange it was that Elizabeth didn't just walk away during one of the many chances she got -- as if that showed that a kid snatched at knifepoint was somehow a willing participant.

I think we don't even begin to understand how easily human minds can be twisted by master manipulators.

The first story is that of Colleen Stan, The Perfect Victim, held captive for seven years, much of it under incomprehensible sexual torture, who eventually came to view herself as a sort of second wife to her married torturer.

The second story (which I must relate by memory, since it happened in the 1970s) was that of a reporter in California who, with the intention of investigating the Moonies, accepted the invitation they were then extending to spend a weekend at a church camp. By the end of a single weekend, this skeptic, this investigator, was so stressed out at the thought of leaving her new "friends" that she was panicked and vomiting.

And that's not even to mention the case of Patty Hearst, of course.

The reason I mention any of this is that I suspect our loyalty to the very government that is steadily taking our freedoms away is a form of Stockholm Syndrome:

An abuser traumatizes a victim (who does not believe they can escape, or truly can not) with a threat to the victim's survival. The traumatized victim, who perceives isolation from outsiders; who could provide nurturance and protection, must look to the abuser to meet those needs. If the abuser shows the victim some small kindness, the victim then must bond to the perceived positive side of the abuser, denying (or dissociating) the side of the abuser that produced the terror. The victim begins to work to see the world from the abuser's perspective so that they may know what keeps the abuser happy, thus helping to insure the victim's survival. As a result the victim becomes hypervigilant to the abuser's needs and unaware of their own.

Does that describe any tax-paying, state-educated supporters of omnipotent government that you know? Yes, if you're "good," the state will protect you -- from itself.

Posted by Claire @ 09:11 PM CST

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