Instruction Manual for Psychological Torture Now Online

The Manipulation of Human Behavior, published in 1961, contains techniques for interrogation and brainwashing. The book’s publication was sponsored by the US Air Force who were worried about what psychological techniques prisoners-of-war might face behind enemy lines. It contains chapters on:

  • The Use of Drugs in Interrogation
  • The Potential Uses of Hypnosis in Interrogation
  • Countermanipulation through Malingering

…and plenty of other fun subjects.

The book itself actually only contains reviews of the publicly available psychological literature on each of these gruesome techniques. The authors do point out, however, that it is likely that parallel, secret investigations have been carried out by police and intelligence agencies.

In terms of content it varies widely, starting out with a psychoanlytical meditation on people’s interest in psychological torture:

“The profound fascination of the topic under consideration may stem from the primitive, unconscious, and extreme responses to these problems, which gain expression in myth, dreams, drama, and literature. On the one hand, there is the dream-wish for omnipotence; on the other, the wish and fear of the loss of self through its capture by another. The current interest in problems of manipulation of behavior involves basic ambivalences over omnipotence and dependency, which, if projected, find a ready target in the “omniscient” scientist.”

 

While later we read the following hard-headed passage:

“…a constant supply of oxygen must be brought to the brain by the blood in the amount of approximately 50 cc per minute (40, 66, 102). The most common way by which the brain becomes deprived of oxygen is by failure of the circulation (65), which may be brought about by loss of blood from hemorrhage, by shock resulting from injury…”

 

It would sure be interesting to see the up-to-date equivalent of this ‘manual’.

There’s more discussion at Daily Kos.

 

About the author


Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 7 September 2007

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