Mind Control

The science-induced fictional obsession with controlling the minds of others proliferated in the US following the discoveries of Franz Anton Mesmer early in the nineteenth century.  Mesmer discovered what he called animal magnetism (mesmerism), and the evolution of his ideas and practices led to the development in 1842 of hypnosis, to ‘mesmerise’.

Many science fiction tales have featured mind control, both through natural and artificial means.  Ford McCormick’s March Hare Mission (1951) imagined a mind control drug, ‘nepenthal’, which wiped clean the recipient’s short-term memory.

Arthur C Clarke described a mechanical method for manipulating the mind in Patent Pending, a 1954 story that envisaged the recording of memory and thoughts for later use.  Michael Crichton’s The Terminal Man (1972) experimented with a similar idea.  The novel’s neuroscientists attempt brain control through electrode implants.

In real life, methods of coercive persuasion (brain washing) have been used to reverse a person’s convictions.  Through the use of different agents of manipulation, natural and mechanical, control can be achieved of all a subject sees, hears, reads and experiences.  They can even penetrate what we might call inner conscience.  Thus it was that ‘messiah’ Jim Jones led 900 of his followers to mass suicide at his commune in 1978.

Designed by Forte Web Solutions