CHAPTER EIGHT -- TRIAL BY TRIAL
For the Special Marine Corps Court of Inquiry in Washington that had to judge one of the cases of brainwashing, I was asked, as an expert witness, if I could explain why some of the American officers yielded rather easily to mental pressure exerted by the enemy.
It was in the days when Congressional investigations in our country were in full swing. In all honesty I had to answer that sometimes coercive suggestions underlying such investigations could exert conforming pressure on susceptible minds. People are conditioned by numerous psychological processes in our daily political atmosphere.
Though we have been forewarned of what totalitarian techniques may do to the mind, there is reason to be alarmed by the possible disruption of values brought about by some of our own troubles.
The totalitarian dictator succeeded in transforming his apparatus of "justice" into an instrument of threat and domination. Where once a balanced feeling of justice had been recognized as the noblest ideal of civilized man, this ideal was now scoffed at by cynics -- like Hitler and Goebbels -- and called a synthetic emotion useful only to impress or appease people. Thus, in the hands of totalitarian inquisitors and judges justice has become a farce, a piece of propaganda to soothe the people's conscience. Investigative power is misused -- to arouse prejudices and animosities in those bystanders who have become too confused to distinguish between right and wrong.
The totalitarian has taught us that the courts and the judiciary can be used as tools of thought control. That is why we have to study how our own institutions, intentionally or unobtrusively, may be used to distort our concepts of democratic freedom.
The Downfall of Justice
To a psychologist, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Moscow purge trials between 1936 and 1938 was the deep sense of moral shock felt by people all over the world, whose trust in the judicial process was shaken to its foundations by these perversions of justice. Discussions about the trials always concerned themselves less with the question of guilt or innocence of the accused than with the horrifying travesty of justice the trials presented. Somewhere deep in the soul of men lies the conviction that a judge is, by definition, a righteous, impartial man, that an appeal to the courts is the road to truth, that the law stands above corruption, degradation, and perversion. Of course, we recognize that judges are human beings like ourselves, that they can make mistakes, as the rest of us do, and we are even willing to accept temporary injustice because we believe that there will be eventual vindication and that the rule of law and justice will remain triumphant. The moment the judicial process becomes a farce, a show to intimidate the people, something in man's soul is profoundly affected. When justice is no longer blind, but has her eye on the main chance, we become frightened and alarmed. To whom shall a man turn if he cannot find justice in the courts?
During the course of psychotherapy, one of my patients was called to jury duty. The experience disturbed him deeply, for apparently the prosecutor in this case was more interested in getting a conviction than in finding out the truth. Although the jury had the last word, and, by its verdict, condemned the prosecutor's strategy, our juror was greatly upset. "What happens," he asked me, "in other cases? Suppose the jurors cannot see through the lawyer's sophisms? Suppose they are taken in by his constant suggestion and insistence?"
Indeed, any trial can be used as a weapon of intimidation; it can, in a subtle way, intimidate the jurors, the witnesses, the entire public. In Totalitaria, some higher courts exist only to carry out this function of intimidation; their purpose is to prove to their own citizens and to the world at large that there is a punishing and threatening force controlling the government and that this force can use the judiciary for its own purposes.
An apparent objective official investigation may become a weapon of political control simply through the suggestions that inevitably accompany it. The man who is under investigation is almost automatically stigmatized and blamed because our suspicions are thrust on him. The very fact that he is under scrutiny makes him suspect. Thus, even the so-called "democratic power to investigate" may become the power to destroy. We must beware of this danger! Already the approving or disapproving way of interrogation changes man's thinking about facts.
Any judicial action, whether legal or investigative, which receives widespread publicity, exerts some mental pressure on the entire public. It is not only the participants in the action who have a stake in its eventual outcome, the citizens as a whole may well become emotionally involved in the proceedings. Any official investigation can be either a mere show of power or an act of truth. As a show of power, by a totalitarian government or by an unscrupulous demagogue, it can have frightening consequences. The German Reichstag fire case, the Moscow purge trials, and the court actions against our P.O.W.s in China are prime examples of "legal" action which served to consolidate the political power of ruthless men and had for their object confusion of a helpless citizenry. An additional intention was to shock the public opinion of the world.
If we look at legal inquiry from the point of view of each of its participants, we will see even more clearly the dangers we must guard against.
The Demagogue as Prosecutor and Hypnotist
Recent happenings in our own country indicate clearly that the methods used to satisfy a question for power show a universal pattern. The ancient magic masks used to frighten the people may have been replaced by an overconfident show of physical strength by a "hero" artificially shaped as an object of admiration and identification for infantile minds, but the loud noises of propaganda are still with us, magnified a thousandfold by the radio and television, and serving to intimidate and hypnotize our less alert contemporaries. A worldwide audience, watching and listening to the demagogue playing all his different roles -- the righteous accuser, the martyred victim, the voice of conscience -- is temporarily thrown into a semifrightend, trancelike state of exhausted inattentiveness through the monotonous repetition of threats, accusations, and cliches.
The demagogue, like the totalitarian dictator, knows well how to lay a mental spell on the people, how to create a kind of mass suggestion and mass hypnosis. There is no intrinsic difference between individual and mass hypnosis. In hypnosis -- the most intensified form of suggestion -- the individual becomes temporarily automatized, both physically and mentally. Such a clinical state of utter mental submission can be brought about quite easily in children and in primitive people, but it can be created in civilized adults, too. Some of the American P.O.W.s in Korean prison camps were reduced to precisely this condition.
The more the individual feels himself to be part of the group, the more easily can he become the victim of mass suggestion. This is why primitive communities, which have a high degree of social integration and identification, are so sensitive to suggestions. Sorcerers and magicians can often keep an entire tribe under their spell.
Most crowds are rather easy to influence and hypnotize because common longings and yearnings increase the suggestibility of each member of the group. Each person has a tendency to identify with the rest of the group and with the leader as well, and this makes it easy for the leader to hold the people in his grip. As Hitler said in "Mein Kampf," the leader can count on increasing submissiveness from the masses.
Sudden fright, fear, and terror were the old-fashioned methods used to induce hypnosis, and they are still used by dictators and demagogues. Threats, unexpected accusations, even long speeches and boredom may overwhelm the mind and reduce it to a hypnotic state.
Another easy technique is to work with specially suggestive words, repeating them monotonously. Arouse self-pity! Tell the people that they have been "betrayed" and that their leaders have deserted them. From time to time, the demagogue has to add a few jokes. People like to laugh. They also like to be horrified, and the macabre, especially, attracts them. Tell them gory tales and let them huddle together in sensational tension. They will probably develop an enormous awe for the man who frightens them and will be willing to give him the chance to lead them out of their emotional terror. In the yearning to be freed from one fear, they may be willing to surrender completely to another.
The Demagogue as Prosecutor and Hypnotist
Radio and television have enhanced the hypnotizing power of sounds, images, and words. Most Americans remember very clearly that frightening day in 1938 when Orson Welles's broadcast of the invasion from Mars sent hundreds of people scurrying for shelter, running from their homes like panicky animals trying to escape a forest fire. The Welles broadcast is one of the clearest examples of the enormous hypnosuggestive power of the various means of mass communication, and the tremendous impact that authoritatively broadcast nonsense can have on intelligent, normal people.
It is not only the suggestive power of these media that gives them their hypnotizing effect. Our technical means of communication make of the people one huge participating mass. Even when I am alone with my radio, I am technically united with the huge mass of other listeners. I see them in my mind, I unconsciouly identify with them, and while I am listening I am one with them. Yet I have no direct emotional contact with them. It is partly for this reason that radio and television tend to take away active affectionate relationships between men and to destroy the capacity for personal thought, evaluation, and reflection. They catch the mind directly, giving people no time for calm, dialectical conversation with their own minds, with their friends, or with their books. The voices from the ether don't permit the freedom-arousing mutuality of free conversation and discussion, and thus provoke greater passive acceptance -- as in hypnosis.
Many people are hypnophiles, anxious to daydream and day-sleep throughout their lives; these people easily fall prey to mass suggestion. The lengthy oration or the boring sermon either weakens the listeners and makes them more ripe for the mass spell, or makes them more resentful and rebellious. Long speeches are a staple of totalitarian indoctrination because finally the boredom breaks through our defenses. We give in. Hitler used this technique of mass hypnosis through monotony to enormous advantage. He spoke endlessly and included long, dull recitals of statistics in his speeches.
The din of constant verbal intimidation of the public is a recognized tool of totalitarian strategy. The demagogue uses this suggestive technique, too, as well as the more tricky maneuver of attacking opponents who are usually considered to be beyond suspicion. This maneuver is often combined with a renewed appeal to self-pity. "Fourteen years of disgrace and shame," was the slogan Hitler used to slander the very creative period between the Armistice in 1918 and the year he seized the helm. "Twenty years of treason," a slogan used in our country not too long ago, sounds suspiciously like it, and is all too familiar to anyone who watched Hitler's rise and fall.
The stab-in-the-back myth reduces everyone who is taken in by it to the level of suspicious childhood. This inflammatory oratory aims toward arousing chaotic and aggressive responses in others. The demagogue doesn't mind temporary verbal attacks on himself -- even slander can delight him -- because these attacks keep him in the headlines and in the public eye and may help increase people's fear of him. Better to be hated and feared than forgotten! The demagogue grows fat on prolonged and confused discussion of his behavior; it serves to paralyze the people's minds and to obscure completely the real issues behind his red herrings. If this continues long enough, people become fed up, they give in, they want to sleep, they are willing to let the big "hero" take over. And the sequel can be totalitarianism. As a matter of fact, Nazism and Fascism both gambled on the fear of Communisim as a means of seizing power for themselves. What we have recently experienced in this country is frighteningly similar to the first phase of the deliberate totalitarian attack on the mind by slogans and suspicions. Violent, raucous noise provokes violent emotional reactions and destroys mental control. When the demagogue starts to rant and rave, his outbursts tend to be interpreted by the general public as proof of his sincerity and dedication. But for the most part such declarations are proof of just the opposite and are merely part of the demagogue's power-seeking energy.
There is in existence a totalitarian "Document of Terror" which discusses in detail the use of well-planned, repeated successive WAVES OF TERROR to bring the people into submission. Each wave of terrorizing cold war creates its effect more easily -- after a breathing spell -- than the one that preceded it because people are still disturbed by their previous experience. Morale becomes lower and lower, and the psychological effect of each new propaganda campaign becomes stronger; it reaches a public already softened up. Every dissenter becomes more and more frightened that he may be found out. Gradually people are no longer willing to participate in any sort of political discussion or to express their opinions. Inwardly they have already surrendered to the terrorizing dictatorial forces.
We must learn to treat the demagogue and aspirant dictator in our midst just as we should treat our external enemies in a cold war -- with the weapon of ridicule. The demagogue himself is almost incapable of humor of any sort, and if we treat him with humor, he will begin to collapse. Humor is, after all, related to a sense of perspective. If we can see how things should be, we can see how askew they can get, and we can recognize distortion when we are confronted with it. Put the demagogue's statements in perspective, and you will see how utterly distorted they are. How can we possibly take them seriously or answer them seriously? We have important business to attend to -- matters of life and death both for ourselves as individuals and for our nation as a whole. The demagogue relies for his effectiveness on the fact that people will take seriously the fantastic accusations he makes; will discuss the phony issues he raises as if they had reality, or will be thrown into such a state of panic by his accusations and charges that they will simply abdicate their right to think and verify for themselves.
The fact is that the demagogue is not appealing to what is rational and mature in man; he is appealing to what is most irrational and most immature. To attempt to answer his ravings with logic is to attempt the impossible. First of all, by so doing we accept his battling premises, and we find ourselves trapped in an argument on terms he has chosen. It is always easier to defeat an enemy on your own ground, and by choosing your own terms. In addition, the demagogue either is, or pretends to be, incapable of the kind of logic that makes discussion and clarification possible. He is a master at changing the subject. It is worse than criminal for us to get ourselves involved in endless, pointless, and inevitably vituperative arguments with men who are less concerned with truth, social good, and real problems than they are with gaining unlimited attention and power for themselves.
In their defense against psychological attacks on their freedom, the people need humor and good sense first. Consistent approval or silent acceptance of any terror-provoking strategy will result only in the downfall of our democratic system. Confusion undermines confidence. In a country like ours, where it is up to the voting public to discern the truth, a universal knowledge of the methods used by the demagogue to deceive or to lull the public is absolutely necessary.
The Trial as an Instrument of Intimidation
Man's suggestibility can be a severe liability to him and to his democratic freedom in still another important respect. Even when there is no deliberate attempt to manipulate public opinion, the uncontrolled discussion of legal actions, such as political or criminal trials, in newspaper headlines and in partisan columns helps to create a collective emotional atmosphere. This makes it difficult for those directly involved to maintain their much-needed objectivity and to render a verdict according to facts rather than suggestions and subjective experiences.
In addition, any judicial process which receives widespread publicity exerts mental pressure on the public at large. Thus, not only the participants but the entire citizenry can become emotionally involved in the proceedings. Any trial can be either an act of power or an act of truth. An apparently objective examination may become a weapon of control simply by the action of the suggestions that inevitably accompany it. As an act of power by a totalitarian government, the trial can have frightening consequences. The Moscow purge trials and the German Reichstag fire case are prime examples.
We do not, of course, have such horrifying travesties on justice in this country, but our tendency to turn legal actions into a field day for the newspapers, the radio, and television weakens our capacity to arrive at justice and truth. It would be better if we postponed discussion of the merits of any legal case until after the verdict was in.
As we have already seen, any man can be harassed into a confession. The cruel process of menticide is not the only way to arrive at this goal; a man can be held guilty merely by accusation, especially when he is too weak to oppose the impact of collective ire and public opinion.
In circumstances of abnormal fear and prejudice, men feel the need for a scapegoat more strongly than at other times. Consequently, people can be easily duped by false accusations which satisfy their need to have someone to blame. Victims of lynch mobs in our own country have been thus sacrificed to mass passion and so have some so-called traitors and collaborators. In public opinion, the trial itself becomes the verdict of "guilty."
The Congressional Investigation
Let me first state that I firmly believe that the right of the Congress to investigate and to propose legislation on the basis of such investigation is one of the most important of our democratic safeguards. But like any other human institution, the Congressional right to investigate can be abused and misused. The power to investigate may become the power to destroy -- not only the man under attack, but also the mental integrity of those who, in one way or another, are witnesses to the investigation. In a subtle way, the current wave of Congressional investigations may have a coercive effect on our citizenry. Some dictatorial personalities are obsessed with a morbid need to investigate, and Congressional investigations are made to order for them. Everybody who does not agree with them, who does not bow low and submit, is suspect, and is subjected to a flow of vilification and vituperation. The tendency on the part of the public is to disbelieve everything that the demagogue's opponents say and to swallow uncritically the statements made by those who either surrender to his browbeating or go along with it because they believe in the aims he pretends to stand for.
PSYCHOLOGICALLY, IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE SIMPLE FACT OF BEING INTERVIEWED AND INVESTIGATED HAS A COERCIVE INFLUENCE. As soon as a man is under cross-examination, he may become paralyzed by the procedure and find himself confessing to deeds he never did. In a country where the urge to investigate spreads, suspicion and insecurity grow. Everybody becomes infected with the feelings of the omnipotence of the inquisitor. Wire tapping, for instance, has the same power; it is grasping the secrets of others.
In psychological circles a good deal of attention is now being given to the impact of interviews and interrogations on people. The psychological interviewer himself must be aware of the various interpersonal processes involved in this kind of communication; if he is not, he will not be able to find out where the truth lies. Instead he will get answers which are implicit in his own questions, answers which may have little relation to the real truth. This does not happen only in cases where both the interviewer and the man he is interviewing show bad faith. It can happen despite their best intentions. For everybody brings to an interview the sum total of all his earlier interpersonal relationships. In the initial verbal "trial and error," during what we could call the smelling-out period, each party mobilizes himself to find out what the other party expects and where his weaknesses are and, at the same time, tries to hide his own weaknesses and emphasize his own strengths. The man in the street who is suddenly interviewed tends to give the answer he thinks his questioner expects.
Every conversation, every verbal relationship repeats, at least to some degree, the pattern of the early verbal relationships between the child and its parents. To a man or woman under investigation, the interrogator becomes the parent, good or bad, an object of suspicion or of submission. Since the interrogator himself is often unaware of this unconscious process, the result can be a confusing battle of unconscious or half-conscious tendencies, in which the spoken words are often merely a cover for suspicion-laden conversation between deeper layers of both personalities.
All people who are systematically interrogated, whether in a court, during a Congressional inquiry, or even when applying for a job or having a medical examination, feel themselves exposed. This very fact in itself provokes peculiar defensive mental attitudes. These attitudes may be useful and protective, but at times they may be harmful to the individual. When a man is looking for a job, for example, he may become overeager, and in his zeal to "make a good impression" to "put his best foot forward," he may make a bad impression and arouse suspicion. For it is not only what we say but the way we say it that can indicate our honesty and poise. Nervous sounds, gestures, pauses, moments of silence or stuttering may give us away. Aggressive zeal may seduce us into saying too much. Inhibition may prevent us from saying enough.
The defendant in a court action or in an inquiry is defensive not only about the accusations leveled against him or the questions he has to answer, he is even more defensive about his own unconscious guilt and about his doubts about his own capabilities. Many of my colleagues in medicine and psychiatry who have been called as expert witnesses in legal actions have told me that the very moment they were under cross-examination, they felt themselves on trial and nearly convicted. Cross- examination seemed to them often less a way of getting at the truth than a form of emotional coercion, which did a great disservice to both the facts and the truth. This is the reason that every kind of investigative power can so easily become a coercive power. Making witnesses and defendants suffer from acute stage fright can be a nasty weapon of totalitarianism.
Because psychologists and psychiatrist appreciate these facts, there is now a strong tendency in these circles to use what we might call a passive technique in interviewing. When the interviewer's questions are not directed toward any specific answer, the man being questioned will be encouraged to answer on his own initiative, out of his own desire to communicate. The neutral question, "What did you do afterwards?" provokes a freer and more honest response than the question "Did you go home after that?"
The Witness and His Subjective Testimony
We have seen in recent years a long parade of recanting Communists, who have testified freely and openly about their pasts. Currently, we have still another kind of parade: the recanting recanters. How are we to know the truth from falsehood in all this morass of conflicting testimony? How are we to prevent ourselves from becoming confused by the contradictory testimony of men and women whose words can influence the course of our nation's actions? How are we to learn to evaluate what they say? Psychologically, how reliable is their testimony, whether friendly or unfriendly?
In general, we can say that those who are most vituperative in their statements are usually the least reliable. Many of them are men and women who in the past adopted a totalitarian ideology out of their own deep sense of inner insecurity. Later there came the moment when they felt that their chosen ideology had failed them. Though it had held their minds relentlessly imprisoned for a long time, at that point they were able to throw off the system completely. This they did through a process of inner rearrangement of old observations and convictions. However, what they shed was merely a particular set of rigid ideological rules. Most of them did not shed, along with these rules, their hidden hatreds and early insecurity. They may have given up the political ideology which offered them defenses and justifications, but they retained their resentments.
It is extremely common to find such people seeking immediate sanctuary in some other strictly organized institution. Because they now see things in a different light, old facts and concepts acquire a different significance. Yet, all the while, the ever-present urge toward self-justification and self-exculpation, which operates in all men and which in these cases motivated the former allegiance to Communism, is at work. Now they must prove their guiltlessness and their loyalty to their newly adopted ideas. Their emotions, now in new garb, are still directed toward the goal of self-justification.
In the eyes of the convert, the fresh outlook -- this new arrangement of inner demands and of ways of satisfying them -- is just as logical and rational as were his former set of expectations and satisfactions. Now he rediscovers several experiences long since past. His former friends become his enemies; some of them are seen as conspirators, whether they were or not. He himself is unable to distinguish between truth and fantasy, between fact and subjective demand. Consequently, a complete distortion of perceptions and memories may take place. He may misquote his own memories, and this process is for the most part one of which the convert himself is not aware. I remember vividly one example of such behavior during the Second World War. A former Nazi became a courageous member of the anti-Nazi underground. He sought to rectify his past behavior not only by fighting the Nazis, but also by spreading all kinds of anxiety-provoking rumors about his former friends. By making them appear more cruel, he thought he could show himself more loyal.
Similarly, the denials and misstatements that may be made by the convert before the courts or the Congressional committees are often not so much conscious falsehoods as they are products of the new inner arrangements. Every accusation about the convert's past may be twisted by him into a new tool for use in the process of self-justification. Only a few such men have the moral courage to admit that they have made real mistakes in the past. The distance between a white lie and selective forgetting and repressing is often very short. I discovered this for myself while carrying on investigations of resistance members who had been in Nazi hands. I found that it was almost impossible to obtain objective information from them about what they had revealed to the enemy after torture. Reporting upon their enforced betrayal, they immediately colored their stories by white lies and secondary distortions. Depending on their guilt feelings, they either accused themselves too much or found no flaw at all in their behavior.
The Right to Be Silent
Out of the action of Congressional investigating committees has recently come a serious legal attack on the right to be silent when the giving of information clashes with the conscience of the one on the stand. This attack can become a serious invasion of human privacy and reserve. Undermining the value of the personality and of private conscience is as dangerous to the preservation of democracy as is the threat of totalitarian aggression.
We have to realize that it is often difficult for witnesses to make a choice between contempt of Congess and contempt of human qualitites. Administrators may conceivably discover a few alleged "traitors" by compelling witnesses to betray their former friends, but at the same time they compel people to betray friendships. Friendship is one of our most precious human possessions. Any government or agency that, under the guise of "contempt of Congress," can force confessions, and information can also force the betrayal of former loyalties. Is this not comparable with what the coercive totalitarians do? And at what cost?
We obtain a pseudo-purge resulting from weakness of character and anxiety in the victim. In addition we violate one of democracy's basic tenets -- respect for the strength of man's character. We have always believed that it is better to let ten guilty men go free than to hang one innocent -- in direct opposition to the totalitarian concept that it is better to hang ten innocent men than to let one guilty man go free. We may punish the guilty with this strategy of compelling a man to speak when his conscience urges him to be silent, but just as surely we break down the innocent by destroying their conscience. Supreme Court Justices Douglas and Black in their dissenting opinion about the constitutionality of the Immunity Act of 1954 [See "The New York Times," March 27, 1956] emphasize the right to be silent as a Constitutional right given by the Fifth Amendment -- a safeguard of personal conscience and personal dignity and freedom of expression as well. It is beyond the power of Congress to compel anyone to confess his crimes even when immunity is assured.
The individual's need NOT to betray his former allegiances -- even when he has made a mistake in political judgment at an age of less understanding -- is morally just as important as the need to help the state locate subversives. Let us not forget that betrayal of the community is rooted in self-betrayal. By forcing a man to betray his inner feelings and himself, we actually make it easier for him to betray the larger community at some future date. If the law forces people to betray their inner moral feelings of friendship, even if these feelings are based on juvenile loyalties, then that very law undermines the integrity of the person, and coercion and menticide begin. The conscience of the individual plays an enormous role in the choice between loyal opposition and passive conformity. The law has to protect the individual also against the violation of his personal moral standards; otherwise, human conscience will lose in the battle between individual conscience and legal power. Moral evaluation starts with the individual and not with the state.
The concept of brainwashing has already led to some legal implications, and these have led to new facets of imagined crime. Because the reports about Communist brainwashing of the prisoners of war in Korea and China were published widely in newspapers, they aroused anxieties among lay people. As mentioned in Chapter Three, several schizophrenics and borderline patients seized upon this rather new concept of brainwashing, using it as an explanation for a peculiar kind of delusion that beset them -- the delusion of being influenced. Some of these persons had, as it were, the feeling that their minds had been laid open, as if from the outside, through radio waves or some other mystic communication, thoughts were being directed.
During recent years, I received several letters from such patients complaining about their feelings of continual brainwashing. The new concept of political mental coercion fitted into their system of delusions. Several lawyers consulted me for information about clients who wanted to sue their imaginary brainwashers.
The same concept, used above to account for pathological suspicions, could be used maliciously to accuse and sue anybody who professionally gave advice to people or tried to influence them. At this very moment (fall, 1955) several court procedures are going on wherein the defendants are being sued for the crime of brainwashing by a third party. They are accused of having advised, in their professional capacity, somebody to do something against the plaintiff's interests. The shyster lawyer is now able to attack subtle human relationshpis and turn them into a corrupt matter. This is the age-old evil of using empathy not for sympathy but for antipathy and attack. In so doing, the accuser may misuse a man's hesitation to bring these human relationshps into the open; the accuser also makes use of the strange situation in the United States that even the innocent winner of a court procedure has to pay the cost of his legal help. Practically, this means that in a difficult judicial question, he has to pay at least thirty thousand dollars before he can reach the Supreme Court -- if it is a Supreme Court case -- and appeal to the highest form of justice in our country.
Because of this new angle, which has developed during the past few years, of the brainwashing situation, the psychiatric profession has been made more vulnerable to unreasonable attack. In one case, a third party felt hurt by a psychological treatment that made the patient more independent in an unpleasant commercial situation in which he had formerly been rather submissive. In another case, the doctor was sued because he was able to free his patient from a submissive love affair and an ambiguous promise of marriage. In a third case, the patient during treatment changed from a commerical agency that had treated him badly. In all those cases, the disappointed party could bring suit on the basis of so-called brainwashing, and malicious influence. In several cases of this form of blackmail, an expensive settlement was made out of court because the court procedure would have become far more costly.
The practicing psychiatrist who is attacked in this way experiences not only financial pressure imposed on him by the dissatsified party and a malicious lawyer, but in several states the court does not even recognize his professional oath of secrecy. The Hippocratic oath says:
Whatever, in connection with my professional practice, or not in connection with it, I may see or hear in the lives of men which ought not to be spoken abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret.
Some courts hold that the only physical investigation and treatment are valid as medical treatment not to be divulged; personal conversation -- the quintessence of psychiatric treatment -- is not looked upon as a medical action. Hiding behind professional secrecy is regarded as contempt of court. An additional difficulty is that this accusation of malpractice by a third party -- not by the patient himself -- is not covered by the usual malpractice insurance.
The importance of such perfidious attack on psychological relationships -- however rare the number of cases may be at this moment -- is that it opens the road for many other forms of mental blackmail. It means that subtle personal relationships can be attacked and prosecuted in court, merely because a third party feels excluded or neglected or financially damamged. I cannot sue my broker because he gave me wrong financial advice, but I can sue a psychological counselor for malpractice because he "brainwashed" my client.
What new possibilities for mental blackmail and sly accusation are open! Gradually we can make punishable wrong intention and anticipation, nonconformist advice and guidance, and, in the end, simple honest human influence and originality -- things that are already considered criminal in totalitarian countries.
The word "blackmail" was originally used in the border warfare between England and Scotland. Blackmail was the agreement made by freebooters not to plunder or molest the farmer -- in exchange for money or cattle. The word comes from the Middle English "maille" meaning speech or rent or tax.
The French equivalent "chantage" brings us even nearer to the concept of mental coercion. It means forcing the other fellow "to sing," to confess things against his will by means of threatening physical punishment or threatening to reveal a secret. It is, in the last analysis, mental coercion.
We may call mental blackmail the growing tendency to overstep human reserve and dignity. It is the tendency to misuse the intimate knowledge of what is going on in the crevices of the soul, to injure and embarrass one's fellow man. MENTAL BLACKMAIL STARTS WHEREVER THE PRESUMPTION OF GUILT TAKES THE PLACE OF PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE. The hunting up of dirt and sensation in order to embarrass a victim we see very often carried on by the yellow press. It is not only playing up indecency, but at the same time it undermines human judgment and opinion. And by its sensationalism is precludes and prejudices justice in the courts.
What a weak baby accomplishes with its tears and pouting can be done by the whining, querulous accuser with his fantasies about malicious influence and brainwashing. The suicidal patient may exert the same kind of pressure.
I am convinced that in the future the Supreme Court has to make rules which will control these new forms of indictment; yet the core of the problem is the growing suspicion within man in our era of transition. We blackmail men's minds with too many security measures, with secret files; we blackmail with gossip, with subtle pressures within political pressure groups, with lobbies within lobbies, and even by withholding our friendship.
The Judge and the Jury
What about the people who are called upon to sift truth from falsehood, to arrive at just and impartial verdicts? The judge and the jury are themselves influenced and affected by the external facts and inner needs that lie behind the behavior of the other principals in the case. Yet they are supposed to rise above their background, their personal needs and desires and to render a verdict strictly on the evidence, unswayed by any prejudice or subjective desires. And let us bear in mind that it is not only those officially connected with a case who make a decision about it, it is everyone who knows about it. You and I, the public, are judge and jury too.
Judge and jury face the difficult task of finding and asking on the basis of the facts alone, and yet even in them, under the influence of strong group emotions, an emotional rearrangement of remembered facts may take place.
Judge and jurors are affected by the collective emotional atmosphere surrounding controversial issues, and it is difficult for them to maintain their much-needed objectivity. The average juror already submits to the popular emotional demand before the trial is started, as several trials about racial persecution proved.
Lately two authorities on law attacked the system of trial by jury, one because of its delaying action on the process of justice (Peck) and the other because he considered it an outmoded means of administering justice (Newman). Trial by jury is a relic of the thirteenth century intended to replace the magic trial by ordeal -- the gods and coincidence decided the guilt -- and to replace the trial by battle -- physical skill and power decided which of two parties was guilty. The trial by a jury of peers, by all those who knew the accused and the circumstances of the alleged crime, served its puspose in rather simple organized communities for a long time. But in our compliated society, where people know less about each other and where a thousandfold communications intrude the mind, things have changed. "The average juror is swayed by the emotion and prejudice of his heredity and background training." (Newman) Our juries are not always able to follow the intricacies of pros and cons, of interpretation of facts. In addition, many a trial lawyer knows how to fascinate a jury, how to catch their minds and influence their judgment. Beyond this, the selection of jurors delays more and more the process of justice.
As a simple example of how individual, personal, and social conditioning can affect a juror's current reactions, let us look at the inner confusion usually caused by the word "traitor." Here we have an emotionally loaded trigger-word. If somebody is accused of being a traitor or a subversive, on the basis of undeniable facts, any attempt at a scientific, psychological explanation of this person's behavior is already considered a treacherous intellectualism. The consensus is that the traitor should be punished; he belongs to the scum of society, better let him die. Even the lawyer who defends him before the court may be accused of collaboration in treason.
All of us know many other trigger words which immediately provoke confusion in our objective perception and judgment because they touch unsolved, unconscious feelings. Words like "Communist" and "homosexual," for instance, can become confusing trigger words which bring a reservoir of dark feelings into action. Demagogues like to use such words in order to stir up mass feelings, which they cannot control but which they believe are very suitable for the strategy of the moment. This can become, however, like playing with dynamite. Any one of us may be swayed by allusive cliches such as "Where there's smoke, there's fire" or "Once a thief, always a thief." I once saw this most interestingly in a hot debate where someone had once been scolded for being a "dirty monogamist." As soon as the accusation was made, public opinion turned against him.
Even a judge can be swayed by his own emotional difficulties, especially by slanted testimony of witnesses who may be attempting to mislead. In Great Britain the courts are more aware of the effect of a prejudicial attitude on the part of jurors. There the trial process is extensively protected, mostly through prevention of pretrial discussion and deliberation, regardless of the unpopularity of the accused.
An open official interrogation affects those who watch it -- and the fact that they are affected may influence its outcome. Various crime hearings in this country, for instance, were brought before the people by means of television. Citizens sitting comfortably at home far from the scene could see how defense lawyers maneuvered facts or instructed their clients (among whom were well-known crime bosses) so that they would appear in a favorable light. Even though their actions may have been transparent tricks with the appearance of a fixed wrestling match, the result was that some of the not-so-jovial-looking victims of the criminals were made ridiculous, while the criminals, calm, assured, self-possessed, seemed more admirable. The victims often couldn't stand being in the limelight; it made them feel ill at east and embarrassed. The criminals, on the other hand, either denied every accusation in tones of righteous indignation or made confessions which degenerated into hysterical quests for pity. The magic effect of all the anonymous onlookers -- because the witness or defendant imagined their approval or disapproval -- influenced the outcome of the hearings. All of us who watched them brought our own subjective expectations to bear on these hearings.
Television makes a mass trial of such a hearing, and unwittingly not justice but the variable feelings of the public become part of the courtroom atmosphere. Every piece of evidence in such a hearing is colored by rumor and emotion, and the shocked onlookers are left with feelings of suspicion and deep misgivings that the hearing has not really gotten down to the condemning facts.
The Quest for Detachment
Man's feeling for justice has very subtle implications. As soon as "Justitia" flirts with powerful friends or becomes completely submissive, people feel insecure and their anxiety increases. But man's feeling for justice needs more than mere security for its satisfaction and gratification. The sense of justice is an inner attitude aiming at the realization of ideal rules of law that can inspire the community and raise it to a higher moral level. It requires not merely that minimum of decent behavior that is enforced by law, but more than that a maximum of personal initiative and mutual fair play. It asks for personal and social justice, for mutual limitation of demands in the service of the mutuality of relations between men, and between men and their government. Any ideal feeling of justice requires sacrifice and implies self-limitation. Emotionalism is its enemy. This ideal of justice is not only valid for individuals but should also rule communities and countries. Only in such an atmosphere of free mutual sacrifice of power on behalf of growing justice can democracy grow.
Can people learn to see objectively and in a manner detached from their personal feelings? Yes, they can. Preconceived ways of seeing and witnessing can be changed. Many people realize the damage men do to themselves and others when they submit to collective passion and prejudice. These people then learn through astute investigation and observation how to be less prejudiced, how to see events with constant readaptation of mind and eye and with a search for reality.
Prisoners in concentration camps or P.O.W. camps are so constantly bombarded with rumors and suggestions, their observations are so distorted by their necessary self-defenses, that they are hardly able to give an objective report regarding the actions of their fellows. The mass attitude of the day directs their opinions. The fellow who has become a scapegoat, whose function it is to alleviate for his fellow prisoners their common anger, will never be able to neutralize all later reports about him, simply becasue the number of so-called objective witnesses is against him. It is very difficult to separate the rumors from the facts and to neutralize ingrown mental toenails. There is in man an instinctual need to take sides with the majority, to conform to the opinion of the strong. This need is rooted in a biological urge for safety. That is why a strong feeling of participation grew among soldiers in a P.O.W. camp. The result was complete unconscious falsification of what happened. The individual observation got lost in the strong impact of mass opinion.
In the future age of psychology, when insight into man's behavior is more generally understood and applied, we will be more aware of the importance of dependable witnesses. Every report and every piece of testimony pro or con will be examined and weighed in the light of its psychological and historical background. The citizen of the future will laugh as he looks back at the time once lost during trials because obvious facts on one side were not brought out to challegne equally obvious facts on the opposing side. These future citizens will understand that we only revealed our mutual hostilities and feelings of fear and insecurity by our behavior, feelings which moved us compulsively and subtly to make subjective rearrangements of our memories and impressions. He will point out that objective thinking was in its infancy in those days.
At this time this is all of the text that is available. The original work contains a third part, as well as additional chapters in part two.