By Roland Watson

I am now going to present the third exercise for self-examination. I call it the Are You Brainwashed? quiz. This will also throw some light on how much, and in what ways, you have been formed.

But first, I want to take a deeper look at the idea of "brainwashing." As a historical note, brainwashing, as a term, was first used to describe the methods of thought control to which prisoners of the Chinese communists were subjected, after the communists took control of China in 1949. Many of these methods were brutal, involving years of torture in "reeducation" camps. They led not only to mind control, but mind destruction.

Brainwashing, then, is a wiping clean of all individuality: of all original impulses. It is a substitution of those impulses with the ideas that the sources of the brainwashing want you to have.

What happens in the brain

One way to consider it is like this. The process by which you think, your actual series of thoughts, is called your stream of consciousness. You might think that sometimes you are thinking of many different things at once, but in fact your thoughts are sequential. One follows another, even if the intervals between them are often very brief.

Also, many times your thoughts are unformed. They may in fact be only thought impulses, very faint images of ideas.

But, your consciousness latches onto them, and forces your mind - and by this I mean your unconscious mind - to develop them into fuller ideas. Your mind actually originates many thought impulses, and by a process of screening, or selection, your consciousness decides which to pursue and which to reject. This is in fact the purest manifestation of free will, your consciousness deciding which thoughts, which patterned firings of the neurons in your brain, to activate and bring into focus.

This is also the level at which brainwashing occurs. The ideas that have been suggested to you, or forced upon you, interfere with this screening process. Your mind gets an impulse, and the influence of your brainwashing immediately interjects itself. Another patterned firing of neurons intrudes into your consciousness, and forces you to take some action with respect to the impulse.

If the impulse is the beginning of an idea that in some way supports the brainwashing, the course of action forced upon you is to develop the idea. If it somehow conflicts with the brainwashing, the interjection cuts it off.

A mind that has been brainwashed is like a house with faulty wiring, and which has short circuits and fires, all the time.

Brainwashing occurs person-by-person, but it can affect, actually infect, like an unknown and unrecognized virus, entire societies.

Here's an example from my own experience. In rural Thailand - for that matter, in rural - or urban - anywhere - people are addicted to the TV. So, what do they watch in rural Thailand? They watch soap operas where the actors are, and portray, rich city kids from the capitol of Bangkok; and they watch game shows, with the same actors as guests.

For this "entertainment," many Thais have given up traditional arts and crafts, including painting, weaving and woodworking; and traditional performances, including story-telling, puppet shows, and singing and dancing. They've given all of this up, for soap operas and game shows about rich kids.

However, when the show starts, they have to be there, in front of the TV, as do we. This is brainwashing.

The quiz

The quiz is given in the link directly under the link for this article. After you are finished reading, please go to the link and give it a shot.

In this case, there is no need to write down your answers on paper. I just want you to think about the questions, and yourself.

If it is not clear, the quiz is designed to reveal a number of things, including:

the general severity of the conformity in your society;

the extent to which this has been adopted by your parents - by this I mean the degree to which they are brainwashed;

and, the extent of your long-term exposure to large institutions, since any such exposure will almost certainly have conditioned you in many negative ways.

So, did you pass?

I can add, if you answer "yes" to the question about People magazine, you failed!

In the next article, I will present the final exercise for self-examination - my identity checklist.

© Roland Watson 2013