Visions of brainwashed minds permeated Cold War culture, politics and science. We map this history and ask how it influenced and was shaped by the ‘psy’ professions.



Battles of the mind: The long Cold War

We review ideas of brainwashing as they appeared in the postwar period, and trace their connection to clinicians’ analyses and therapeutic treatment of military captives in the Korean War and later conflicts.


Shadows of colonialism

We probe the imperial powers’ uses of psychological concepts and expertise in counter-insurgency, propaganda and re-education programmes after 1945.


Advertising, film and hidden persuasion

Our project explores the affinities between the post-war literature on commercial ‘hidden persuasion’ and popular depictions of brainwashed minds in television and film.


‘Psy’ expertise: Debates, reflections, reckonings

Our research considers how and why revelations and allegations of brainwashing returned to haunt all of the psy professions, inspiring new explorations and critiques of psychiatry, psychology and psychotherapy.


Here and now

We investigate how historical concepts of brainwashing continue to influence current debates about the ethics and limits of psy expertise in the indoctrination, coercion, and manipulation of human subjects.

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