Marcia Holmes considers the oft-told story of how Edward Hunter, an American journalist, introduced the term ‘brainwashing’ into English. Was Hunter working for the CIA when he doggedly promoted the threat of ‘brainwashing’ to his Western readers?
Aleksandra Brokman on the USSR’s use of psychological techniques to improve athletes’ performance, when sport was a key arena of Cold War competition.
Sarah Marks reflects on histories of the human sciences across East and West, and what we could still learn about the ‘psy’ professions in the Cold War.
Despite his influence on Cold War pop-cultural, and countercultural, discussions about the brain, Grey Walter was curiously reticent on the subject of ‘brainwashing’. Andreas Killen shows how, nevertheless, Walter’s work played a key role in debates about mind control.
Alexandra Hui describes an early example of our cultural ambivalence about background music. In 1958 a journalist asked: does it make us happy, even when we would prefer not to be?
Aline Rubin reminds us that there have been harrowing points of intersection between psychoanalysis and political oppression, particularly in Brazil. Scholars of psychoanalysis have only begun to reckon with this challenging history.
Erika Dyck discusses the legacies of LSD’s Cold War reputation, and the implications for the recent renaissance in ‘psychedelic science’.
To what extent did the events of the Cold War alter the methods, aims and spaces of interrogation? How might this history intersect with developments in the ‘psy’ sciences? In July 2016, the Hidden Persuaders project hosted a workshop on these questions.
Can comic books negatively condition children’s behavior? In the 1950s that question provoked a furore, when the psychiatrist Frederic Wertham alleged comics had serious, deleterious effects. Dennis Doyle, who teaches history at St Louis College of Pharmacy, explores the story.
Mary Augusta Brazelton explains how one of the first scandals involving ‘Communist brainwashing’ also serves as an entry point for understanding how the Chinese Communist Party used biomedical expertise to consolidate its political power at home.