Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers ideas for maintaining your mental health.

Suggestibility and Brainwashing

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Jan 10, 2013 4:38 PM

Some people just pick up on anything you say, adopt it and run with it. Others resist anything you say. Or, it may not be you they follow or resist. For example, husbands often ignore a suggestion of their wife, but they'll readily embrace the same suggestion from their doctor, lawyer, or accountant, even if the wife is an expert on the topic, and others listen to her and pay her for the same advice. Better yet, a website, newsfeed, radio broadcast, TV news or other program, or book informs someone, whether correctly or not, and they assimilate the attitude to the point of brainwashed subservience. Especially, political views develop through such selective attention. Once indoctrinated or commited to an idea, the believer resists contradictory ideas. This process is particularly popular in religion or lack of it, science or anti-science, and social attitudes.  It becomes the means by which people justify their perceptions, then.

Everything from anti-vaccines to anti-evolution, creationism, atheism or fundamentalist religion, ultra-conservatism and knee-jerk liberalism, racism, addictions, gang loyalty, and weird belief in natural cures which don't work thrives on the suggestibility of people. The anti-dote is thought, that is, weighing whatever people or media say, researching it, listening to a variety of sources, using logic and experience, even accessing honest intuition and feelings. Rather than drinking in whatever comes along, people can THINK  it over.

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