Brainwashing – A Form of Verbal and Emotional Abuse

Many prisoners of war have succumbed to brainwashing – an effective tactic used in psychological warfare. This term refers to a systematic, forcible indoctrination that puts pressure on prisoners to abandon their beliefs and accept opposing beliefs.

Unfortunately, you don’t have to be in a prisoner of war camp to be brainwashed. Your captor could be a significant member of your own family or a new acquaintance. In whatever circumstance brainwashing occurs, the damage can be devastating … systematically wearing away your sense of self-worth and confidence … causing you to distrust yourself and even to lose touch with reality. “Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them.” (Galatians 4:17)

Those who brainwash others employ the following Verbal Abusive Tactics: 

  • Intimidation: Implying that your failure to comply with all demands or to adopt all the abuser’s attitudes or beliefs will result in severe consequences.
  • Indoctrination: Repeatedly implanting messages contrary to your presently held values or beliefs.
  • Discrediting: Belittling your “outside” family and friends who disagree with the abuser.
  • Degrading: Engaging in name-calling, insults, ridicule, and humiliation.
  • Labeling: Claiming that your thoughts are childish, stupid, or crazy

“They do not speak peaceably, but devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land.” (Psalm 35:20)

Those who brainwash others employ the following Emotional Abusive Tactics: 

  • Isolation: Depriving you of all outside sources of emotional and social support.
  • Induced exhaustion: Keeping you up late, interrupting your sleep, causing sleep deprivation, wearing you down physically or emotionally.
  • Excessive compliance: Militantly enforcing trivial demands.
  • Ignoring: Withdrawing emotional support but later denying the withdrawal.
  • Forgetting: Intentionally failing to keep promises and agreements.
  • Exploiting: Using you or someone close to you for selfish interests or gain.

“The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead. So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.” (Psalm 143:3–4)