1. Sir Awesome
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    Sir Awesome Member

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    Psychological Torture

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Sir Awesome, Jun 25, 2013.

    Sorry if this is a dark subject, but:

    A major faction in a story that I am working on relies on psychological torture to recruit new soldiers. It has a post-apocalyptic (political) setting, and they torture the opposing survivors to join their army.

    They use psychological torture—why would they injure their soon-to-be soldiers?—to make them feel as a unit with the other soldiers.

    Now I found a few methods of torture, like putting people in small boxes with nothing in sight but pure light, shaving everyone’s head and dressing them the same (to remove their individuality)… but that’s about it. The internet doesn't normally give you too much information on how to torture people.

    That’s why I am asking all of you, any “neat” methods of psychological torture?
     
  2. Shandeh
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    Shandeh Active Member

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    If you're dealing with a character with a healthy imagination, the best psychological torture is an open-ended threat.

    "If you don't [this] you don't want to know what I'll do to you..."

    The imagination is far more terrifying than any specific threat can be, and it's human nature to imagine the worst.

    Chinese water torture is horrible, by the way, and doesn't injure. Physical torture that doesn't leave a scratch. It's maddening.
     
  3. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Have you exhausted google already?

    Brainwashing and phychological torture seem to go hand in hand, so you could look up everything you can about brainwashing to get some ideas.
     
  4. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Have you ever seen A clockwork Orange, or read it? That contains elements of psychological torture. Look into Chinese torture as well (e.g. they put a water tap directly above your forehead and allow it to drip so slowly that you'll go mad). It is kind of physical, but it will not harm the soldiers. :)
     
  5. huntsman40
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    huntsman40 Active Member

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    You are talking about psychological conditioning or behavioural modification, using positive or negative stimulus to change a mental viewpoint. To this end you are looking at things that will break the mind, and so things like lack of sleep can be a strong weapon. Putting them in stress positions, white noise and similar distractions will work. Then you add in the use of clever twisting of their current beliefs, putting negative connotations on them, while alternatively bombarding them with the positive reasons for the new thought process you want them to embrace. Think of films you’ve seen of people strapped to chairs with videos playing images and messages etc.

    You should be able to find a lot of subject material from a Google search on this subject though if you want to see some methods that have been used in breaking down the mind.
     
  6. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    To psychologically torture someone you need to know who they are, what makes them tick. Look at Guantánamo and what the soldiers did to the inmates (Not inviting political debate here). The inmates, mostly Islamist/Taliban/Whatever, grew their hair religiously - their heads were shaved. They had eating habits which were taken away. They were made stand naked in front of others, sex acts were committed on them/in front of them. I'm sure there are a million more things done to torture these people without being physical but you get the point.

    In order to torture someone you need to know first, what frightens them.
     
  7. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I would suggest looking up torture that's been used on enemy soldiers during times of war. That should give you a good starting point.
     
  8. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    You want to turn a soldier's loyalty. Torture will not generally achieve this. What you need to do is break their belief in the cause they were fighting for originally. Shatter their sense of reality and rebuild them. So you would likely use drugs and sleep depivation or similar to weaken them and make it harder for them to logically defend their position. Harder for them to reject the new 'truth' you want to give them.

    Then once they're susceptible you would give them your new 'truth', whatever it is. That their old side started the war. That they are killing innocent women and children. At the same time you would try to get them to identify / form some sort of emotional attachment to your side. If you've seen the first season of Homeland, you'll see this technique in action.

    After that its a case of simply conditioning. Constantly reaffirming the new 'truth' so that they don't question it. This part is what armies have done since time immemorial. Putting soldiers together in groups so they can reinforce among themselves whatever you would have them believe, constantly giving them news about the terrible things the enemy has done (propoganda), finding derogatory names for the enemy so they are seen as less than human (hun, nip etc).

    However I would stress that in terms of converting soldiers to your cause, this hardly ever works. It may in some cases work for a while, but sooner or later once they are free from the continuing mental coersive pressure and exposed to new stimuli and conflicting evidence / ideas they will revert. You have to consider that the soldier has lived inhis home country for twenty or more years. He has a bond. An identity with it that cannot be overcome easily in a few short weeks.

    My thought would be that you need to use drugs. Something perhaps that destroys established memories, breaking the psychological bonds with their past. Or, and this has occasionally happened, introduce a major trauma that converts. So perhaps giving them 'proof' that their old country was responsible for the deaths of their loved ones. Best example I can think of this is the philosopher Nietzsche who in a single semester went from being in the seminary intending to become a priest to a rabid antichistian. The reason - he was suddenly faced with the understanding that his father who had died early in his life and who had been a minister himself, had been failed by God. If God had loved him he wouldn't have let him die. That broke him. After that the road to his vitriolic hatred of Christianity was assured.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  9. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    See Homeland
     
  10. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    The brainwashing idea is good, Look at what hitler did to most of Germany by way of propaganda, that may be of some use
     
  11. Sir Awesome
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    Sir Awesome Member

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    Thank you very much, everybody. You were all a great help.
     
  12. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I second this (bolding mine).

    Peer pressure also pushes people to think and act alike.
     
  13. stanislav
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    stanislav Member

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    If you want to convert the enemy into yourself, you will have to change him/her thoroughly, which seems to be a long, rather scientific process. If you need somebody to put into the front trench, breaking his spirit down should suffice. Human beings, reportedly, suffer from only two natural phobias - height and noise. Why not combine the two of them, at least it may look as something new.
     
  14. huntsman40
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    huntsman40 Active Member

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    Actually it's a fear of falling and a fear of noise. Close, but not quite the same thing.
     

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