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Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of Brainwashing in China Paperback – July 24, 2014
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Lifton has written a book with the rare virtue of being at once a rich source of information vital to international relations, and an interesting exploration of several aspects of ideology and identity.--Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
While exploring the dynamics of Chinese Communist 'thought reform,' Lifton has performed the extraordinary feat of successfully linking . . . distinctly Chinese experiences with universal knowledge about human behavior.--Journal of Asian Studies
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Interestingly, I actually found chapter 8 on "Apparent Resisters" to be the part of the book that was most illuminating in my quest to understand the religion I grew up with. I always asked myself, even when I was one, how could JW's be so resistant... how did they resist in concentration camps and gulags, refusing to compromise even a little? I feared that I could never have THAT kind of resolve. Lifton pointed out that those who best resisted the thought reform of the Chinese prison system were those who were most immune to the appeal of totalism, *because they already had a totalistic worldview of their own.* Therefore, the totalism that the communists tried to involve these resisters in was actually perceived as a threat to their already satisfied totalistic impulse, rather than a tempting means to fulfill it.
I'm very grateful to Robert Lifton for this wonderful analysis, this isn't just a book about "brainwashing" in communist China, it's a book about human nature. If you're curious about the more extreme and darker impulses of human nature, read it! And if your curious about high control religious groups, or especially if you are in the process of leaving one yourself, I highly suggest reading it along with his study on Aum Shinrikyo "Destroying the World to Save it".