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Brainwashing: The Ultimate Weapon

Mayer, Major William E.

1956, October 4


Major William E. Mayer, noted Army psychiatrist attached to Brook Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, gave the following address to the officers and supervisors of the San Francisco Naval Shipyard in the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory on the 4th of October 1956. In his introduction, Major Mayer pointed out that during the past 40 years the Communists have gained absolute control over one person in three of the world’s population, roughly 900 million people. This control has been gained, in part, by the well known devices of war, purges, Siberian work camps, mass executions, etc. However, more significant is the fact that for every person brought under the Russian banner by violence, many hundreds have been controlled without violence. And yet, this control has been absolute.

During this period, only two minor outbreaks against this control occurred, and to date, no sustained resistance has ever been organized. On these facts, it appears that Russia has a new weapon of control. What is this weapon? And how does it work? A Chinese newspaperman was the first to call this new control technique by the term “brainwashing.”
Many definitions have been applied to this term, but Major Mayer chooses to describe brainwashing as simply a well organized educational program. Major Mayer studied the record of over 4,000 returning prisoners of war from Korea in an attempt to better understand this new technique. He now continues his analysis of this new weapon.

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