Dick Sutphen's The Battle For Your Mind has gained considerable repute across the Internet, having been posted on well over a hundred sites worldwide. It purports itself to be an exposé of brainwashing, though some regard it as pseudoscience. Whether you agree with it or not, this essay will change the way you perceive major social institutions. Read it, make up your own mind, and if you're interested, see http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Secrets/TR/sutphen-critique.html afterwards for a psychologist's refutation of Sutphen's claims.

This document is a transcription of an audio tape by Sutphen, who has copyrighted it (1984) for protection against duplication for sale, but freely allows its contents to be reproduced in a non-profit setting. Capitalization, punctuation, grammar, headings, and paragraph breaks remain as I found them. I've formatted and hardlinked the text for the specific purposes of this site. The Contents listed are exactly those given by the author; however, I've linked some to the same nodes in an attempt to make the document more coherent when read on E2.

Persuasion & Brainwashing Techniques Being Used On The Public Today
by Dick Sutphen


I'm Dick Sutphen and this tape is a studio-recorded, expanded version of a talk I delivered at the World Congress of Professional Hypnotists Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. Although the tape carries a copyright to protect it from unlawful duplication for sale by other companies, in this case, I invite individuals to make copies and give them to friends or anyone in a position to communicate this information.

Although I've been interviewed about the subject on many local and regional radio and TV talk shows, large-scale mass communication appears to be blocked, since it could result in suspicion or investigation of the very media presenting it or the sponsors that support the media. Some government agencies do not want this information generally known. Nor do the Born-Again Christian movement, cults, and many human-potential trainings.

Everything I will relate only exposes the surface of the problem. I don't know how the misuse of these techniques can be stopped. I don't think it is possible to legislate against that which often cannot be detected; and if those who legislate are using these techniques, there is little hope of affecting laws to govern usage. I do know that the first step to initiate change is to generate interest. In this case, that will probably only result from an underground effort.

In talking about this subject, I am talking about my own business. I know it, and I know how effective it can be. I produce hypnosis and subliminal tapes and, in some of my seminars, I use conversion tactics to assist participants to become independent and self-sufficient. But, anytime I use these techniques, I point out that I am using them, and those attending have a choice to participate or not. They also know what the desired result of participation will be.

So, to begin, I want to state the most basic of all facts about brainwashing: IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF MAN, NO ONE HAS EVER BEEN BRAINWASHED AND REALIZED, OR BELIEVED, THAT HE HAD BEEN BRAINWASHED. Those who have been brainwashed will usually passionately defend their manipulators, claiming they have simply been "shown the light" . . . or have been transformed in miraculous ways.


What follows below is the post that Anark mentioned which refutes Dick Sutphen's extraordinary claims. I realize some of you dislike, or even hate, Christianity. But, seriously, please ask yourself if this guy is really telling the truth. I've grown up in the church my entire life, and for the last eight months I've been very involved with planting a new church, and what this guy talks about is just absurd. Imagine someone trying to convince you that your mother is actually a serial killer, and you've been brainwashed into thinking she was a normal, loving mother for all these years. While it may have happened in a cheesy 90's B movie, you'd probably have the same reaction to him as I do to Dick Sutphen.

Critique of Duck Sutphen's Essay "The Battle for Your Mind"
by Martin Poulter

Date: Tue, 13 Aug 96 15:36:57 BST
From: Martin Poulter
Subject: Sutphen's views on mind control
Organization: University of Bristol, England

[posted to a.r.s and mailed to some relevant folks.]

I am posting this to make public my feelings about Dick Sutphen's essay "The Battle for Your Mind". It seems that a few Scn critics are taking this essay as an explanation of the working of cult mind control. The essay can be read at: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Secrets/TR/sutphen.html As someone educated in physiological psychology, I would actually classify this essay as transparently bogus pseudoscience, and a red herring when it comes to the understanding of cults.

Note that Sutphen is a major purveyor of subliminal message tapes. If what he says in his essay is correct, then his tapes are very effective. If they are very effective, then we should all go and hand him some banknotes in return for "Double your brain power" or his other tapes. Sutphen is no doubt aware of this and his objectivity should be interpreted in light of that.

BTW, note that Sutphen claims that his messages are completely subliminal. Thus if you buy a tape and play it and all you hear is a dull lecture or burger-bar muzak, you can't complain.

The two general methods to which Sutphen refers are subliminal messages and special frequencies. Subliminal messages have not yet been proven effective. The tests that have been done so far have, as far as I know, failed to find a difference between the effects of tapes with and without subliminal messages. Note that I am thinking of independent tests rather than uncontrolled tests done by the people who sell the tapes. I can't remember an exact reference, but I know that Skeptical Inquirer has reported some tests.

A hypothesis that pervades the essay is that rhythms which have a special effect when their frequency has a biological signifiance. For instance, talking at the speed of a typical heart rate, or presenting music that has the same frequency as certain EEG waves, is claimed to induce a suggestible state. Has any reliable evidence been provide for this, by Sutphen or anybody else?

I think we read too much into EEG waves. Remember that EEG, with its few electrodes, placed on the scalp a good few millimetres away from brain tissue and each recording from millions of neurons, is a very crude technique, not a good indicator of what is really going on in the brain.

Sutphen has his own explanation of why evidence for the success of his techniques is not widespread. He makes vague references to "government agencies" who want to block this valuable information from the masses. We all know better than to accept this excuse, don't we?

Of course, it may be that Sutphen's methods do work, but until there is proper independent evidence that they do, there is no reason to regard his claims as explaining cult mind control.

Rather than take the blind alley offered by the subliminal message brigade, someone who wants to understand how coercive psychology works can follow the explanations which have a proper scientific foundation. These are the explanations based on social pressure and milieu control. They can read Milgram on obedience, Lifton on brainwashing, Festinger on cognitive dissonance, or the other documents on Dave T's web pages.

Sutphen's essay contains a whole succession of typical pseudo-scientific ploys (Maybe it is time for the Squirrelle to repost the "Typical Pseudoscience Ploys" series). His claim that "Conversion is a 'nice' word for Brainwashing" implies that all religion is cult-ish and is careless and offensive. Anti-cult people should distance themselves from such irresponsible claims. As a buddhist, I'm a bit disappointed to read that Nirvana is "bullshit" (another bald assertion without any attempt at argument).

There are some useful points, such as the mention of sleep deprivation, but there are other people who say the same thing in a fuller and less sensational way.

I have filed Sutphen's essay in my Crackpotology file, not my anti-Scientology file. This is what I recommend others should do. Naturally we critics, unlike the scientologists, are free to disagree amongst ourselves and to take different approaches.

This post is not a comment on Perry Scott's essay on the TR's, which is very useful apart from its references to the Sutphen essay.

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