The Manipulation of Human Behavior

By Albert D. Biderman; Herbert Zimmer | Go to book overview

Disordered brain function is indeed easily produced in any man. No amount of "will power" can prevent its occurrence. It can be produced without using physical means, that is, by fatigue or sleep deprivation. Since it may be associated with mental clouding, confusion, lack of discrimination, impaired judgment, and increased suggestibility, it is probably true that most men can be brought to a state where they will agree to statements that are dubious, incomplete, or quite inaccurate. Under these conditions some men will make up entirely fictitious stories incriminating themselves. Therefore, it is usually not difficult to obtain signed "confessions" that are biased, incomplete, inaccurate, or even totally untrue. This is the means by which Communist state police have produced false confessions with great regularity (57), although not with universal success (12, 101, 106, 117, 119).

Most people who are exposed to coercive procedures will talk and usually reveal some information that they might not have revealed otherwise. However, there is no evidence that a man must always reveal a specific item of information that he possesses. Disturbed brain function of the subject does not allow the interrogator to abstract information at will. An interrogator may occasionally trick a disturbed man into revealing bits of information that he had intended to conceal, but information so revealed is likely to be limited and interspersed with unreliable statements. If he elects to do so, a prisoner may endure to death or disorganization without revealing what he knows. Very few men, however, can hold themselves to such rigorous behavior through all the vicissitudes of captivity.


References
1
Aginger J., and Hemmager E. Unusual neural conditions following hunger period of 1945-46. Arch. Psychiat., 1951, 186, 483-495.
2
Albert S. N., Spencer W. A., Boling J. S., and Thistlethwaite J. R. Hypothermia in the management of the poor-risk patient undergoing major surgery. J. Amer. med. Ass., 1957, 163, 1435- 1438.
3
Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease. Symposium on Pain. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1943.
4
Bartley S. N., and Chute E. Fatigue and impairment in man. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1947.
5
Beck F., and Godin W. Russian purge and the extraction of confessions. Translated by E. Mosbacher and D. Porter. New York: Viking Press 1951.
6
Beecher H. K. The measurement of pain. Pharm. Rev., 1951, 9, 59-209.
7
Beecher H. K., Keats A. S., Mosteller F., and Lasagna L. Effectiveness of oral analgesics (morphine, codeine, acetylsalicylic acid) and problem of placebo "reactors" and "non-reactors." J. Pharm. exp. Therapeutics, 1953, 109, 393-400.

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