• Question: Is it ever possible to control someone's mind ?

    Asked by 426memp42 to Paul, Nadine, Alex on 16 Nov 2018.
    • Photo: Nadine Mirza

      Nadine Mirza answered on 16 Nov 2018: last edited 16 Nov 2018 10:40 am

      So mind control like in sci-fi and fantasy fiction hasn’t been achieved (yet!). But mankind has managed to achieve the next best thing which is influencing or controlling each other’s behaviour! The influence we can have on each other can be immense and it’s also why in history (and even today) we see humans commit absolutely atrocious things under the leadership of certain beliefs of a charismatic chief. Humans who before were just regular joes and friends with each other!
      One way of controlling people is using fear as a motivator- you scare people enough with the possibility of something and they’ll do anything to make sure it doesn’t happen. Even if you’re outright lying about what that scary thing is.
      The idea behind behaviourism is also the closest we’ve gotten to mind control I think.
      So first there’s the idea of classical conditioning: that we can train our brains to associate one thing with another, even if they’re totally unrelated. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen The Office but there’s an epic scene where Jim “controls” Dwight by getting him to always put a hand out for a mint every time he hears a sound from the computer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOnBudVtCCQ&t=3s
      The other idea is operant conditioning, which is getting people to do stuff for you based on the idea of receiving a reward or a punishment. These things can motivate people to do stuff to the point where eventually, even if you don’t give the reward or the punishment people’s minds have already associated the action with one or another and will follow.