Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control (Oxford Landmark Science)
Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control (Oxford Landmark Science)

Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control (Oxford Landmark Science)

Kathleen Taylor
  • Discusses the history, sociology, and psychology of brainwashing, and links it with a fascinating and accessible account of the brain and neuroscience.
  • Alongside the science and psychology, Taylor examines the history, politics, and ethics of brainwashing. Touching on religion, education, and advertising, this book shows how it goes on all around us.
  • Highly topical and relevant, describing the use of brainwashing techniques by terrorist groups and cults, as well as famous fictional examples such as Orwell's 1984
  • Short-listed for the MIND Book of the Year Award 2005.
  • Includes a new Preface from the author, reflecting on the continuing use of brainwashing techniques today by fundamentalist terrorist groups such as "Islamic State", and growing insights from the development of neuroscience techniques
  • Part of the Oxford Landmark Science range: 'must-read' modern science and big ideas, which have shaped the way we think.

Throughout history, humans have attempted to influence and control the thoughts of others. Since the word 'brainwashing' was coined in the aftermath of the Korean War, it has become part of the popular culture and been exploited to create sensational headlines. It has also been the subject of learned discussion from many disciplines: including history, sociology, psychology, and psychotherapy. But until now, a crucial part of the debate has been missing: that of any serious reference to the science of the human brain. Descriptions of how opinions can be changed, whether by persuasion, deceit, or force, have been almost entirely psychological.

In Brainwashing, Kathleen Taylor brought the worlds of neuroscience and social psychology together for the first time. In elegant and accessible prose, and with abundant use of anecdotes and case-studies, she examines the ethical problems involved in carrying out the required experiments on humans, the limitations of animal models, and the frightening implications of such research. She also explores the history of thought-control and shows how it persists all around us, from marketing and television, to politics and education.

This edition includes a new preface from the author reflecting on the uses of brainwashing today, including by the Islamic State.

Oxford Landmark Science books are 'must-read' classics of modern science writing which have crystallized big ideas, and shaped the way we think.

Review from previous edition 
A magisterially detailed survey... Taylor is never less than direct and engaging. The subject may be difficult but the writing never is. With no hint at all of academic pretension, this is a model of how to make hard science accessible without rendering it impossibly watered down or patronising. This is an outstanding book. Academic researchers and human rights professionals will find it a goldmine of relevant research and information. And anyone else interested in psychology will find it a thrill. - Focus Magazine 12/2004

The book is to be commended. Taylor writes engagingly. - THES

I can't remember when I last encountered such a thoroughly argued book which was also so accessible. A miracle of cogency. - Morning Star

An ambitious and well-written study - The Guardian


Part 1: Torture and seduction
1: The birth of a word
2: God or the group?
3: The power of persuasion
4: Hoping to heal
5: 'I suggest, you persuade, he brainwashes'
6: Brainwashing and influence
Part 2: The traitor in your skull
7: Our ever-changing brains
8: Webs and new worlds
9: Swept away
10: The power of stop-and-think
11: That freedom thing
Part 3: Freedom and control
12: Victims and predators
13: Mind factories
14: Science and nightmare
15: Taking a stand
Further reading


Kathleen Taylor, Department of Physiology, University of Oxford
Dr Kathleen Taylor studied physiology and philosophy at the University of Oxford. After a research MSc at Stirling University, working on brain chemistry, she returned to Oxford to do a DPhil in visual neuroscience and postdoctoral work on cognitive neuroscience. In 2002 she won two writing competitions run by the Times Higher Education Supplement, one for science writing and one for an essay in the humanities/social sciences. She has written on a range of topics from consciousness to cruelty, including several books published by OUP: Brainwashing (2004), Cruelty (2009), The Brain Supremacy (2012), and The Fragile Brain (2016).


ISBN : 9780198798330

Kathleen Taylor
528 ページ
129 x 196 mm





Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control (Oxford Landmark Science)

Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control (Oxford Landmark Science)

Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control (Oxford Landmark Science)