Brainwashing (also known as mind control, menticide, coercive persuasion, thought control, thought reform, and re-education) is the concept that the human mind can be altered or controlled by certain psychological techniques. Brainwashing is said to reduce its subjects' ability to think critically or independently,[1] to allow the introduction of new, unwanted thoughts and ideas into their minds,[2] as well as to change their attitudes, values and beliefs.[3][4]

A satirical depiction of brainwashing

The term "brainwashing" was first used in English by Edward Hunter in 1950 to describe how the Chinese government appeared to make people cooperate with them. Research into the concept also looked at Nazi Germany, at some criminal cases in the United States, and at the actions of human traffickers. In the 1970s, there was considerable scientific and legal debate, as well as media attention, about the possibility of brainwashing being a factor in the conversion of young people to some new religious movements, which were often referred to as cults at the time.[5][6] The concept of brainwashing is sometimes involved in lawsuits, especially regarding child custody. It can also be a theme in science fiction and in political and corporate culture, but is not generally accepted as a scientific term.[7][8]