Would You Brainwash Yourself?


I usually give advice on Wise Wednesdays, but I feel I’ve done a bit too much of that these past few weeks. So, instead, let’s talk about something I don’t know the answer to.

Here’s the question: If you could enter a machine that would make you believe, think, or accept the idea of your choice, would you do so?


It’s a weird question, so here are some examples:

  • You think, “I would like to believe in Jesus. I think my life would be better if I did.” So you set up the program and step into the machine. When you walk out, you now have faith in Jesus Christ being the son of the One True God.
  • You decide, “I want to accept the idea that meat is murder,” so you step into the machine, and now the sight of people eating other animals disgusts you.
  • You want to be sexually attracted to fat women, or fat men, or any other gender. One brainwash later, your sexual preferences have totally changed.

I would like to leave this discussion to the comment section, but let me make my position clear.

People hear “brainwash,” and think hypnosis. Now, after taking a weight-loss hypnosis class, I can tell you that it’s no different from meditation. Yet the class I took talked about using your right brain for goals instead of your left brain, and replacing negative habits with positive ones. We also received a meditation CD to play at night, every night, for two weeks. A guided meditation designed to train your brain into new thought patterns.

So, in a way, I’ve already answered, “yes” to the above question. I decided, “I want to not depend on food for stress management,” so I took steps to guide my brain into actually wanting to skip late-night binges. Not the same as pressing a button on a machine, but I’m motivated by the same will either way.

And yet, there’s always a hesitation when I ask myself this question. Here are issues I can’t shake off:

  • What do you do if, some time after you exit the machine, you discover you didn’t actually want that belief? This question assumes that you can’t just re-enter the machine. It also assumes that your brainwashing also added this belief: “I refuse to re-enter the machine, or make myself believe in anything other than my chosen idea.”
  • How much of your personality will change after you brainwash yourself?
  • Is this akin to never being able to leave your environment? (for example, if you hang out with sexist friends, and you start parroting their sexist beliefs, you might one day decide, “These guys are leading me down a dark path, I should stop hanging out with them.” You can’t make that choice with the machine).
  • Should parents be allowed to use this machine on their kids?
  • What happens to all the conflicting desires you have?


I’ve talked too much this past month. I leave the rest to you.


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