Dimsdale discusses his latest book “Dark Persuasion: A History of Brainwashing from Pavlov to Social Media,” which traces the evolution of brainwashing from its beginnings in torture and religious conversion into the age of neuroscience and social media.
When Pavlov introduced scientific approaches, his research was enthusiastically supported by Lenin and Stalin, setting the stage for major breakthroughs in tools for social, political and religious control. Tracing these developments through many of the past century’s major conflagrations, Dimsdale explores the history of different methods of interrogation and how Nobel laureates, university academics, intelligence operatives, criminals and clerics all populate this shattering and dark story—one that hasn’t yet ended.
Joel E. Dimsdale is distinguished professor emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego. He consults widely to government agencies and is the author of numerous other works, including “Anatomy of Malice: The Enigma of the Nazi War Criminals.”