The subject of making false confession. Admitting to things one hasnt actually done, became a thing of interest to me when i was studying up on cults.
There was a glaring instance of this occuring in Russia in the late 1930s when party leaders confessed to being "evil slaves" and were afterwards executed. It amazed me that men could be led to confess to doing something they were innocent of, and I assumed that they must have been beaten and tortured into it. And often, they were. Or their families were threatened.
But when I read Liftons "Thought Reform" (Which is a study of Chinese Communisms thought shaping methods) I got a slightly deeper picture. " Thought Reform" deals quite extensively with matters of confession, especially false confession and group pressure being applied to modify and shape thinking.The interesting thing was that it was clear that the confessor came to believe his confession was true, even though it was false. One example in the book that I recall is of a Catholic priest who is accused of being a spy and passing information onto the Americans.
The priest denies this vehemently of course, but at one point the interogator quizzes him about his holidays and visits to Europe, "who did you see while there"?....well, so and so......"Well might HE not be a spy?"......well, he might, I suppose it is possible......"Did you ever talk about China with this man?" ....well yes......"So you might have given him infornation that could be usefull to the Americans, inadvertently?"...NO!!...."Well did you ever talk about the local Red Army base with him"?......Ummm. I might have......
Slowly , after dozens of such interrogations, the priest comes to see how it is possible after all that he MIGHT be a spy!! These lines of reasoning are coupled with reward/ punishment techniques such as sleeplessness and physical discomfort. They also constantly play the "Good Cop/ Bad Cop" game with the priest to flip flop his thinking and feelings around while hes mulling things over. It is most interesting to note that as soon as the priest conceeds on any point and accepts the interrogators viewpoint, he is immediately rewarded with being allowed top sit up again, of to lie down and rest a while. He is left alone to absorb and integrate his new understanding into his own psyche. It is most important that each individual rationalizes and interprets the collective belief into his own psyche, and learns his own place in the greater scheme of things.
I found it most interesting.
Edited by - refiners fire on 9 August 2002 18:11:10