Brain washing, torture and child development

In “The Shock Doctrine”, Naomi Klein makes the comparison between shocking an entire population and the psychological theory that was popular in the 1950s that a traumatized individual could be shocked out of the trauma. The theory was that what the psychologist could do was basically tear down the sufferer’s personality and then rebuild it, minus whatever was troubling them. This theory was actually linked with CIA practices of attempted brain washing and interrogation methods. To whatever extent it was even intended to help an individual, as opposed to playing god or using them as a guinea pig, it was a total failure and actually left people so traumatized that they could no longer function at all. A byproduct of the rebellions of the ’60s was the discarding of these methods.
Now similar methods are making a comeback including a small rebirth of the practice of lobotomy. But one of the main arenas where these methods of attempted total control are gaining use is in child rearing, or to be more exact in the “education” system. On the one hand, the drugging of children has reached epidemic proportions in the US. Of course, in part this is simply induced by the pharmaceutical companies who are ever on the lookout for expanding markets. But it also fits with the total control ideas of modern education.
Now, a new and equally horrific method is being introduced: The use of “calm down” rooms, which are nothing but padded cells. Rather than calming down a child, they do the opposite. In one case, a child had to be taken to the hospital due to a panic attack he suffered in one of these “rooms” (actually a padded closet).  This also seems to be related to privatization of education as these padded cells apparently are being used in that wing of the “education” system.
You cannot gain total control over a child and any attempt to do so simply forces the child to act out in other, even more extreme ways. But these methods are useful in assuring that children don’t grow up into adults who will be able to rebel in an organized, systematic, and conscious manner.

1 reply »

  1. Thanks for posting this, John. These “calm down” rooms are a cross between solitary confinement and a straitjacket. And appear to be as damaging to the victim’s well-being.

    It is no surprise that this form of punishment takes place at a KIPP school. KIPP is perhaps the best known chain of charter schools in the U.S. KIPP is hailed by the union-busters and privatizes for its success on high stakes tests — although even those are largely due to KIPP’s documented success at forcing out students who won’t blindly accept their methods (among others, Caroline Grannan, a San Francisco parent, journalist and education activist, has documented these unacceptable force out rates).

    However, KIPP is on the cutting edge of education in tormenting students. About five years ago, the principal at KIPP’s Fresno (California) penitentiary (oops–I mean ‘school’) forced a student to stand stationary in the burning Central Valley sun for several hours. At roughly the same time, I was approached by Oakland parents whose son – a 12 year old young black man — was regularly made to stand in a corner of the classroom with his back to the class wearing a dunce cap. Etc.

    And KIPP is hailed as a model! I guess — if the goal is stomping on initiative, creativity, and thinking critically for the purpose of imposing unquestioning obedience.

    And, of course, profiteering. I see that today’s Guardian has a piece on how the directors of many British academies are handing out lucrative contracts and getting a piece of the action. This goes on routinely in U.S. charter schools as well.

    Victimizing teachers. Busting unions. Treating students like automatons. Tormenting those who won’t march in line. Turning education into a trillion-dollar profit pool. Ain’t corporate education
    reform grand?

    Jack Gerson

Leave a Reply