Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.Epictetus
In the book, “The White Nights: Pages from a Russian doctor’s notebook” (1956), Dr Boris Sokoloff describes an account of an incredible visit to the laboratory of Dr Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936), the famous Russian physiologist who is primarily known for his work in classical conditioning which has informed much thinking around behaviourism in psychology. A fascinating and sinister section from the book reads (from page 205/6, 2018 edition published by Bowen Press, Texas:
“What is wrong with these poor creatures?” I (Sokoloff) asked. “What have you given them to make them so nervous?”
Zelenyi laughed. “This is our prize project. Ivan Petrovitch (Pavlov) attributes great importance to it. As you know, he has proved that the central nervous system directs and controls all functions of the body, in man and animals alike. But now he wants us to establish, through a series of experiments, that such diseases as cancer are also influenced by the central nervous system. Or that neurotic persons, whose nervous system is overstrained, are much more predisposed to cancer than persons with a well-balanced, normal nervous system.”
An ambitious project,” I (Sokoloff) remarked.
“Quite…But we hope to prove that the etiology of cancer is in the alterations of the central nervous system…Well, this is the first step in that direction. I rendered these dogs neurotic.”
“How?” I was fascinated.
“By using the technique of conditioned reflexes. First, by forming them with a bell or a light, and then inhibiting them. This technique can induce a state of extreme neurosis in normal dogs. You can see yourself that they are neurotic.”
And they were, indeed.
“Now,”, Zelenyi continued, “we shall see if a malignant tumor develops in these dogs. We might know in a year or two.”
It was to take more than twenty years, however, to complete the investigation. Not until after the death of Pavlov and Zelenyi were the results published by Dr Maria Petrova and other Pavlov students, partially confirming their master’s theory.”
It is now well known that induced stress, fear and anxiety are linked to a myriad of physical and psychological disorders; that is irrefutable. Public health initiatives often implore us to lead healthy and stress-free lives for the good of our physical and psychological health.
It might come as a surprise then, that the UK Government and devolved administrations, on the advice of psychologists from SPI-B of SAGE and the Behavioural Insights Team (Cabinet Office) are using methods derived from Pavlov in the response to COVID19 which are making us all psychologically and physically unwell: deliberately so.
As mentioned in my previous articles on UK Column, “Psychological attack on the UK” and “Ethical psychotherapy versus the unethical applied psychology of SPI-B and the UK government”, their motivation and tactics are explicit; to deliberately to make us more fearful and to shame us (and get people to shame each other) through propaganda and societal/interpersonal pressure or demands to get us to submit/conform to the COVID19 regulations and dictates.
These tactics do not come out of nowhere. SPI-B and the UK government have not just invented them for the purposes of COVID-19. The links to Pavlovian theory are clear.
When one looks at the use of psychology as used in totalitarian regimes, especially totalitarian communist regimes of the old Eastern bloc communist countries and the Soviet Union (the formative political landscape that shaped Pavlov’s ideas), we see clearly that the tactics of SPI-B and the UK government are no coincidence.
Lavrentiy Beria was a Georgian Bolshevik and Soviet politician, Marshal of the Soviet Union and state security administrator, chief of the Soviet security, and chief of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) under Joseph Stalin during World War II, and promoted to deputy premier under Stalin from 1941. He later officially joined the Politburo in 1946.
A text supposedly attributed to him, “Brain-washing: a synthesis of the communist text book of politics”, an address to students at Lenin University, explicates a great deal of the origins and methods of SPI-B/Behavioural Insights team/UK government’s psychological tactics, and what is occurring in the UK at present.
There is controversy about the validity of Beria’s authorship of this address and how the text may have been fabricated by anti-communist Americans to disseminate anti-communist propaganda. Nevertheless, much of the material within the introduction and actual text corroborates other writings; e.g., “New lies for old” by Anatoliy Golitsyn, an ex-KGB officer; Christopher Story’s “European Union Collective: Enemy of its member states”, a study in Russian and German strategy to complete Lenin’s world revolution; the talks of ex-KGB operative Yuri Bezmenov; Russian dissidents/authors against totalitarian communism Vladimir Bukovsky and Alexander Solzhenitsyn; the writings of dissidents against communism in Czechoslovakia Václav Havel (i.e., The power of the powerless) and Václav Benda (i.e., “The long night of the watchman”); as well as the personal testimonies of people who described what it was like living under the psycho-political conditions of totalitarian communism, for example “Stasiland: Stories from behind the Berlin wall” by Anne Funder, and “Live not by lies: a manual for Christian dissidents” by Rod Dreher.
Therefore, psychopolitics or the psy-op and the applied behavioural psychology as experienced by and applied to the UK population today, has not come out of thin air.
(As a side note, it has not gone unnoticed that one of the highly influential chief protagonists of SPI-B, the applied psychology team of SAGE, is Professor Susan Michie, a member of the British Communist Party.)
In the introduction to “Brain-washing”, Eric D Butler highlights the foundations of psychopolitical subversion, which was influenced by Pavlov, how this was an experiment in trying to standardise human thought and behaviour, and how this was to be used to infiltrate and influence the West, ideologically and politically. This has been in development for decades before COVID19. As Butler reminds us:
In an address to the BBC on the 11th November 1953 a Dr Sargent indicated that the attack upon the mind is the most serious problem threatening Western Civilization today. Dr Sargent’s talk dealt with subject of indoctrination, and he outlined the developments of Pavlov’s theories in the modern political world. Pavlov is, of course, one of the founders of psychopolitics.
Butler highlights a direct quote from Dr Sargent:
Now we in British medicine are trying to learn all we can about these terrible and most effective methods of changing men’s thoughts and beliefs on a large scale, because I believe ultimately the fate of the world will depend on the conversion of the mases to one idea of life or another.
A striking quote by Butler in his introduction is from American Senator Jack Tenny, a militant Christian patriot who directed the official investigation of the Communist conspiracy in California. A quote from his report on “Mind-washing in America” Tenny writes:
Under ordinary circumstances the efforts of a small, almost infinitesimal fraction of society to brainwash the overwhelming majority of its citizens or build insane asylums for them would be incredible and fantastically funny. But these are not ordinary circumstances or ordinary times. We are in the age of Great Delusions-when black appears white, and white appears black-when the sane are made to appear insane and the insane act as the world psychiatrists…
The quote above embodies the spirit of the deluge of psychopolitical propaganda and tactics by the UK government: a small number of people (i.e., psychologists of SPI-B/Behavioural Insights Team) are motivated to make as many people as irrationally fearful of COVID-19 as possible.
As outlined in my article “Ethical psychotherapy versus the unethical applied psychology of SPI-B and the UK Government”, the applied psychological tactics are designed to get people to adhere to illogicality re the actual risk and threat to them from COVID-19; to make black appear as white and white as black.
In other words, an attempt to make as many people as possible fearful of an insignificant statistical risk of COVID-19. If one rejects such a transformation towards fear, one is regarded as insane (e.g., a Covid denier).
The logic of the Government psychologists adopts the illogical delusion of the risk of COVID-19 and demands ordinary people to adopt this delusion without question.
This was quite clear in the propaganda damage limitation from Sir Keir Starmer’s ill-fated meeting with the pub landlord, Rod Humphreys in Bath.
Starmer (and the Labour party press team) literally changed the words of the landlord and dismissed any notion of the logical nature of Humphreys’ argument (e.g., that Humphreys was deluded and that his argument that statistically, the risk of COVID-19 and an analysis of the ONS data did not necessitate societal lockdown, was nonsense).
This kind of propaganda, in essence, is the same as used in the Soviet Union; the psychopathologisation of dissidents and the nefarious use of science, psychiatry and psychology for unethical ends.
Note the widespread use of terms such as “conspiracy theorist” and “covidiot” about protesters and the recent anti-lockdown protest in London, used by the mainstream media and social media users.
As I have written about elsewhere, the mainstream media, the political left and mental health activists/organisations, predominately on the left, have blindingly adopted the cultural hegemony of mental health; the psychopathologising of everyday life and a reverence for therapeutic culture.
Many have previously warned about this “virus” coming from totalitarian communist regimes to infect the West previously (e.g., Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Vladimir Bukovsky). Indeed, in the introduction of Brain-washing, A.K. Chesterton writes about the psychopolitics of mental healing that will infect the West:
The western half of the projected World Police State seems to be preparing the way for silencing its political opponents. Its method will be somewhat more subtle than that employed by the murderers and enslavers of the Kremlin. I quote from the letter of one of my most reliable Canadian correspondents: The Health Department is still at it, trying to make everybody mental-health conscious, so that they will think nothing of being sent to a psychiatrist, thence to an asylum.
As Butler reiterates, the communist psychopolitical tactics in manufacturing mental healthism in the West also attempts to destroy the value of words, in how one perceives and understands words versus the actual reality (e.g., think of the mainstream COVID-19 narrative and the inflation of risk from COVID-19). Indeed, Pavlov placed a high importance on words as a medium of reality.
In 1896, the French philosopher, Gustave Le Bon, in his book “The Crowd, highlighted how most revolutions are created by changing the meaning of words. Communist psychopolitics, derived from Pavlovian theory have created a science of changing the meaning of words with the result of a confusion of ideas.
The desired outcome of such a process is to get a large number of people via propaganda and the medium of public health initiatives of the state to adopt and repeat carefully crafted phrases, notions, and ideas without realising their true implications.
As quoted by Butler in in the introduction to “Brain-washing”, Charles Morgan, quoting a psychiatrist friend in his book “Liberties of the mind” writes:
…we are all being conditioned to accept a limitation of freedom . . . I fear that, unconsciously, even if we are ready to accept this new infection which could not have harmed us before 1937. There is no such immunity in the great mass of our people and no consciousness of danger… One can think of many ways in which the population as a whole is being conditioned or prepared for this mental change, this loss of individuality and identity.
In light of Morgan’s and Chesterton’s writings, one can think of the restrictions regarding COVID19, the slogans used by the UK government: “Stay at home, Protect the NHS, Save lives”, “Stay alert, Control the virus, Save lives”, “Hands, Face, Space”, and the horrific UK government fear mongering adverts (from their twitter account):
It is irrefutable that these fear-mongering slogans and adverts, along with the explicit fear-mongering tactics of SPI-B of SAGE are deliberate. From the March 2020 SPI-B document:
A substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened.
The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging.
The psychologists of SPI-B and the UK Government also use the promotion of social approval for desired behaviours (reward), to consider enacting legislation to compel required behaviours (punishment), and to consider the use of social disapproval (punishment) for failure to comply.
They have used the mainstream media and social media, along with false “fact-checking” and censorship, to instil and reinforce their message of fear, punishment, reward, confusion to induce neurosis/mental ill-health in the UK population; straight out the Pavlovian play book of behavioural psychology.
Sceptical readers might think that suggestion that the deliberate Pavlovian manipulation and coercion by our own Government is stretching things too far into the realms of conspiracy. However, the work of Jacques Ellul and his 1965 book, “Propaganda: The formation of men’s attitudes,” describes the workings of such propaganda; how it manipulates people and his book wonderfully captures and mirrors the COVID-19 narrative and its agenda.
Ellul, was well aware of the sceptics who doubted that the masses could be manipulated through propaganda and that even psychologists disagreed upon its effectiveness. He wrote:
Some people object to this (the efficacy of propaganda) …after a careful look at Stalinist propaganda…one comes to this conclusion: Stalinist propaganda was in great measure founded on Pavlov’s theory of the conditioned reflex…let us not forget that if this theory, put to use by the propagandist, brings results and proves to be effective…. doctrinal criticism can then no longer demonstrate its inaccuracy.” (Propaganda: The formation of men’s attitudes, 1978 edition, page 5-6).
Looking at the effects of the information/propaganda machine of the UK government and its effects of the population with regards the perceived threat of Covid19 (see HART re mental and physical health), does it not cause one to pause to be cognisant of these real effects during the COVID-19 era; e.g., people body swerving in a supermarket to maintain distance from another; hugging each other trough plastic; washing one’s shopping and leaving for three days before touching again; shop owners washing physical cash in a fish tank; living in constant fear despite having a 99.999% survival rate if one gets COVID-19; jumping at the chance to take an experimental mRNA vaccine developed in a matter of months (when it usually take years); and where the long term side effects of the experimental drug are unknown (e.g., on fertility/pregnancy). These are all real examples of what has occurred.
As Ellul describes, the genius of communist, Pavlovian derived propaganda was to create a threat of war, whilst at the same time conducting peace propaganda.
The constant threat of war, the use of slogans and the heralding of peace or hope for peace breaks the indifference of the populace; it penetrates their conscious/unconscious like bullets.
Embodying these ideas, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer to the UK government, Professor Van Tam, implored people to get the vaccine if they wanted their freedoms back and was quoted as saying:
If you want that dream to come true as quickly as it can come true, then you have to take the vaccine”.
Ellul argues that propaganda works through alienation and breaks down a person’s critical and personal judgement. It limits the propagandee’s field of thought in that it provides him with ready made (unreal) thoughts and stereotypes.
The effects of the war/peace propaganda as used in the UK government’s COVID19 propaganda onslaught, concurs with Ellul’s description (quoting Karen Horney on page 168 of Propaganda: The formation of men’s attitudes, 1978 edition) of how such propaganda turns people neurotic or mentally ill. The neurotic cycle as Horney describes is one of:
Anxiety, hostility, reduction of self-respect…striving for power…reinforcement of hostility and anxiety…a tendency to withdraw in the face of competition, accompanied by tendencies to self-depreciation…failures and disproportion between capabilities and accomplishments…reinforcement of feelings of superiority…reinforcement of grandiose ideas…increase of sensitivity with an inclination to withdraw…increase of hostility and anxiety.
The neurotic and the victim of COVID-19 propaganda have mirroring behavioural symptoms; the victim-enemy-scapegoat cycle which develops into epic proportions; the extra-ordinary need for self-justification, projection of hostile motives to the outside world. The neurotic feels that destructive impulses do not emanate from him, but from a threat on the outside world.
Setting this cycle up in the population is quite clear in the applied psychology tactics of SPI-B of SAGE. To deliberately make people more fearful than they need to be, to make people feel they are in danger from themselves and other people, e.g., “Act like you have the virus”, and the encouragement of social disapproval and even snitching on others if they are breaking the rules (e.g., self-justification, striving for power, hostility, feelings of superiority etc). This can be seen clearly in mask rage, vaccine rage, social distancing rage when violations/non-compliance/refusal of these occurs. It can also be seen in the angry complaints by people about those gathering to protest lockdown (e.g., London 24th April anti-lockdown march).
Ellul points out that the victim of propaganda or the Pavlovian psy-op can no longer judge for himself because his thoughts, values and prejudices are shaped by the propaganda. He has been given ready-made value judgements about himself, others, and the threat of the world.
Frighteningly, what the individual loses through the effects of propaganda and alienation, is not easy to repair.
Once personal judgement and critical faculties have disappeared or atrophied, they will not reappear when the propaganda ends. Indeed, the victim of propaganda will actually crave another narrative to give him a foundation to orient himself to himself, others and the world; hence, that is why they are gearing up the climate “crisis” narrative to become more prominent when/if the COVID-19 narrative diminishes.
The durable effects of propaganda and the mechanisms of alienation via the Pavlovian conditioning of fear, punishment, reward, contradiction (of messages from government) chaos and confusion cycle lends itself either to the projection onto and/or identification with a hero or leader and/or fusion with a mass (psychological outlook).
This describes the cult of Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland perfectly; she can do no wrong despite mounting evidence of incompetence and corruption during and out with the COVID19 situation.
Think also of the blind faith and robotic like obedience to social distancing cues/signs in shops where people line up and don’t speak to or even look at each other. Think of the lack of critical questioning among people and the mainstream media when supermarkets are open and people can browse the shelfs in a packed supermarket, but university libraries are closed and/or one cannot browse shelfs because of the “risk” from COVID19.
As I discussed in the “Cult of the brave New Normal”, the cult like nature of the diktats of COVID-19 rules and the adherence by the masses has all the hallmarks of brainwashing.
Through social isolation via stay-at-home orders and stopping ordinary human interaction (e.g., face masks, social distancing, family/social gatherings stopped, school, university, & work online & at home) and the sanctioning of mainstream news and labelling of alternative news as disinformation (and an active censorship of it), people are deprived of their customary supports.
People living like this live in a situation of inferiority, humiliation with the aim (by the State) of reconstructing them in a new guise; “the New Normal”, “Build Back Better”; just as a cult operates in breaking down people and reconstructing them into a new way of being.
It is no accident that these methods of applied psychology (e.g., mental healthism, queer theory, climate crisis), derived from Pavlovian methods and totalitarian ideologies, are also being used to target children and schools in the UK.
This has been happening for quite some time via the inculcation of mental healthism and the creation of the school as a mental health clinic, with “Wellbeing” or “Resilience” lessons, teaching children how to pathologise their mind, thoughts, emotions all within a high peer pressure to conform group setting/group confessional in the classroom. I discussed this in the Scottish Review.
There is also the confusing and highly age-inappropriate introduction of adult sexuality and queer theory (e.g., interrogating heteronormativity) into schools, which again induces children to be confused about their “gender” and sexuality.
This is an attempt at “freeing the sexual motility” of children, which will have damaging knock-on effects: a questioning and confusion regarding gender, sexuality and sexual behaviour, and an inappropriate exposure to sexual ideas before the relevant developmental milestones have been reached.
Regarding COVID-19, children are currently being inculcated into the cult of fear. Social distancing, face masks, hand sanitiser, playground segregation, temperature checks etc are de rigueur in many schools.
Children are given lessons to think about the risks of COVID-19 on themselves and families and even subjected to BBC children’s programs like Newsround to get their daily dose of COVID19 scaremongering.
Some schools, for example Baldragon Academy in Dundee, Scotland, have made their pupils make face masks to sell to the public.
Moreover, children see that their parents are not allowed to come into the school premises, their parents have to wear masks outside, parents are asked not to chat to other parents at the school pick-up and only one parent at a time can only come to the school to pick up their children.
John Taylor Gatto warned about the use of schools for such nefarious purposes. He argued that the function of public schooling is to “reduce children’s capacity to think” whereby the mind and behaviour of the child is reconstituted to fit the designs of governmental or state interests. To accomplish these goals, schooling does indeed use Pavlovian ideology and applied psychology for social engineering purposes.
Dr lvan Pavlov laid the groundwork for Soviet operations to standardise human thought and behaviour – the essence and origin of the contemporary scourge of ‘political correctness’, and the inspiration for the Leninists’ long-term campaign to develop the ‘common mind’. On page 293 of “White Nights”, Dr. Sokoloff reported:
Russian communism is generally considered to be fighting capitalism— whose defeat is its prime goal. Actually, of course the Soviet regime, being an extreme form of state capitalism, is fighting not capitalism as such but private industry and commerce. But much more important is the fact that neocommunism is a movement directed against individualization and toward the standardizing of all Man’s activities. It is the farthest-reaching attempt ever made in this direction. Steadily and persistently, the Soviet regime is driving toward its ultimate goal: control of human behaviour. It states officially that man can transcend his heredity and transform his environment and so achieve full uniformity of behaviour. In this gigantic social and biological experiment, carried out largely through the [mis-]education of children and youth, the Soviets are using the (Pavlovian) conditioned-reflex mechanism on a large scale. They openly declare that this is essential to their purpose, that through such standardization a complete hold over their subjugated peoples can be attained.
Hopefully the reader can appreciate, the COVID-19 psy-op is a deliberate attempt by the UK Government to inculcate fear, to coerce and to manipulate behaviour on a grand scale.
The links to history, other regimes and to tried and tested tactics are clear. The psychological attack on the UK and the effects of it are now becoming clearer: many people have been psychologically damaged, many suicides have occurred and many children are being psychologically harmed.
We are all Pavlov’s dogs now.
Dr Bruce Scott is a psychoanalyst and author.
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