Communist Prison Camp Essay

541 WordsOct 28, 20133 Pages
To understand the development of increased self-awareness, it is helpful to consider the opposite process: the destruction of self-awareness. Understanding the growth process is often enhanced by understanding the deterioration process. In the case below, a process of psychological self-destruction is described as it occurred among prisoners of war during the Korean War. Consider how these processes that destroy self-awareness can be reversed to create greater self-awareness. The setting is a prisoner of war camp managed by the Communist Chinese. In such prisons the total regimen, consisting of physical privation, prolonged interrogation, total isolation from former relationships and sources of information, detailed regimentation of all daily activities, and deliberate humiliation and degradation, was geared to producing a confession of alleged crimes, the assumption of a penitent role, and the adoption of a Communist frame of reference. The prisoner was not informed of what his crimes were, nor was he permitted to evade the issue by making up a false confession. Instead, what the prisoner learned he must do was reevaluate his past from the point of view of the Communists and recognize that most of his former attitudes and behaviors were actually criminal from this point of view. A priest who had dispensed food to needy peasants in his mission church had to “recognize” that he was actually a tool of imperialism and was using his missionary activities as a cover for exploitation of the peasants. Even worse, he had used food as blackmail to accomplish his aims. The key technique used by the Communists to produce social alienation to a degree sufficient to allow such redefinition and reevaluation to occur was to put the prisoner into a cell with four or more other prisoners who were somewhat more advanced in their “thought reform” than he. Such a

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