The Nation: Is Brainwashing an Excuse?

"I am obviously alive and well. As far as being brainwashed, the idea is ridiculous to the point of being beyond belief. "

—Patty Hearst on tape, April 1974

This week the prosecution will ask the jury to take Patty at her recorded word, but the defense will argue that her denial of brainwashing was itself a product of a powerful and pervasive mindbending. Expert witnesses for both sides will wrestle with a concept of coerced behavior that evokes memories of zombie-like American P.O.W.s and the Communist show trials in which psychologically...

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