Help or Harm?

The Undue Psychological Influence of Covid-19

This week a guest author, Sue Parker Hall, has written an article on ‘Thought reform’, a term that Lifton (1989) coined to describe Chinese indoctrination techniques used during the Communist takeover. It is a concept and a process which many cult researchers and survivors are familiar with. In Lifton’s words, the Chinese were ‘more organised, comprehensive and deliberate’ in the breadth, depth and ingenuity of their influencing techniques which sought to bring about ‘a significant personal upheaval’ in everyone it touched. Parker Hall takes us through each of the 8 steps of indoctrination and draws parallels with the propaganda deployed during the covid pandemic. The number of similarities are unnerving, especially now we are seeing the rollout of vaccine mandates across Europe.  

She invites us, the reader, to reflect on how the psychological influence of government and media may have affected us, and, for any psychological helping professional, how the psychological influence of government and media may have affected our profession and our clients. 

She concludes a very dark paper, however, with a glimmer of hope provided by the growing number of people seeking information about Covid-19 beyond the narrow agenda of the highly censored mainstream media and social media. More are showing the courage to blow the whistle on the malpractice and misinformation they are seeing in their workplaces. Like-minded people are finding each other in person and online, to share information and offer emotional support, not complying with measures that have no scientific basis, and taking practical, legal, and political action to hold those in power accountable and to influence policy making. It is up to each and every one of us to bear witness to the truth.

You can read the article in full here.


Lifton RJ, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of Brainwashing in China, 1989, North Carolina, North Carolina University Press

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