Charisma refers to “a spiritual power or personal quality that gives an individual influence or authority over large numbers of people.” Who among the readership hasn’t met the guy who everyone can’t help but listen to, or the woman who projects an aura of serenity that calms everyone in her vicinity? Natural leadership ability like this is explained by psychologists as an aggregation of distinct character traits that functions collectively to create a persuasive gestalt, a magnetic personality. While most will agree that some degree of leadership skill can be acquired with proper training, there are others who have an almost supernatural ability to exert their will upon others…
Mind control is a concept that describes a direct or indirect ability to influence another person’s thinking, regardless of that individual’s willingness to co-operate. Though seemingly paranormal in some cases, secular methods of behavior modification do exist and have been broadly employed, from theaters of war to clinics of healing.
Such strategies are employed by government PSYOP divisions, in which attempts are made to influence the thinking of a collective group of individuals to ensure the success of military objectives. Informational dissemination coupled with psychological aggression is a tactic designed to facilitate attrition of morale in the enemy, with the intention of mitigating, or even obviating, skirmishes with opponents. Other techniques, such as hypnosis, brainwashing, and subliminal messaging have also been popularized through fiction as additional military tools, though formal documentation of such methods remains unreported.
On the flipside, techniques that enforce and reinforce positive behaviors are used to treat patients in a medical setting. Cessation therapy, insomnia treatment, and anxiety disorder management are a few areas in which a combination of clinical hypnotherapy and Pavlovian conditioning, among other methods, is used to handle or eliminate unwanted behaviors.
Though psychological approaches are the most widely known and accepted, albeit mundane, methods of mind control, studies in neuroscience, cell biology and molecular biochemistry suggest that a direct method of behavioral control is hidden deep within our genetics. Pheromones form the basis of a control mechanism where an organism releases a biochemical component into the surrounding environment to modify behaviors of other members of its own species. This has been definitively observed in simple life forms such as insects and rodents, where compounds released into the air initiate mating responses and territorial aggression. The evidence in human beings report that human female brains are particularly responsive to biochemical cues that synchronize reproductive cycles among a group of women. However, more research into this area of human physiology, such as the exact nature of the compounds that are released and whether or not humans possess the proper anatomical structure to process such signals is required before any definitive conclusions regarding human pheromonal control can be made.
Currently, the most popular/notorious instances of individuals with an almost supernatural ability to influence people around the world remain our political and spiritual leaders. Such examples prove without a doubt that people who can exert such godlike persuasion exist within our demesnes; whether or not their ability stems from a Jedi-like power to control the thoughts of the masses, however, is questionable. In a majority of instances, the ability to influence another’s thoughts is critically dependent on the recipient’s permissiveness. Yet, enough data has been acquired from fields of behavioral psychology, neurological biochemistry, and molecular biology to tantalizingly suggest that directed, external compulsion among human beings may not be as fictitious as originally believed.
So for now, until the existence of a superhuman capacity to compel others is resolved, the versions of mind control that presently exist will remain firmly in the political, military, medical, and some would even argue, dating, arenas.
Prepare your mind.