While researching my upcoming (free) e-book, The Downfall of Psychology, I stumbled on a startling statement by some 60 renowned national and international psychology associations. In August, for obscure reasons to raise awareness, these associations joined hands to issue Humanity Needs Psychology: What Do Psychology and Psychologists Offer Humanity?Under the banner #humanityneedspsychology, they state humanity needs psychology and psychologists now more than ever to contribute to mental well-being and to help bridge divides. This is an outright braggadocious claim considering what psychologists are presently doing in the Chinese province Xinjiang.
In true military fashion, China executes a social reengineering program to destroy the Uyghur identity. The crackdown on the Uyghurs—a Turkic Muslim ethnic minority—and other indigenous minorities forces them to conform to the Chinese ideology. To promote Chinese cultural unity, the province has changed into a police state where minorities are under constant surveillance by face and voice recognition, DNA profiling, surveillance cameras, and various spy software technologies on mobile phones. An Orwellian state to apply psychological pressure unchecked and gain control of the Uyghur minds.
Since 2014, China has detained millions without trial at internment camps resembling concentration camps. The Chinese government runs these camps as innocent Vocational Education and Training Centers, where minorities learn the Chinese culture to become model citizens. According to article 33 of the Xinjiang regional regulations, the centers should organize and carry out anti-extremist ideological education, psychological and behavior correction. But this is a smokescreen. Multiple eye-witness reports of rapes, torture, suicides, and killings have leaked out.
While most internees are men, the Chinese government is systemically taking draconian abortion, sterilization, and birth control measures to slash birth rates among ethnic minorities. Women with too many children run the risk of ending up in detention camps. Their children are shipped to orphanages and boarding schools to have their ideology altered. In total, the Chinese measures fit ethnic brainwashing. Experts are calling the propagandistic indoctrination a form of demographic genocide.
Under the guise of mild methods, China fights Islamic religious extremism. A conscious endeavor to win over the enemy’s hearts and minds without fighting and failing this, to destroy the Uyghur’s ideas and create a new one altogether. A strategy dating back to Sun-Tzu: conquer the enemy by destroying his ideas. The objective is to have Uyghurs renounce Islam, shed Islamic customs and names, stop Halal practices, and cease using their native Turkic language. How?
In practice, China uses psychological warfare techniques. Applying psycho-pressures like constant monitoring of movements inside and outside homes, ripping families apart, holding detainees in handcuffs and leg shackles, random physical abuse, and sleep deprivation. Inside the camps, internees are donned in four-piece-suits, often having their beards shaven. After that, they are forced to confess their mistaken ways of thinking and openly repent by denouncing their religious ideology. Stringent behavior management with fixed repetitive routines ensures the internees learn Mandarin Chinese. Furthermore, detainees have to sing Communist party hymns and face inculturation of Chinese law and political policies.
Officially, the indoctrination is the Communist party’s answer to rising domestic terrorism by militant groups—a Chinese version of the American War on Terror. Suggesting ties to global Islamic terrorism further legitimizes China’s fight against the three evil forces of separatism, terrorism, and extremism. The battle against extremism sanctions the psychological campaign of thought transformation.
Even so, nationally, the deceptive anti-terrorist propaganda is not generally used. Inside China, religious ideals get framed as an ideological mental illness. Therefore, it stands to reason that those infected must be treated in a secure quarantined hospital to get cured. Using psychological terminology, the culprit is a contagious psychopathological virus that infects innocent inferior minds with violent ideas, making them a serious threat to the public. Not surprisingly, the standing order in the camps is to avoid escape at any cost. Critically, internees are not students; they are prisoners, treated as sickly mental patients in need of salvation.
Nationally, China applies psychology 101. Using pathological rhetoric, it reframes reprehensible mind control into a sacred cause to help the sick-minded. Moreover, this frame gives Chinese authorities card blanche to apprehend anyone deemed mentally ill to cleanse them of the twisted psycho-pathogen. Additionally, it puts pressure on anyone with deviant ideologies to seek treatment for their delusional disease. Treatment that, in part, is given by psychologists. Staff recruitment of the internment camps focuses on professionals with a psychological background.
So, psychology is to blame for destroying the minds of millions. But the psychological abuse in China is only half the story. On the flip side, Uyghurs that have fled or moved out of China are increasingly suffering psychological problems, like depression, insomnia, and anxieties. Activists have even begun to plead for free therapy. And this is the ultimate irony. Chinese psychologists are indirectly traumatizing Uyghur friends and family abroad that counselors have to salve. Bizarre!
The plight of the Uyghurs is just one in a long subduing tradition. Chinese culture has always had psychological undertones. According to Stevan Harell, ethnic minorities and indigenous people had to conform to the civilized Han-Chinese culture through the ages. More recently, Mao Tse Tung evangelized the need to cure the patient’s sickness so that he can become a good comrade. Mao proclaimed that without sparing someone’s sensibilities, it is necessary to analyze and criticize what was bad in the past with a scientific attitude to avoid future ones.
Following Mao’s directives, China has been psycho-engineering minorities from the 1950s. For over a half-century, the Chinese government has been trying to transform unique indigenous cultures, languages, and religions and yield to the Communist Party ideals to accept Beijing’s rule unconditionally. Like in Tibet, vocalized by the exiled Dalai Lama. Another is Inner Mongolia, where ethnic Mongolians have to leave their rural yurts for urban building blocks. Lately, Hong Kong has joined the ranks of the repressed and en mass taken to the streets to protest against the step-by-step demolition of their autonomy and democracy. meeting resistance with repression and brutality.
Despite years of practical experience, the actual playbook used in Xinjiang comes from subjugating the Falun Gong. The repression lessons learned are brought to bear in the anti-Falun Gong campaign that took off in 1999. A meticulous mind control program to transform spiritual practitioners. Surfing on pathological terminology, Falun Gong is also framed as an addiction in need of psycho-medical treatment. Just shows how long psychology has been looking away.
In fairness, the world looks on too. Under the umbrella of the United Nations, rival camps duel in deadlock. One side—predominantly led by North American and European countries backed by Australia and Japan—wants to end the mass detentions. The opposing side—consisting of Russia aided by African, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries—applauds China’s remarkable human rights achievements. Go figure. In a tit-for-tat feud, when one side urges China to close the camps, the other feels compelled to air support.
Notwithstanding the UN impasse, psychology caused the Xinjiang travesty, unwilling and unable to intervene. So, will the discipline confess and repent? Or will the field continue to play innocent and go cloaked in silence? In that case realize the shoe is on the other foot: Humanity does not need psychology as is, but psychology is in dire need of humanity. Not hard to agree with when fully comprehending the Humanity needs Psychologystatement.
The statement proclaims psychology generates knowledge about the nature and development of individuals. Preposterous in light of what psychologists are doing with this knowledge in Xinjiang. Even more astounding is insisting psychology alleviates suffering. Mind-blowing is the boast that psychologists have a role in supporting health and well-being globally within a human rights framework. Nothing could be further from the truth. Psychologists aiding in the Uyghur crackdown systematically squander human rights. And to top it all, vowing to pursue the goal of improving lives while being instrumental in demographic genocide is an outrage.
All in all, the sanctimonious statement demonstrates a delusional mental state of a deplorable science. Has this narrative art lost its senses? More to the point, for the so-called science of self-reflection, psychology is doing a pretty lousy job on itself. One of the underwriting associations is the Chinese Psychological Society. Instead of condemning the Chinese cognitive cataclysm and rejectable misuse of psychological principles, psychology associations spanning the globe collude.
Psychology seems impervious to destroying minds, which is an ominous sign of failing human nature. And this is not the first time in history. Psychology’s blackest page was to capriciously deal in death and destruction in the name of eugenics, the fallacious belief in Nordic whites’ genetic superiority. Not to mention the role psychology played in scientifically justifying slavery, leading to systemic racism in many modern-day societies.
In the name of sound science, numerous monstrosities pave psychology’s path. But no longer. Time for psychology to taste the bitterness of their own medicine. Come clean, turn the page and start marching to a different tune. Denounce intolerable and inhumane application of psychological principles. Hold Chinese malpractitioners accountable. Stop colluding with culprits. Furthermore, implement a worldwide enforceable ethical convention of conduct. And by all means, refrain from drafting fairy tale declarations. Perhaps then can psychology seriously start helping humanity.