Main article: Mind control in popular culture
In George Orwell's 1949 dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four the main character is subjected to imprisonment, isolation, and torture in order to bring his thoughts and emotions in line with the wishes of the rulers of Orwell's fictional future totalitarian society. Orwell's vision influenced Hunter and is still reflected in the popular understanding of the concept of brainwashing.
In the 1950s many American movies were filmed that featured brainwashing of POWs, including The Rack, The Bamboo Prison, Toward the Unknown, and The Fearmakers. Forbidden Area told the story of Soviet secret agents who had been brainwashed (through classical conditioning) by their own government so they wouldn't reveal their true identities. In 1962 The Manchurian Candidate "put brainwashing front and center" and featured a plot by the Soviet government to take over the United States by use of a brainwashed presidential candidate. The concept of brainwashing became popularly associated with the research of Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov; which mostly involved dogs, not humans, as subjects. In The Manchurian Candidate the head brainwasher is Dr. Yen Lo, of the Pavlov Institute.
Mind control has often been an important theme in science fiction. Terry O'Brien comments: "Mind control is such a powerful image that if hypnotism did not exist, then something similar would have to have been invented: the plot device is too useful for any writer to ignore. The fear of mind control is equally as powerful an image." A subgenre is "corporate mind control", in which a future society is run by one or more business corporations which dominate society using advertising and mass media to control the population's thoughts and feelings
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