Social Justice Research

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 421–456 | Cite as

Pseudoscience and Minority Religions: An Evaluation of the Brainwashing Theories of Jean-Marie Abgrall

  • Dick Anthony


An analysis of Jean-Marie Abgrall's cultic brainwashing theory shows that the theory is essentially identical to the pseudoscientific theory that was developed first by the American CIA as a propaganda device to combat communism, and second as an ideological device for use by the American anti-cult movement to rationalize efforts at persecution and control of minority religious groups. The CIA theory has been evaluated scientifically in research in several contexts (i.e., communist coercive indoctrination of Western prisoners, the CIA's attempted development of brainwashing techniques, and with American new religions or “cults”). In each context, it has been shown to be ineffective in coercively changing worldviews. Because of this pattern of disconfirmation, testimony based on brainwashing theory has been opposed as unscientific by relevant professional academic organizations and repeatedly excluded from American legal trials. Consequently, neither legal decisions nor public policy with respect to minority religions should be based on Abgrall's appropriation of this pseudoscientific theory.

brainwashing Abgrall cult and sect evidence admissibility hypnosis conditioning pseudoscience 


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© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dick Anthony
    • 1
  1. 1.USA

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