[Solved] Communist Prison Camp

Question 99
Essay

Communist Prison Camp To understand the development of increased self-awareness, it is helpful to consider the opposite process: the destruction of self-awareness. Understanding the growth process is often enhanced by understanding the deterioration process. In the case below, a process of psychological self-destruction is described as it occurred among prisoners of war during the Korean War. Consider how these processes that destroy self-awareness can be reversed to create greater self-awareness. The setting is a prisoner of war camp managed by the Communist Chinese. In such prisons the total regimen, consisting of physical privation, prolonged interrogation, total isolation from former relationships and sources of information, detailed regimentation of all daily activities, and deliberate humiliation and degradation, was geared to producing a confession of alleged crimes, the assumption of a penitent role, and the adoption of a Communist frame of reference. The prisoner was not informed what his crimes were, nor was he permitted to evade the issue by making up a false confession. Instead, what the prisoner learned he must do was reevaluate his past from the point of view of the Communists and recognize that most of his former attitudes and behavior were actually criminal from this point of view. A priest who had dispensed food to needy peasants in his mission church had to "recognize" that he was actually a tool of imperialism and was using his missionary activities as a cover for exploitation of the peasants. Even worse, he had used food as blackmail to accomplish his aims. The key technique used by the Communists to produce social alienation to a degree sufficient to allow such redefinition and reevaluation to occur was to put the prisoner into a cell with four or more other prisoners who were somewhat more advanced in their "thought reform" than he. Such a cell usually had one leader who was responsible to the prison authorities, and the progress of the whole cell was made contingent on the progress of the least "reformed" member. This condition meant in practice that four or more cell members devoted all their energies to getting their least "reformed" member to recognize "the truth" about himself and to confess. To accomplish this, they typically swore at, harangued, beat, denounced, humiliated, reviled, and brutalized their victim 24 hours a day, sometimes for weeks or months on end. If the authorities felt that the prisoner was basically uncooperative, they manacled his hands behind his back and chained his ankles, which made him completely dependent on his cellmates for the fulfillment of his basic needs. It was this reduction to an animal-like existence in front of other humans that constituted the ultimate humiliation and led to the destruction of the prisoner's image of himself. Even in his own eyes he became something not worthy of the regard of his fellow man. If, to avoid complete physical and personal destruction, the prisoner began to confess in the manner desired of him, he was usually forced to prove his sincerity by making irrevocable behavioral commitments, such as denouncing and implicating his friends and relatives in his own newly recognized crimes. Once he had done this, he became further alienated from his former self, even in his own eyes, and could seek security only in a new identity and new social relationships. Aiding this process of confessing was the fact that the crimes gave the prisoner something concrete to which to attach the free-floating guilt which the accusing environment and his own humiliation usually stimulated. A good example was the plight of the sick and wounded prisoners of war who, because of their physical confinement, were unable to escape from continual conflict with their interrogator or instructor, and who often ended up forming a close relationship with him. Chinese Communist instructors often encouraged prisoners to take long walks or have informal talks with them and offered as incentives cigarettes, tea, and other rewards. If the prisoner was willing to cooperate and become a "progressive," he could join with other "progressives" in an active group life. Within the political prison, the group cell not only provided the forces toward alienation but also offered the road to a "new self." Not only were there available among the fellow prisoners individuals with whom the prisoner could identify because of their shared plight, but once he showed any tendency to seek a new identity by trying to reevaluate his past, he received a whole range of rewards, of which the most important was the interpersonal information that he was again a person worthy of respect and regard. Source: Schein, E. H. (1960). Interpersonal communication, group solidarity, and social influence. Sociometry, 23, 148-61. Note to Instructors: The remaining essay questions in this testbank all relate to the above case. You may choose to use all of the following questions, or some subset of them. To ensure that you have all relevant information regardless of which questions you use, we have provided a general explanation of the case for each question. The redundancy in the explanations is built in intentionally. -In the situation of these prisoners of war,what demonstrates that individuals tend to avoid new self-knowledge?

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