Stretching back to medieval times and beyond, wicked minds have dreamt up a range of psychological torture methods that have caused even the bravest men and women to beg for mercy. Some of the worst techniques have gone out of style for their heinousness, but others, it is suspected, continue to be used, especially by secret government agencies. The five most effective techniques for inflicting terror on a weakened mind are mentioned below, along with a brief description of the ways in which they were or are effectively employed.
Depriving someone of sleep for long periods of time is one of the worst offenders. This can be done in a number of ways. Particularly twisted minds may wish to play loud music so that individuals can’t fall into a state of full repose. When sleeplessness reaches a certain duration, the mind begins to break down. Hallucinations may commonly occur, and many men and women will eventually become seriously mentally ill, especially if the deprivation takes place in multiple instances over many months.
Chinese Water Torture
This one is familiar even to school children. In fact, the technique describes single drops of water that fall repeatedly onto the head of constrained individuals. Because they cannot move from their location, they must wait again and again for the water to fall upon them. Though the water itself is not injurious, the repetition of the drops becomes a relentless force, which causes the mind to wander and fall in on itself.
Public shaming is a special kind of manipulation. Individuals might, for example, be photographed naked without their knowledge. These photographs are then passed around to other members of the community, who can gaze upon the private areas of the victims. In many cases, these people become outcasts in the community and must either leave the area or live the rest of their days in great fits of unhappiness. In primitive tribal regions, this public shaming may extend to immediate family members, which is in fact a double dose of torture.
Known for centuries as a way to truly bring on madness, solitary confinement is still used today at most prisons. True terror arises, however, when men and women are made to spend days or weeks by themselves in a room without anything else to do. In these cases, prisoners may begin talking to themselves to ward off the inevitable loneliness. In extreme situations, they may even begin to hear voices in their heads. Lack of human contact, in fact, has been shown time and time again to bring on depression and anxiety in previously well-adjusted individuals.
When torturers know their victims, they might be able to devise specific horrific experiments that are designed to play on certain phobias. People who are afraid of spiders, for instance, might be placed in a position where their arachnophobia drives them insane. Individuals with this specific fear might be locked in a room with a box of tarantulas. Rather than deal with hideous creatures that they cannot avoid, many people will simply shut down their brains and fall into a daze. Phobias may involve virtually anything, from fear of heights to an inability to stand the sight of blood.
Ultimately, these five methods of psychological terror have surely been used over the eons to either obtain useful information or to punish people who have gone against a cherished moral code. Though others could be added to this deviant list, these are the worst offenders. Men and women who have never been personally acquainted with these techniques should be thankful at their lot in life.
Amber Rushton is a clinical psychologist and guest author at Best Psychology Degrees, where you can read her latest article on top-rated online bachelors of psychology degrees.