Margaret O(ldroyd) Hyde Kirkus Reviews - Essay

Kirkus Reviews

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The authors [of Mysteries of the Mind] clear up no mysteries in this slack, simplistic treatment of already overexploited topics. After an introductory chapter on neurons and synapses that establishes a tone of scientific respectability come discussions of sleep and dreams, witchcraft, hypnosis and ESP in which about all that we haven't heard many times over are either beside the psychic point (as are the examples of African witch doctors' cunning) or insufficiently documented (the intriguing attribution of the absence of violence among certain Malayan tribesmen to their application of Freudian-like dream interpretation). Worse however are the chapters on advertising and brainwashing: the former (entitled "Gentle Persuasion") treats the "eight basic propaganda techniques" with unincisive and platitudinous arguments…. The chapter on brainwashing uses the below-the-belt emotional methods it condemns in its second-person horror stories ("you arrive at the prison camp exhausted…. You have already collapsed a few times") about the psychic tortures to which "the communists" subject American prisoners. As the authors [Margaret O. Hyde, Edward S. Marks, and James B. Wells] themselves conclude, brainwashing is "basically a failure," "no magical technique" and a "meaningless term"—so why resurrect the cases of Cardinal Mindszenty and other lesser clergymen whose admittedly harrowing stories elicit here more outrage than understanding? Whether they are attacking bigots or communists Hyde and company indulge freely in sledge-hammer persuasion, never allowing their readers to make up their own minds or even acknowledging that they have minds to use.

"Older Non-Fiction: 'Mysteries of the Mind'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1972 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XL, No. 17, September 1, 1972, p. 1038.