Word of The Day for Monday, November 15, 2010


men•ti•cide (MEN-tuh-syd)  n

the systematic effort to undermine and destroy a person's values and beliefs, as by the use of prolonged interrogation, drugs, torture, etc., and to induce radically different ideas

Synonyms: brainwashing

Sentence Examples:
• The core of the strategy of menticide is the taking away of all hope, all anticipation, all belief in a future. It destroys the very elements which keep the mind alive. The victim is utterly alone.
• One critic in particular speaks of what amounts to menticide when he says: “Iago works for the substitution of Othello's view of himself by a narrative drawn from racist discourse.”
•The controllers of this society have made use of psychological warfare to erode and destroy the will and mind of Black people. This is menticide pure and simple.
• To preserve their sanity and to prevent menticide—the death of the mind—those that chose to live became combatants once more. Their Yankee humor and ingenuity proved powerful weapons.

The Storyline
The mention of Andy in this context brought back for Anna the scandal over his departure from the seminary - the assumption that it was about her, and the reality that Andy was fleeing what felt to him an organized menticide in reaction to his unorthodox positions.

In 1951, psychiatrist Joost Meerloo coined the term "menticide" to describe the kind of systematic psychological violence that the Chinese inflicted upon American POWs during the Korean War. "Menticide" is a word derived from "mens", the mind, and "caedere", to kill.

Sources: Dictionary.com

Why This Word:
Menticide is a word with an agenda. It steps up the seriousness of brainwashing and equates it with other forms of killing - homicide, genocide, etc - by inference if not overtly through it's use of the root -cide. Not surprisingly then this word is attractive to people with an agenda.
In usage, though, there is a useful distinction between menticide and brainwashing. In contrast to brainwashing and the word's origin, out in the wild menticide seems to be applied to instances of mass destruction of culture as well as to more general instances of mental reprogramming by means other than torture or deprivation. That it, in use, it seems to have a broader sense than brainwashing.

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

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