In recent decades many events have occurred which have brought attention to the allegations of brainwashing. For example, the Chinese communists, the huge involvement of young American people in religious cults, the death of David Koresh and his followers, the Branch Davidians, in Waco, Texas. The influence of Jim Jones over the members of the Peoples Temple in Guyana; who at his instructions killed their children and themselves. It was said that the Peoples Temple was a cult, and that it had brainwashed its members. But what is brainwashing? This idea has been around at least since the Korean War. Seemingly, the Red Chinese in the Korean War had brainwashed American pilots to make Communists out of them. Brainwashing is most likely the explanation to these incidents, or does brainwashing even exist? .
Brainwashing is a method of influencing people to change their beliefs and accept as true what they previously has considered false. The term was first used to refer to methods practiced by the Chinese Communist. Brainwashing described "thought reform" programs they developed after taking control of China in 1949. During the Korean War, the Chinese and North Koreans used similar techniques to convert American prisoners to Communism. This form of brainwashing begins by isolating the victims in a prison cell or a small room. They are told repeatedly and harshly that their political, religious, or social beliefs are wrong. They are also shown the advantages of their captor's position. Many victims are starved and allowed little or no sleep. Such torment eventually causes some people to give up their beliefs and accept those of their persecutors. .
Many relatively well-educated and wealthy young people have been involved with new religious movements called cults over the past two or three decades in America and other Western countries. Controversy has erupted about the meaning of this participation, as parents, friends, political leaders, and others have attempted to understand why this has occurred.