The Ludovico Technique
Taken from A Clockwork Orange
, this was the name of the morally dubious "aversion therapy" undergone by the Villain Protagonist
to "cure" his sadism. This procedure involved him being drugged and strapped to a chair with his eyes held open and made to watch hours of violent scenes (at one point, while his favorite song, Ludwig van Beethoven
's Ninth Symphony, played in the background). Although in the original novel and film, the end result was that Alex felt extreme discomfort whenever he thought about committing violent acts (or whenever he heard Beethoven's Ninth), the scene has been subject to much Popcultural Osmosis
, often ironically as a form of Mind Rape
Unfortunately, this is very much Truth in Television
: classical and operant conditioning work exactly like this (or can, in extreme cases).
See also Restraining Bolt
. Not to be confused with Forced to Watch
Anime & Manga
- A one-time character in Kino's Journey was entered into an experiment of this type after arrest for a violent crime. The researchers endeavored to remove all his greed and violent tendencies. It actually worked, surprisingly enough — but he also lost the will to work, eat, or otherwise preserve himself on a basic physical level.
- Spoofed in Igor, where Eva is strapped down in this manner and forced to watch gory scenes in order to turn her evil, but the channel on the TV gets changed to an episode of Inside The Actors Studio, and she becomes an aspiring actress instead.
- Similar in premise to A Clockwork Orange, the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques used on the protagonist in The Ipcress File film is pretty close to this. He is subjected to sleep deprivation and bombarded by bright lights and loud noises as part of a procedure also used to give kidnapped scientists complete amnesia of any scientific knowledge.
- The Street Fighter film had Guile's friend Charlie transformed into the monstrous Blanka by Bison in a scene evocative of this. However, the scientist in charge, Dhalsim, snuck in good images and sounds as well, like children playing and MLK's "I Have A Dream" speech, to subvert the brainwashing.
- Referenced in Zoolander during the brainwashing sequence.
- The Hunger Games describes a technique called "hijacking," which involves simultaneous exposure to delirium-inducing venom and specific stimuli. In the victim's delirious mind, the stimuli come to be associated with pain and fear. And from the results we see in Peeta, if the stimuli are related to a certain person, then "hijacking" can produce a homicidal hatred of that person in the victim.
- One Nation Under Jupiter: Odia employs similar methods at Camp Piety to make kids develop an aversion to atheism.
- In an episode of Alcatraz this technique combined with electroshock therapy is used to turn a wrongly imprisoned man into a psychotic killer who keeps trying to recreate the crime he was wrongly convicted for.
- Used in a sketch on The Armstrong and Miller Show, against someone who threatens to reveal that half-price pots aren't actually half-price because you never seem them anywhere for full-price. The images flashed up are all of pots marked "For Sale! Half Price!". He even gets to squeeze a shard of pottery in his hand until he bleeds, in reference to The Ipcress File (mentioned above), where Caine's character Harry Palmer resists a similar brain-washing session by painfully cutting his palm with a hidden object to keep himself distracted.
- On Lost, an Other named Karl is being subjected to this kind of treatment as a punishment, in what seemed to be a direct homage, but we don't actually know what it was for.
- It was because Ben didn't want Karl getting his daughter pregnant. Yeah... there's Overprotective Dad, and then there's Ben Linus.
- Considering that pregnant women on the island all get sick and die, it's a bit more understandable, but still.
- They revealed later in "A new man in charge" that the purpose of this treatment was to erase the memories of the subject, after being subjected to interrogation.
- Star Trek:
- Star Trek: The Original Series: In "Dagger of the Mind," it happens to Captain Kirk (and various other prison guinea pigs) thanks to a flashing light hypno-thingy.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "The Mind's Eye," Geordi gets captured by Romulans and brainwashed into a Manchurian Agent by being shown a series of horrifying images sent directly to his visual cortex via his VISOR neural implants.
- In the 2010 Back to the Future game, this happens to the alternate, Big Brother-esque Doc Brown at the hands of his wife, who's the real villain.
- In Destroy All Humans! 2, Ponsonby threatens Crypto with this. One of the response options prompts Crypto to remind him that he has no eyelids to begin with.
- The technique is an item in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. It replaces Isaac's ability to cry with a single giant tear that you can control with the arrow keys.
- Psychologist John Watson (not that guy) did something similar in his Little Albert experiment. He selected a nine-month-old baby ("Little Albert") at a hospital, let him play with a white lab rat, and then made a loud sound so Albert developed a phobia of rats (and by extension, other fluffy white objects). We still don't know who "Albert" was, or whether he maintained his phobias after leaving the hospital (and if so, for how long). Today, the experiment is known as an example of classical conditioning in action - and as an example of bad scientific ethics.
- Sadly, similar "aversive therapy" techniques are still sometimes used to "cure" homosexuality.