Tracing the career arc of Joost A. M. Meerloo: Prominence, fading, and premonitions of menticide

History of the Human Sciences 36 (3-4):55-82 (2023)
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This article traces the career arc of Dutch psychoanalyst Joost A. M. Meerloo by examining his biography and his psychology of interrogation and confession. His life story, particularly his experiences during the German occupation of the Netherlands and his escape to England during World War II, shaped his views on these issues, as well as his rise to prominence as an expert on these topics in the United States. His psychoanalytic perspectives on interrogation and confession, including false confession, reflected the zeitgeist of the First Wave of Cold War interrogation tactics and related scholarship. His career as a scholar of interrogation faded with the study of distinct interrogation tactics used by communists during the Korean War, the emergence of experimental social psychology, and a growing cohort of scholars who rejected his psychoanalytic views in favor of more contemporary approaches. For these reasons, his work remains undervalued, increasing the risks that today’s scholars will fail to recognize his larger contributions and his warnings about vulnerability and psychologists’ roles in military interrogations. The article reviews the rise and fall of the career of Joost A. M. Meerloo as a scholar of Cold War interrogation, including his contributions and his unheeded warnings about vulnerability and psychologists’ roles in military interrogations.



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The Varieties of Religious Experience.William James - 1903 - Philosophical Review 12 (1):62-67.
The Psychology of Religion.E. Starbuck - 1900 - Philosophical Review 9:554.

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