The subject of mind control in fiction bugs me. I am dissatisfied with how the topic is usually handled. I see science fiction or fantasy movies or television shows where an individual has their mind hijacked, replaced, or washed, and it is easy and has hardly any side effects. I was watching the pilot of Dark Matters, where a group of mercenaries wake up with no memory of their past lives. There was a TV show titled, Dollhouse, where women have their memories erased and rewritten. I believe the human mind is so little understood, today, that attempting to make the extensive changes shown in these shows would be impossible.
In Dark Matters, the characters have their memories uploaded to computer storage, and all the memories of past events are then erased. So, in the story, they awaken with no memory of their previous life. One part of this might be partially possible with our current knowledge. It is possible to scramble people’s short-term memories. Methods using similar approaches might be able to disrupt longer term memories, also. However, the idea of completely uploading all of a person’s memories, and later downloading them back, is far beyond what we could imagine.
It frustrates me that so many movies and TV shows imply complete takeovers of human minds are possible. Some movies include, Dark City, The Matrix, Source Code, The Manchurian Candidate, Total Recall, Paycheck, Salt, and Inception. Some TV shows include, Marvel Agents of Shield, Dollhouse, Dark Matters, Falling Skies, and Star Trek. Well, as I mentioned above, I do believe some mind control is possible. Religious, and quasi-religious groups have demonstrated cases where individuals seem to lose their senses of self-preservation and followed unreasonable commands from the leadership. A specific example is the Guyana (mass suicide) experience with the Peoples Temple Cult.
I think so much about this, that I published a short booklet about the topic: Mind Control in TV and Movies