Andrew Kunz

Date of Award


First Advisor

Anne O'Dwyer

Second Advisor

Jennifer Daniels

Third Advisor

Sharon Hartunian


Interrogators, dictators, and abusive partners use similar mechanisms, and exploit similar human characteristics to gain dominion over their prisoners, nations, and companions. In their attempts to control their target, each pursues similar goals, all in service of subjugation and the promotion of dependence within their victims. These tactics of domination and coercion and the human characteristics that exacerbate and mediate their effects are explored. Albert Biderman, in 1957, described the conditions that American prisoners of war faced during interrogation and created an initial set of eight coercive tactics. Rene Renick expanded this analysis to include the descriptions of domestic abuse. In this work, I propose a further expansion of Biderman’s original tactics to include a ninth method of coercion, the destabilization of perception, and a complementary expansion to the political side of domination of a group or even a society, where coercion plays a large part. In particular, this essay addresses how misinformation and the division of communities leave nations as well as people susceptible to being overtaken by abusive leaders.

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