Mind control fiction is a body of literature that includes or is based on the premise that some kind of force is capable of controlling an individual's mind, usually in order to prompt him into some course of action that he normally would not consider. Mind control themes are most prominent in science fiction and fantasy stories, as mind control is generally achieved though some kind of magic or fictional technology. In other genres, it may be achieved through government brainwashing techniques or through subliminal messages embedded in television or in other media. Mind control fiction is popular because it explores the common human fear of losing control of one's free will and being forced to submit to the will of another individual or group, often without conscious knowledge or awareness of doing so.
Most mind control fiction exists as prose in the form of short stories or novels, though some narrative poems exploring the idea of mind control do exist. In a typical story arc in mind control fiction, a character falls under the influence of some form of mind control technique. He is then forced to act against his will for part of the story, allowing readers to imagine the restricted freedom associated with the loss of free will. Such stories are often resolved when the protagonist is able to free himself or someone else from the effects of mind control and get revenge on the individual who took control of him. There are countless variations to such stories, but the above is a common general story arc, as it explores the fear of lost mental freedom but reasserts the power of the individual human mind in the end.
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The precise mechanism by which one's mind is controlled varies greatly across works of mind control fiction. In some, a device that manipulates brain waves or brain chemistry may be used. In others, subliminal messages embedded in entertainment may be used to exert subtle control over the minds of an entire population. Particularly in fantasy, some form of magic is often used to gain control over the mind of another individual. Each method of mind control can generally be escaped in some way, though this is not always the case, particularly when minor characters are lost to mind control techniques.
As is common in many forms of speculative fiction, mind control fiction often explores the ethics of controlling one's mind. This is particularly true of mind control fiction set in contemporary times in which government programs influence the minds of individuals to turn against their own friends or countries. While the benefits to the individual or government in charge are clear, the implications of so completely invading another individual's mind are extreme and the consequences of doing so frequently turn out to be dire.