from “KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation” (CIA torture guide) dated July 1963:
The aim of the Alice in Wonderland or confusion technique is to confound the expectations and conditioned reactions of the interrogatee. He is accustomed to a world that makes some sense, at least to him: a world of continuity and logic, a predictable world. He clings to this world to reinforce his identity and powers of resistance.
The confusion technique is designed not only to obliterate the familiar but to replace it with the weird. Although this method can be employed by a single interrogator, it is better adapted to use by two or three. When the subject enters the room, the first interrogator asks a doubletalk question — one which seems straightforward but is essentially nonsensical. Whether the interrogatee tries to answer or not, the second interrogator follows up (interrupting any attempted response) with a wholly unrelated and equally illogical query. Sometimes two or more questions are asked simultaneously. Pitch, tone, and volume of the interrogators’ voices are unrelated to the import of the questions. No pattern of questions and answers is permitted to develop, nor do the questions themselves relate logically to each other. In this strange atmosphere the subject finds that the pattern of speech and thought which he has learned to consider normal have been replaced by an eerie meaninglessness. The interrogatee may start laughing or refuse to take the situation seriously. But as the process continues, day after day if necessary, the subject begins to try to make sense of the situation, which becomes mentally intolerable. Now he is likely to make significant admissions, or even to pour out his story, just to stop the flow of babble which assails him. This technique may be especially effective with the orderly, obstinate type.
- wiki: KUBARK_Counterintelligence_Interrogation#_note-NSA
- Muckrock: CIA declassifies new portions of Cold War-era interrogation manual
- The CIA’s Declassified Torture Handbook: How to Create a “World of Fear, Terror, Anxiety, Dread.