|"There is no war within the walls. Here we are safe. Here we are free."|
|— A Dai Li agent brainwashing Jet.|
Brainwashing was a technique developed by Long Feng in order to incapacitate those who opposed him and utilized by the Dai Li during the Conspiracy of Ba Sing Se as a means of keeping citizens from speaking of the Hundred Year War. The technique allowed the Dai Li to change attitudes, alter beliefs, augment personalities, and erase an individual's memories. Decades later, Commander Guan and Dr. Sheng begin to use more technologically advanced brainwashing techniques to use on people to help Guan win a political election.
The method was used on Jet when he was arrested, following his claim that Iroh and Zuko were firebenders. After chiding a downcast Joo Dee for falling behind in her duties, Long Feng induced a hypnotic state over her by reciting a special phrase, indicating that she had been brainwashed in the past. When Team Avatar infiltrated the Dai Li base underneath Lake Laogai, they saw a roomful of women being brainwashed into believing they were Joo Dee, ready to carry out the Dai Li's bidding.
Later, during a battle in the underground base, Long Feng managed to hypnotize Jet with the same phrase, "the Earth King has invited you to Lake Laogai", prompting him to respond with, "I am honored to accept his invitation", before proceeding to attack Avatar Aang.
Following the defeat of Kuvira, Commander Guan and Dr. Sheng utilized modern technology to upgrade the Dai Li's brainwashing methods. Using this new method, they manipulated the vote of an upcoming political election, as well as turned Mako, Bolin, and Asami into loyal soldiers to be used against Korra.
The Dai Li often brought victims to their secret headquarters beneath the surface of Lake Laogai where they would proceed to brainwash them. During the process of brainwashing, agents would repeatedly recite anything they wished for the victims to believe.
When the Dai Li were brainwashing Jet, they used a dimly lit lantern which slowly traveled on a circular rail around the agent brainwashing him while stone cuffs prevented him from moving his arms, legs, or head. The agent repeated phrases to assure Jet he was safe, and that there was no war within the walls.
In the case of brainwashing the young women, the women would simultaneously repeat the words of a single agent. The process could also give the subject a secondary task, to be accomplished after saying the trigger-phrase "The Earth King has invited you to Lake Laogai." Long Feng used this code phrase on both Jet and Joo Dee.
With the advancement of technology, Dr. Sheng was able to greatly improve the brainwashing process, making it more reliable, as people brainwashed by the previous method would "more often than not" return to normal. The newer method makes use of magnetic waves effect on the brain of the victim to make the brainwashing stick.
One Dai Li agent was specifically assigned as an "instructor" by Long Feng. In truth, he was hired to brainwash a number of women into becoming Joo Dees and to recreate them as the Grand Secretariat's reliable propaganda machine. He was responsible for teaching the Joo Dees "charm, poise, and the dissemination of the Dai Li party line." This particular Dai Li agent was assigned this task entirely on account of his smile, which became the "perma-grin" worn by every Joo Dee.
When brainwashed, peoples minds are rewritten into believing anything the brainwasher states. The victim forgets any information the brainwasher wishes to erase from their mind. They will also obey any commands given to them by their handler.
Long Feng was able to activate a subject's secondary task with the code phrase. When this was done, the subject entered a trance state and answered the code with "I am honored to accept his invitation." In Jet's case, the task was to attack Aang. In Joo Dee's case, she was told to wait for specific orders.
There are only two known methods of curing brainwashing.
The waterbending technique of healing has been known to be capable of bringing a subject out of their hypnotic state. Jet's brainwashed state was broken when Katara used her healing abilities on him.
Oftentimes, familiar surroundings are able to slowly regenerate the memory of a brainwashed victim or even completely reverse the effects of brainwashing. Visiting the Dai Li's secret underground base evidently revived Jet's memory of being captured and brought there by Dai Li agents. After a brief duel ensued with Long Feng battling Aang and Jet, Long Feng was able to bring Jet under his control by reciting the code phrase, which prompted Jet to attack Aang. However, when Aang reminded Jet that he was a Freedom Fighter, his brainwashed state was once again broken.
Kuvira stated that it might be possible to undo the brainwashing, though she did not elaborate. She did, however, mention that the new brainwashing machine would need to be reverse engineered.
- Asami Sato
- A large group of women who called themselves "Joo Dee"
- People who caused problems relating to the Hundred Year War in Ba Sing Se during Long Feng's reign as Grand Secretariat
- The masses who will be voting in the upcoming election
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (September 22, 2006). "City of Walls and Secrets". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 14. Nickelodeon.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com (link). No longer updated, encyclopedia now broken though archived here.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (November 6, 2006). "Lake Laogai". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 17. Nickelodeon.