A brief history of ‘mindfucking’

Jules Evans
13 min readNov 25, 2022

There are at least four definitions of ‘mindfuck’:

1) People fucking with other people’s sense of reality via disinformation or pranks for their own purposes (which could be to amuse themselves, to liberate other people, or to advance some other agenda)

For example: ‘Cambridge Analytica mindfucked the British voters over Brexit’

2) People fucking with other people’s sense of reality while they’re on psychedelic drugs (to amuse themselves, or to advance some other agenda)

For example: ‘Bill really mindfucked me when I was on acid’

3) A general state of confusion, especially on psychedelics, not necessarily caused by someone else with malicious intent.

For example: ‘That festival was a total mindfuck.’

4) An enjoyably twisty movie that messes with your mind.

For example: ‘Christopher Nolan has mastered the art of the mindfuck movie’.

I want to focus on the first and second uses of the word, and particularly on the practice of maliciously messing with someone’s sense of reality while they’re in trance states, ie on drugs or online, for your own sadistic ego-gratification.

The term mindfuck began its life as a central practice in the prank-religion of Discordianism, which was started by Greg Hill and Kerry Wendell Thornley in the early 1960s. Discordianism is dedicated to liberating humans from power systems and belief systems through acts of anarchic humour. The Discordian historian Adam Gorightly defines the mock-religion’s guiding ethos as ‘sowing the seeds of chaos as a means of achieving a higher state of awareness.’

Discordianism owed something to the Sixties idea of the ‘prank’. Anarchist hippy groups like the Merry Pranksters or the Yippies sought to liberate Americans from their square mind-set through pranks like throwing fake money onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, or handing out LSD at parties. Ken Kesey, founder of the Pranksters, said:

the purpose of psychedelics is to learn the conditioned responses of people and then prank them that’s the only way to get people to ask questions, and until they ask questions, they are going to remain conditioned robots

Jules Evans