My psychological suspense series, The Agents of the Nevermind, to be published beginning in January (Insubordinate Books) consists of independent, stand-alone books, with the theme of resisting social engineering. In this series, the social engineers are the Agents.
Social engineering is a perfect topic to pair with psychological suspense, as that genre involves characters struggling to wade through terrible manipulation of their thoughts and emotions as they try to navigate the illusions they suffer from. While sometimes they are deluded because of naturally occurring amnesia from brain damage, for example, usually another force is deliberately immersing them in a false reality.
Social engineering is a ubiquitous practice in governments as a means of controlling the populace for an agenda. Counterintelligence is designed for that purpose. For example, if the military wants to hide advanced technology so their enemies don’t have a chance to prepare for it, or if they want to cover up covert testing on civilians or animals, they can create the belief that aliens are doing those things. Never mind that many materials used are easily identifiable as earthly, some even stamped with brand names.
If they want to create a gullible public willing to take the blame for creating their own reality rather than calling out perpetrators, whom they forgive because they were only playing the bad guy role they chose before incarnating, counterintelligence can orchestrate the New Age. British spies created its core, Theosophy, which, among other things, allowed their subversion of India in the 1700s, as they could produce enough opium to ruin China.
If they want to go to war with a country to take their resources and drugs and stop them from going off the dollar standard, they set off a fake terrorist attack inside their own borders and blame the other country, so people will support ruining them.
People are easily duped unless they are taught the rewards and methods of questioning everything, ideally from an early age. Countless people are waiting to gaslight whole populations and then train the ones who are successfully deluded into demonizing the people who catch on.
Psychological suspense can capture what it’s like for the characters to go through such traumas, and that encourages the readers to suspect people in their lives and study the kinds of tricks they use. Readers can vicariously go through the process of uncovering the truth, and helping others to escape the clutches of psychological manipulation.
I write in my blog, The Engineering of Society, about this topic. I hope that people who read the blog will also find the fiction interesting and vice versa. I like my antagonists to be worthwhile characters to scare people with. Tension and fear can have some tangible benefit in that case besides just adrenal over-stimulation for its own sake.