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The Dark History of Chinese Water Torture Allegedly Driving People Crazy

We know how creative people can be when it comes to torture methods. Because we have been involved in fights and wars since the first day of our existence. For thousands of years, people have been looking for ways to make each other suffer. Chinese water torture is one of these ways. We have researched the Chinese water torture, which differs from other torture methods with its dark history, for you. Here’s what you need to know about this query method that is claimed to drive people crazy…

Humans have been searching for ways to inflict pain on each other for hundreds or even thousands of years.

We witness forms of punishment and coercion developed over the years. From iron maiden to chains, from whips to tools… When we think about all this, water torture sounds pretty light. However, when we look at the transformations it has undergone over time, we see that it differs from other types of torture.

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In the Middle Ages, knives, strings, or blunt instruments were often used for torture.

However, we can say that Chinese water torture is a much more insidious method. According to the New York Times, this method of torture involves holding the victim still and dripping cold water on their forehead or head. After a while, the water splash, which becomes jarring, begins to stress the victim.

So where did Chinese water torture first appear?


There are deficiencies in the historical record of this form of torture. However, it first appears in the early 16th century. Hippolytus de Marsiliis, a successful Italian-born lawyer, realizes that the water constantly dripping on the stone erodes the surface after a while. Then he decides to use this method on humans as well.

This torture method is also used in French and German mental hospitals in the mid-1800s. In this way, he also gets a chance to resist time. In those years, some doctors believed that insanity had physical causes. Therefore, they hoped to cure the sick with water torture. Thinking that insanity occurs when blood pools in the head, these doctors used a drip machine to relieve internal congestion. Patients were immobilized, blindfolded, and cold water dripped regularly on their foreheads. This “cure” method has also been used for problems such as headaches and insomnia. Of course it didn’t work.

It remains unclear when the term Chinese water torture came into use.


The term, which entered the folk lexicon in 1892, was used in a short story in the Overland Monthly. The person who popularized this term was the famous magician Harry Houdini. Houdini built a water tank in England in 1911, which he called the Chinese water torture cell. While the audience watched him through the windshield, he was in the water aiming to get rid of the chains. He first performed this show to the people of Berlin on September 21, 1912.

Throughout history, we encounter different water tortures.


After the success of Harry Houdini, this story spread all over Europe. Meanwhile, water torture became more common and became a common interrogation method from the second half of the 20th century. For example, the method of waterboarding, in which the victim’s face is covered with a piece of cloth and then water is poured out, is frequently used by the US government. The USA, which used this method of torture in Guantanamo Bay in the 2000s, was exposed and it was revealed that this torture was practiced in many parts of the world.

But does Chinese water torture really work?


Chinese water torture can, of course, be effective in forcing victims to confess. But experts think it’s because of the restraint methods used, rather than the water itself. In addition, the irregular instillation of these drops can also stress the victims. Prolonged exposure to unpredictable situations can seriously affect our mental health.

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