Bound by a spell. It’s a fate we associate with the victims of fairy tale witches. But spells are a real life phenomenon, and they need to be understood if they are to be avoided or broken.
A spell is similar to a computer virus that gets programmed (cast) into a mind’s subconscious operating system. Because its presence is undetected, it works like the invisible strings connecting a puppet master to its puppet. And like the corrupting effects of a computer virus, spells corrupt how their victims think, perceive, interpret, feel, and behave.
The concept of putting someone under a spell is also referred to as brainwashing. One of the indications of a brainwashed mind is that it remains rigidly closed - to contradictory information, alternative explanations, and critical thinking. One appeal to having a closed mind is that it preserves the security of certainty, in contrast to the vulnerability of uncertainty. The spellbound mind can confidently function on autopilot without the stress of having to independently think through complex value judgments. The party or institution responsible for the spell then has an automaton (or multiple automatons) serving its purpose.
Many spells are harmless, such as convincing a child that Santa Claus brings presents to well-behaved girls and boys. The defining characteristic of a malevolent spell is that it manipulates the victim to serve the interests of the spell caster at the expense of the spellbound. Large scale examples of this include when a government or religion utilizes institutional propaganda to instigate a war. The institution’s real motive may be for power, land, and/or profit, but the spell will convince the masses that the war is for their own protection. The puppets’ lives and tax dollars are then wasted in service of their puppet masters' gains. A smaller scale example would be when a spouse or parent denigrates their spouse or child to the point where the victim believes they are unworthy, then manipulating their victim to do everything in their power to earn the love being withheld from them.
Every successful spell involves a relationship between a spell caster and their spellbound victim, and each possesses unique characteristics. Spell casters embody some form of personal power that they skillfully wield over their targets. It might be an air of authority, dominance, confidence, holiness, righteousness, charm, sex appeal, seductiveness, wealth, fame, or some other form of superior status. They are impressive and know how to make an impression. Those most vulnerable to spells are highly impressionable. They are easily persuaded by the power of others to submit to the spell caster’s prescribed beliefs, dictating how they think, feel, and behave. Victims may be enthralled by the magnetism or chemistry of their manipulators, blinded to risk the same way a young teenager becomes enthralled by the manipulative attentions of a high status upperclassman. Parents know all too well how impossible it is to snap their kids out of this kind of infatuation spell.