Although there are many schools of thought on how a Mind Virus works, the essential and contemporary teachings of the relatively new field of memetics include the work of Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Susan Blackmore, and Richard Brodie.
Our minds excel both at copying information and at following instructions. Remember the four characteristics of a Virus: penetration, copying, possibly issuing instructions, and spreading.
As horrifying as the thought may be initially, our minds are ideally susceptible to infection by mind viruses.
They can penetrate our minds because we are so adept at learning new ideas and information.
They are copied by us communicating with each other, something at which we are getting better and better as a species.
Mind viruses issue instructions by programming us with new memes that affect our behavior.
They spread when the chain of events stemming from that new behavior reaches an uninfected mind.
Examples of neuromarketing and general viruses if the mind range from fashion fads to religious cults. They can be any bit of culture whos existence touches people, causing them to shift their thinking and thus their behavior, eventually causing reinforcement or proliferation of that same bit of culture.
Spontaneous versus Created Human Mind Viruses:
There is a distinction between mind viruses that arose spontaneously and ones that were invented by human consciousness.
I'll call the naturally arising ones cultural viruses and the human-crafted ones designer mind viruses.
A Designer Mind Virus is carefully crafted to infect people with a set of memes that influence them to spread throughout the population.
Designer viruses and cultural viruses can be equally damaging to your pursuit of happiness, although for many people it doesn't feel as bad to have your life ruined by a natural set of circumstances as it does to have some manipulative no-goodnik get the best of you. But despite the difference in perception, the effect of these two kinds of mind viruses is the same: you unwittingly have a portion of yourself diverted from what you might otherwise be doing with your life. Instead you become devoted to doing the work of the mind virus.