The following is an expanded version of a talk Dick Sutphen delivered at the World Congress of Professional Hypnotists Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. Although the paper carries a 1984 copyright to protect the contents from unlawful duplication for sale, Dick invites individuals to make copies and give them to friends or anyone in a position to communicate this information. Since the paper was released, it has been distributed to millions and is currently available on dozens of Websites. As a result of this awareness, Dick has been contacted by law enforcement officers, the BBC and investigative reporters. On numerous occasions, the information has helped to bring public attention to the misuse of conversion tactics. Some government agencies don’t want this information generally known, for the techniques are used in armed forces basic training. Some Christian Fundamentalists, cults, and human-potential trainings would also prefer that the public remain unaware of how they are recruiting new members.
The contents of this essay hold as true today as they did back in 1984 and they will be just as true tomorrow, the day after, and the day after that. For as long as humanity resides on our planet the techniques of control will hold true.
- The Birth of Conversion/Brainwashing in Christian Revivalism in 1735.
- The Pavlovian explanation of the three brain phases.
- Born-Again preachers: Step-by-step, how they conduct a revival and the expected physiological results.
- The “voice roll” technique used by preachers, lawyers and hypnotists. New trance-inducing churches.
- The six steps to conversion.
- The decognition process. Thought-stopping techniques.
- The “sell it by zealot” technique.
- True believers and mass movements.
- Persuasion techniques: “Yes set”, “Imbedded Commands”, “Shock and Confusion”, and the “Interspersal Techniques.”
- Vibrato and ELF waves (Inducing trance with vibrational sound. Even professional observers will be “possessed” at charismatic gatherings. The “only hope” technique to attend and not be converted).
- Non-detectable Neurophone programming through the skin.
- The medium for mass take-over.
The Essay: The Battle For Your Mind: Persuasion & Brainwashing Techniques Being Used On The Public Today
I’m going to talk about conversion, which is a nice word for brainwashing. Everything I’ll share only exposes the surface of the problem. I don’t know how the misuse of these techniques can be stopped other than through public awareness. It isn’t possible to legislate against what often cannot be detected; and if those who legislate are using these techniques, there is little hope of affecting laws to govern usage.
In talking about mind manipulation, I am talking about my own business. I know it, and I know how effective it can be. I produce hypnosis and subliminal tapes and, in some of my seminars, I use conversion tactics to assist participants to become independent and self-sufficient. But, any time I use these techniques, I point out that I am using them, and those attending have a choice to participate or not. They’re also aware of the desired result of participation. So, to begin, I want to share a basic fact about brainwashing: IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF MAN, NO ONE HAS EVER BEEN BRAINWASHED AND REALIZED, OR BELIEVED, THAT HE HAD BEEN BRAINWASHED. Those who have been brainwashed will usually passionately defend their manipulators, claiming they have simply been “shown the light” … or have been transformed in miraculous ways.
Any study of brainwashing has to begin with a study of Christian revivalism in eighteenth century America. Apparently, Jonathan Edwards accidentally discovered the techniques during a religious crusade in 1735 in Northampton, Massachusetts. By inducing guilt and acute apprehension and by increasing the tension, the sinners attending his revival meetings would break down and completely submit. Technically, what Edwards was doing was creating conditions that wipe the brain slate clean so that the mind accepts new programming. He would tell those attending, “You’re a sinner! You’re destined for hell!”
As a result, one person committed suicide and another attempted suicide. The neighbors of the suicidal converts related that they, too, were affected so deeply that, although they had found “eternal salvation,” they were obsessed with a diabolical temptation to end their own lives.
Once a preacher, cult leader, manipulator or authority figure creates the brain phrase to wipe the brain-slate clean, his subjects are open to new programming. New input, in the form of suggestions, can be substituted for their previous ideas. Because Edwards didn’t turn his message positive until the end of the revival, many accepted the negative suggestions and acted, or desired to act, upon them.
Charles J. Finney was another Christian revivalist who used the same techniques four years later in mass religious conversions in New York. The techniques are still being used today by Christian revivalists, cults, human-potential training, some business rallies and the U.S. armed services.
Let me point out here that I don’t think most revivalist preachers realize or know they are using brainwashing techniques. Edwards simply stumbled upon a technique that worked, and others copied it and have continued to copy it for over two hundred years. And the more sophisticated our knowledge and technology become, the more effective the conversion. I feel strongly that this is one of the major reasons for the increasing rise in Christian fundamentalism, especially the televised variety, while most of the orthodox religions are declining.
The Christians may have been the first to successfully formulate brainwashing, but we have to look to Pavlov, the Russian scientist, for a technical explanation. In the early 1900s, his work with animals opened the door to further investigations with humans. After the revolution in Russia, Lenin was quick to see the potential of applying Pavlov’s research to his own ends.
Three distinct and progressive states of transmarginal inhibition were identified by Pavlov. The first is the Equivalent phase, in which the brain gives the same response to both strong and weak stimuli. Second is the Paradoxical phase, in which the brain responds more actively to weak stimuli than to strong. Third is the Ultra-Paradoxical phase, in which conditioned responses and behavior patterns turn from positive to negative or from negative to positive.
With the progressions through each phase, the degree of conversion becomes more effective and complete. The ways to achieve conversion are many and varied, but the usual first step in religious or political brainwashing is to work on the emotions of an individual or group until they reach an abnormal level of anger, fear, excitement or nervous tension. The progressive result of this mental condition is to impair judgment and increase suggestibility. The more this condition can be maintained or intensified, the more it compounds. Once catharsis or the first brain phase is reached, the complete mental takeover becomes easier. Existing mental programming can be replaced with new patterns of thinking and behavior. Other often-used physiological weapons to modify normal brain functions are fasting, radical or high sugar diets, physical discomforts, regulation of breathing, mantra chanting in meditation, the disclosure of awesome mysteries, special lighting and sound effects, programmed response to incense, or intoxicating drugs.
The same results can be obtained in contemporary psychiatric treatment by electric shock treatments and even by purposely lowering a patient’s blood sugar level with insulin injections.
Before I talk about exactly how some of the techniques are applied, I want to point out that hypnosis and conversion tactics are two distinctly different things — and that conversion techniques are far more powerful. However, the two are often mixed … with powerful results.
If you’d like to see a revivalist preacher at work, there are probably several in your city. Go to the church or tent early and sit in the rear, about three-quarters of the way back. Most likely repetitive music will be played while the people come in for the service. A repetitive beat, ideally ranging from 45 to 72 beats per minute (a rhythm close to the beat of a human heart), is very hypnotic and can generate an eyes-open altered state of consciousness in a high percentage of people. And, once you are in an Alpha state, you are at least 25 times as suggestible as you would be in full Beta consciousness. The music is probably the same for every service, or incorporates the same beat, and many of the people will go into an altered state almost immediately upon entering the sanctuary. Subconsciously, they recall their state of mind from previous services and respond according to the post-hypnotic programming.
Watch the people waiting for the service to begin. Many will exhibit external signs of trance — body relaxation and slightly dilated eyes. Often, they begin swaying back and forth with their hands in the air while sitting in their chairs. Next, the assistant pastor will come out. He usually speaks with a “voice roll”.
A “voice roll” is a patterned, paced style used by hypnotists when inducing a trance. It is also used by many lawyers (several of the most famous are highly trained hypnotists), when they desire to entrench a point firmly in the minds of the jurors. A voice roll can sound as if the speaker were talking to the beat of a metronome, or it may sound as though he were emphasizing every word in a monotonous, patterned style. The words will usually be delivered at the rate of 35 to 60 beats per minute, maximizing the hypnotic effect.
Now the assistant pastor begins the “build-up” process. He induces an altered state of consciousness and/or begins to generate the excitement and the expectations of the audience. Next, a group of young women in “sweet and pure” chiffon dresses might come out to sing a song. Gospel songs are great for building excitement and involvement. In the middle of the song, one of the girls might be “smitten by the Spirit” and fall down or react as if possessed by the Holy Spirit. This effectively increases the intense atmosphere in the room. At this point, hypnosis and conversion tactics are being mixed. And the result is the audience’s attention is now totally focused upon the communication while the environment becomes more exciting or tense.
Right about this time, when an eyes-open mass-induced Alpha mental level has been achieved, they will usually pass the collection plate. In the background, a 45-beat-per-minute voice roll from the assistant preacher might exhort, “Give to God …Give to God…Give to God …” And the audience does give. God may not get the money, but his already wealthy representative will. Next, the fire-and-brimstone preacher will come out. He induces fear and increases the tension by talking about “the devil”, “going to hell” or the forthcoming Armageddon.
In the last such rally I attended, the preacher talked about the blood that would soon be running out of every faucet in the land. He was also obsessed with a “bloody ax of God,” which attendees had seen hanging above the pulpit the previous week. I have no doubt that some people saw it — the power of suggestion given to a group of people in hypnosis assures that at least 10 to 25 percent would see whatever he suggested they see.
In most revivalist gatherings, “testifying” or “witnessing” usually follows the fear-based sermon. People from the audience come up on stage and relate their stories. “I was crippled and now I can walk!” “I had arthritis and now it’s gone!” It is a psychological manipulation that works. After listening to numerous case histories of miraculous healings, the average guy in the audience with a minor problem is sure he can be healed. The room is charged with fear, guilt, intense excitement and expectations.
Now those who want to be healed are frequently lined up around the edge of the room, or they are told to come down to the front. The preacher might touch them on the head firmly and scream, “Be healed!” This releases the psychic energy and, for many, catharsis results. Catharsis is a purging of repressed emotions. Individuals might cry, fall down or even go into spasms. And if catharsis is effected, they stand a chance of being healed. In catharsis, the brain-slate is temporarily wiped clean and the new suggestion is accepted.
For some, the healing may be permanent. For many, it will last four days to a week — a week is, incidentally, how long a hypnotic suggestion given to a somnambulistic subject will usually last. Even if the healing doesn’t last, if they come back every week the power of suggestion may continually override the problem … or sometimes, sadly, it can mask a physical problem which could prove to be very detrimental to the individual in the long run.
I’m not saying that legitimate healings do not take place. They do. Maybe the individual was ready to let go of the negativity that caused the problem in the first place; maybe it was the work of God. Yet I contend that it can be explained with existing knowledge of brain/mind function.
The techniques and staging will vary from church to church. Many use “speaking in tongues” to generate catharsis in some while the spectacle creates intense excitement in the observers.
The use of hypnotic and conversion techniques by religions is sophisticated, and professionals are assuring that they become ever more effective. A man in Los Angeles is designing, building and reworking a lot of churches around the county. He tells ministers what they need and how to use it. This man’s track record indicates that the congregation and the monetary income will double if the minister follows his instructions. He admits that about 80 percent of his efforts are in the sound system and lighting.
Powerful sound and the proper use of lighting are of primary importance in inducing an altered state of consciousness — I’ve been using them for years in my own seminars. However, my participants are fully aware of the process and what they can expect as a result of their participation.
Cults and human-potential training companies are always looking for new converts. To attain them, many use conversion tactics, which must be effective within a short space of time — usually a weekend, but in some cases as quickly as a single day. The following are the six primary techniques used to generate the conversion.
Conversion Tactic 1:
The meetings or training takes place in an area where participants are cut off from the outside world: a private home, a remote or rural setting, or a hotel ballroom where the participants are allowed only limited bathroom usage. In human-potential trainings, the controllers will give a lengthy talk about the importance of “keeping agreements” in life. The participants are told, “If you don’t keep your agreements, your life will never work.” Generally, this is good advice, but the controllers are subverting a positive human value for selfish purposes. The participants vow to themselves and their trainer that they will keep their agreements. Anyone who doesn’t concur will be intimidated into agreement or forced to leave the training. The next step is to get the participants to agree to complete the training, thus assuring a high percentage of conversions for the organization. They will usually have to agree not to take drugs, smoke and sometimes not to eat … or they are given such a short meal break that it creates tension. One of the real reasons for the agreements is to alter internal chemistry, which generates anxiety and hopefully causes at least a slight malfunction of the nervous system, which in turn increases the conversion potential.
Before the gathering is complete, the agreement’s manipulation will be used to ensure that the new converts go out and find new participants. They are intimidated into agreeing to bring in at least two potential converts. Since the importance of keeping agreements is so high on their priority list, the converts will twist the arms of everyone they know, attempting to talk them into attending the free introductory session offered at a future date by the training organization. The new converts are zealots. The inside term for merchandising one of the largest and most successful human-potential trainings is, “sell it by zealot!”
At least a million people are graduates and a good percentage have been left with a mental activation button that assures their future loyalty and assistance if the guru figure or organization calls. Think about the potential political implications of hundreds of thousands of zealots programmed to campaign for their guru.
Be wary of an organization of this type that offers follow-up sessions after the seminar. Follow-up sessions might be weekly meetings or inexpensive seminars given on a regular basis which the organization will attempt to talk you into taking. These regularly scheduled events are used to maintain control. As the early Christian revivalists found, long-term control is dependent upon a good follow-up system.
Conversion Tactic 2:
A schedule is maintained that causes physical and mental fatigue. This is primarily accomplished by long hours in which the participants are given no opportunity for relaxation or reflection.
Conversion Tactic 3:
Techniques are used to increase the tension in the room or environment.
Conversion Tactic 4:
Uncertainty. One of the most effective ways of creating uncertainty is to subject the participants to the fear of being “put on the spot” or encountered by the trainers who play upon guilt feelings, or convince the participants to verbally relate their innermost secrets in front of the others. Activities that emphasize the removal of masks is another powerful ploy. One of the most successful human-potential seminars forces the participants to stand on a stage in front of the entire audience while being verbally attacked by the trainers. A public poll showed that the most fearful of all situations is to speak to an audience. It ranked above window washing outside the 85th floor of an office building. So you can imagine the fear and tension this situation generates within the seminar participants who have agreed to complete the training. Many faint, but most cope with the stress by mentally going away. They literally go into an Alpha state, which automatically opens them to being 25 to 200 times more suggestible. And another loop of the downward spiral into conversion is successfully effected.
Conversion Tactic 5:
The introduction of jargon — new terms that have meaning only to the “insiders” who have participated in the training. Vicious language is also frequently used to purposely make participants uncomfortable.
Conversion Tactic 6:
There is no humor in the communications until the participants are converted. Then, merry-making and humor are highly desirable as symbols of the new joy the participants have supposedly “found”.
I’m not saying that good does not result from participation in such gatherings. But it is important for people to know what has happened and to be aware that continual involvement may not be in their best interest.
Over the years, I’ve conducted professional seminars to teach people to be hypnotists, trainers and counselors. I’ve had many of those who conduct human-potential training and rallies (from the training companies who use the tactics I’ve just described) come to me and say, “I know what I’m doing works, but I don’t know why.” After showing them how and why, many have gotten out of the business or have decided to approach it differently or in a much more loving and supportive manner.
Many of these trainers have become personal friends, and it scares us all to have experienced the power of one person with a microphone and a room full of people. Add a little charisma and you can count on a high percentage of conversion. The sad truth is that a high percentage of people seem to want to become true believers and give away their power.
Cult gatherings or human-potential trainings are an ideal environment to observe firsthand what is technically called the “Stockholm Syndrome”. This is a situation in which those who are intimidated, controlled or made to suffer, begin to love, admire and even sometimes sexually desire their controllers or captors.
But let me inject a word of warning here: If you think you can attend such gatherings and not be affected, you are probably wrong. A perfect example is the case of a woman who went to Haiti on a Guggenheim Fellowship to study Haitian Voodoo. In her report, she related how the music eventually induced uncontrollable bodily movement and an altered state of consciousness. Although she understood the process and thought herself above it, when she began to feel herself become vulnerable to the music, she attempted to fight it and turned away. Anger or resistance almost always assures conversion. A few moments later she was possessed by the music and began dancing in a trance around the Voodoo meeting house. A brain phase had been induced by the music and excitement, and she awoke feeling reborn. The only hope of attending such gatherings without being affected is to be the Buddha and allow no positive or negative emotions to surface. Few people are capable of such detachment.
I once attended Erhard Seminar Training, EST. The training is no longer offered, although a current incarnation of the seminar is called The Forum. My goal in attending was to be an observer — to be Buddha throughout the process, which took place in a Phoenix hotel ballroom with 200 people attending. I remained detached until late afternoon of the final day, when a doctor stood up and accused the est trainer of using brainwashing tactics. The incensed trainer argued back, using ridiculous Zen riddles to try to intimidate the doctor.
After 45 minutes of ranting, the trainer began using the other participants against the protesting doctor, who was speaking the truth. That did it. I stood up, snapped a karate kick at an est staffer and took a spare microphone out of his hands (the kick was to distract and did not inflict pain). Then I verbally went after the trainer. He responded by yelling for his people to call the police. Both the doctor and I walked out of the training room as the police arrived. I’m probably still listed in the est computers as someone who doesn’t keep agreements.
Before leaving the six conversion tactics, I should mention military boot camp. The Marine Corps talks about breaking men down before rebuilding them as new men — as marines. That is exactly what they do, the same way a cult breaks its people down and rebuilds them as happy flower sellers on your local street corner. Every one of the six conversion techniques are used in boot camp. Considering the needs of the military, I’m not making a judgment as to whether this is good or bad. As a simple fact, these men are brainwashed. Those who won’t submit must be discharged or spend much of their time in the brig.
Once the initial conversion is effected, cults, armed services and similar groups cannot have cynicism among their members. Members must respond to commands and do as they are told, otherwise, they are dangerous to the organizational control. This is normally accomplished as a three-step Decognition Process.
Step One is Alertness Reduction:
The controllers cause the nervous system to malfunction, making it difficult to distinguish between fantasy and reality. This can be accomplished in several ways. Poor diet is one; watch out for brownies and Koolaid. The sugar throws the nervous system off. More subtle is the “spiritual diet” used by many cults. They eat only vegetables and fruits; without the grounding of grains, nuts, seeds, dairy products, fish or meat, an individual becomes mentally spacey. Inadequate sleep is another primary way to reduce alertness, especially when combined with long hours of work or intense physical activity. Being bombarded with intense and unique experiences achieves the same result.
Step Two is Programmed Confusion:
You are mentally assaulted while your alertness is being reduced as in Step One. This is accomplished with a deluge of new information, lectures, discussion groups, encounters or one-to-one processing, which usually amounts to the controller bombarding the individual with questions. During this phase of decognition, reality and illusion often merge and perverted logic is likely to be accepted.
Step Three is Thought Stopping:
Techniques are used to cause the mind to go flat — altered-state-of-consciousness techniques that initially induce calmness by giving the mind something simple to deal with that focuses awareness. The continued use brings on a feeling of elation and eventually hallucination. The result is the reduction of thought and eventually, if used long enough, the cessation of all thought and withdrawal from everyone and everything except that which the controllers direct. The mental takeover is then complete. It is important to be aware that when members or participants are instructed to use thought-stopping techniques, they are told that they will benefit by so doing: they will become better soldiers or attain enlightenment.
There are three primary techniques used for thought stopping. The first is Marching: The thump, thump, thump beat literally generates self-hypnosis and thus greater susceptibility to suggestion. In the early stages of his rise to power, Adolph Hitler used marching demonstrations and the excitement as a mass conversion technique for those attending his rallies, and in the decognition phase for his soldiers.
The second thought-stopping technique is Meditation. If you spend 90 minutes or more a day in meditation, after a few weeks, there is high probability that you will not return to full Beta consciousness. You will remain in a fixed state of Alpha for as long as you continue to meditate. I’m not saying this is bad. If you do it yourself, it may be very beneficial. But know that you are causing your mind to go flat. I’ve worked with meditators on an EEG machine and the results are conclusive: the more you meditate, the flatter your mind becomes until, eventually and especially if used to excess or in combination with decognition, all thought ceases. Some spiritual groups call this nirvana — which is just another manipulation. The mental state is simply a predictable physiological result. If heaven on earth is non-thinking and non-involvement, I really question why we are here.
The third thought-stopping technique is Chanting, and often chanting in meditation. Speaking in tongues could also be included in this category.
All three thought-stopping techniques produce an altered state of consciousness. This may be desirable if you are controlling the process, for you also control the input. I personally use at least one self-hypnosis programming session every day and I know how beneficial it is for me. But you need to know if you use these techniques to the degree of remaining continually in Alpha that, although you’ll be very mellow, you’ll also be more suggestible.
Before ending this section, I want to talk about the people who are most susceptible to conversion and joining mass movements. I am convinced that at least a third of the population are what Eric Hoffer calls true believers. They are joiners and followers … people who want to give away their power. They look for answers, meaning and enlightenment outside themselves. Hoffer’s book The True Believer (Harper & Row, 1951) is a classic on mass movements. He says, “True believers are not intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but are those craving to be rid of an unwanted self. They are followers, not because of a desire for self-advancement, but because it can satisfy their passion for self-renunciation!” Hoffer also says that true believers “are eternally incomplete and eternally insecure.”
In my years of conducting seminar trainings, I have constantly run into true believers. All I can do is advise them to seek the True Self within, where meaningful personal answers will be found. I teach that the basics of spirituality are self-responsibility (karma) and the attainment of self-actualization (being compassionate, while also accepting others without judgment, expectations, blame or attempting to control.) But most of the true believers just tell me that I’m not spiritual and go looking for someone who will give them the dogma and structure they desire. Never underestimate the potential danger of these people. They can easily be molded into fanatics who will gladly work and die for their holy cause. It is a substitute for their lost faith in themselves and offers a substitute for individual hope. Hitler’s Brown Shirts were true believers. The Moral Majority is made up of true believers. All cults are composed of true believers. You’ll find them in politics, churches, businesses and social-cause groups. They are the fanatics in these organizations.
Mass Movements will usually have a charismatic leader. The followers want to convert others to their way of living or impose a new way of life — if necessary, by legislating laws forcing others to their view, as evidenced by the activities of the Moral Majority. This means enforcement by guns or punishment, which is the bottom line in law enforcement.
A common hatred, enemy or devil is essential to the success of a mass movement. Hitler’s devil was the Jews; the Born-Again Christians have Satan himself, but that isn’t enough — they’ve added the New Age and all who oppose their integration of church and politics, as evidenced in the political reelection campaigns against those who opposite their views. In revolutions, the devil is usually the ruling power or aristocracy. Some human-potential movements are far too clever to ask their graduates to join anything, thus labeling themselves a cult — but, upon close examination, you’ll find that their devil is everyone who hasn’t taken their training.
There are mass movements without devils but they seldom attain major status. True believers are mentally unbalanced or insecure people, or those without hope or friends. People don’t look for allies when they love, but they do when they hate or become obsessed with a cause. And those who desire a new life and a new order feel the old ways must be eliminated before the new order can be built.
Persuasion isn’t technically brainwashing, but it is a manipulation of the human mind, without the manipulated party being aware what caused his opinion shift. I only have time to very basically introduce you to a few of the many techniques in use today, but the basis of persuasion is always to access your right brain. The left half of your brain is analytical and rational. The right half is creative and imaginative. That is overly simplified but it makes my point. So, the idea is to distract the left brain and keep it busy. Ideally, the persuader generates an eyes-open altered state of consciousness, causing you to shift from Beta awareness into Alpha — a shift that can be measured on an EEG machine.
First, let me give you an example of distracting the left brain. Politicians use these powerful techniques all the time; lawyers use many variations which, I’ve been told, they call tightening the noose.
Assume for a moment that you are watching a politician give a speech. First, he might generate what is called a yes set. These are statements that will cause most listeners to agree; they might even unknowingly nod their heads in agreement. Next come the truisms. These are usually facts that could be debated but, once the politician has his audience agreeing, the odds are in the politician’s favor that the audience won’t stop to think for themselves, thus continuing to agree. Last comes the suggestion. This is what the politician wants you to do and, since you’ve been agreeing all along, you could be persuaded to accept the suggestion. Now, if you’ll listen closely to my political speech, you’ll find that the first three statements are the yes set, the next three are truisms and the last is the suggestion.
“Ladies and gentlemen: are you angry about high food prices? Are you tired of astronomical gas prices? Are you sick of out-of-control inflation? Well, you know the Other Party allowed 18 percent inflation last year; you know crime has increased 50 percent nationwide in the last 12 months, and you know your paycheck hardly covers your expenses any more. Well, the answer to resolving these problems is to elect me, John Jones, to the U.S. Senate.”
You’ve heard it all before. But you might also watch for what are called Imbedded Commands. As an example: On key words, the speaker makes a gesture with his left hand, which research has shown is more apt to access your right brain. Today’s media-oriented politicians and spellbinders are often carefully trained by a whole new breed of specialists who are using every trick in the book — both old and new — to manipulate you into accepting their candidate.
The concepts and techniques of Neuro-Linguistics are so heavily protected that I found out the hard way that to even talk about them publicly or in print results in threatened legal action. Yet Neuro-Linguistic training is readily available to anyone willing to devote the time and pay the price. It is some of the most subtle and powerful manipulation I’ve ever seen. A good friend who recently attended a two-week seminar on Neuro-Linguistics found that many of those she talked to during the breaks were government people.
Another slippery manipulation is called an interspersal technique and the idea is to say one thing with words but plant a subconscious impression of something else in the minds of the listeners and viewers.
As an example, assume you are watching a television commentator make the following statement: “Senator Johnson is assisting local authorities to clear up the stupid mistakes of the companies contributing to the nuclear waste problems.” It sounds like a statement of fact, but if the speaker emphasizes the right word and especially if he makes the proper hand gestures on the key words, you could be left with the subconscious impression that Senator Johnson is stupid. That was the subliminal goal of the statement and the speaker cannot be sued for libel.
Persuasion techniques are also frequently used on a much smaller scale with just as much effectiveness. The insurance salesman knows his pitch is likely to be more effective if he can get you to visualize something in your mind. This is right-brain communication. For instance, he might pause in his conversation, look slowly around your living room and say, “Can you just imagine this beautiful home burning to the ground?” Of course you can! It is one of your unconscious fears and in forcing you to visualize it, you are more likely to be manipulated into signing his insurance policy.
The cults, operating in every airport, use what I call shock and confusion techniques to distract the left brain and communicated directly with the right brain. While waiting for a plane, I once watched one operate for over an hour. He had a technique of almost jumping in front of someone. Initially, his voice was loud then dropped as he made his pitch to take a book and contribute money to the cause. Usually, when people are shocked, they immediately withdraw. In this case they were shocked by the strange appearance, sudden materialization and loud voice of the devotee. In other words, the people went into an Alpha state for security because they didn’t want to confront the reality before them. In Alpha, they were highly suggestible so they responded to the suggestion of taking the book; the moment they took the book, they felt guilty and responded to the second suggestion: give money. We are all conditioned that if someone gives us something, we have to give them something in return. While watching this hustler, I was close enough to notice that many of the people he stopped exhibited an outward sign of Alpha — their eyes dilated.
Subliminals are hidden suggestions, perceived only by your subconscious mind. They can be audio suggestions, hidden behind music, or visual suggestions airbrushed or cleverly incorporated into a picture or design, or words/images flashed on a screen so fast that you don’t consciously see them.
Some subliminal programming tapes offer verbal suggestions recorded at a low volume. I question the efficacy of this technique — if subliminals are not perceptible, they cannot be effective, and subliminals recorded below the audible threshold are therefore useless. The oldest audio subliminal technique uses a voice that follows the volume of the music so subliminals are impossible to detect without a parametric equalizer. But this technique is patented and, when I wanted to develop my own line of subliminal audio cassettes, negotiations with the patent holder proved to be unsatisfactory. My attorney obtained copies of the patents which I gave to talented Hollywood sound engineers, asking them to create a new technique. They found a way to psychoacoustically modify and synthesize the suggestions so that they are projected in the same chord and frequency as the music, thus giving them the effect of being part of the music. But we found that in using this technique, there is no way to reduce various frequencies to detect the subliminals. In other words, although the suggestions are being heard by the subconscious mind, they cannot be monitored with even the most sophisticated equipment.
If we were able to come up with this technique as easily as we did, I can only imagine how sophisticated the technology has become, with government or advertising funding. And I shudder to think about the propaganda and commercial manipulation that we are exposed to on a daily basis. There is simply no way to know what is behind the music you hear. It may even be possible to hide a second voice behind the voice to which you are listening.
The series of books by Bryan Key, Ph.D. on subliminals in advertising and political campaigns, well documents the misuse in many areas, especially printed advertising in newspapers, magazines and posters.
The big question about subliminals is: do they work? Based upon the response from those who have used my tapes, the answer is yes. Subliminal suggestions behind the music in department stores can be advising customers not to shoplift. An East Coast department store chain reported a 37 percent reduction in thefts in the first nine months of testing. A 1984 article in the technical newsletter Brain-Mind Bulletin states that as much as 99 percent of our cognitive activity may benon-conscious, according to the director of the Laboratory for Cognitive Psychophysiology at the University of Illinois. The lengthy report ends with the statement, “these findings support the use of subliminal approaches such as taped suggestions for weight loss and the therapeutic use of hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic programming.”
I could relate many stories that support subliminal programming, but I’d rather use my time to make you aware of even more subtle uses of such programming.
I have personally experienced sitting in a Los Angeles auditorium with over ten thousand people who were gathered to listen to a charismatic figure. Twenty minutes after entering the auditorium, I became aware that I was going in and out of an altered state. Those accompanying me experienced the same thing. Since it is our business, we were aware of what was happening, but those around us were not. By careful observation, what appeared to be spontaneous demonstrations were, in fact, artful manipulations. The only way I could figure how the eyes-open trance had been induced was to pipe a 6- to 7-cycle-per-second vibration into the room behind the air conditioner sound. That vibration generates Alpha, which would render the audience highly susceptible. Ten to 25 percent of the population is capable of a somnambulistic trance level. For these people, the suggestions of the speaker could potentially be accepted as commands.
Vibrato is the tremulous effect imparted in some vocal or instrumental music, and the cycle-per-second range causes people to go into an altered state of consciousness. At one period of English history, singers whose voices contained pronounced vibrato were not allowed to perform publicly because listeners would go into an altered state and have fantasies, often sexual in nature. People who attend opera or enjoy listening to singers like Mario Lanza are familiar with this altered state induced by the performers.
Now, let’s carry this awareness a little farther. There are also inaudible ELFs (extra-low frequency waves). These are electromagnetic in nature. One of the primary uses of ELFs is to communicate with our submarines. Dr. Andrija Puharich, a highly respected researcher, in an attempt to warn U.S. officials about Russian use of ELFs, set up an experiment. Volunteers were wired so their brain waves could be measured on an EEG. They were then sealed in a metal room that could not be penetrated by a normal signal.
Puharich then beamed ELF waves at the volunteers. ELFs go right through the earth and right through metal walls. Those inside couldn’t know if the signal was or was not being sent. And Puharich watched the reactions on the technical equipment: Thirty percent of those inside the room were taken over by the ELF signal in six to ten seconds. When I say taken over, I mean their behavior followed the changes anticipated at very precise frequencies. Waves below 6 cycles per second caused the subjects to become emotionally upset, and even disrupted bodily functions. At 8.2 cycles, they felt high — as though they had been in masterful meditation, learned over a period of years. Eleven to 11.3 cycles induced waves of depressed agitation which could lead to riotous behavior.
Dr. Patrick Flanagan is a personal friend. In the early 1960’s, as a teenager, Pat was listed as one of the top scientists in the world by Life magazine. Among his many inventions was a device he called the Neurophone — an electronic instrument that can successfully program suggestions directly through contact with the skin. When he attempted to patent the device, the government demanded that he prove it worked. When he did, the National Security Agency confiscated the neurophone. It took Pat two years of legal battle to get his invention back.
In using the device, you don’t hear or see a thing; it is applied to the skin, which Pat claims is the source of special senses. The skin contains more sensors for heat, touch, pain, vibration and electrical fields than any other part of the human anatomy.
In one of his tests, Pat conducted two identical seminars for a military audience — one seminar one night and one the next night, because the size of the room was not large enough to accommodate all the attendees at one time. When the first group proved to be very cool and unwilling to respond, Patrick spent the next day making a special tape to play at the second seminar. The tape instructed the audience to be extremely warm and responsive and for their hands to become tingly. The tape was played through the neurophone, which was connected to a wire he placed along the ceiling of the room. There were no speakers, so no sound could be heard, yet the message was successfully transmitted from that wire directly into the brains of the audience. They were warm and receptive, their hands tingled and they responded, according to programming, in other ways that Pat doesn’t want publicly discussed.
The more we find out about how human beings work, the more we learn to control human beings. What scares me most is that the medium for takeover is already in place! The television set in your living room and bedroom may be doing a lot more than just entertaining you.
Before I continue, let me point out something else about an altered state of consciousness. When you go into an altered state, you transfer into right brain, which results in the internal release of brain opiates: enkephalins and Beta-endorphins, which are chemically almost identical to opium. In other words, it feels good and you want to experience more.
Tests by researcher Herbert Krugman showed that while viewers were watching TV, right-brain activity outnumbered left-brain activity by a ratio of two to one. Put more simply, the viewers were in an altered state more often than not. They were getting their Beta-endorphin fix.
To measure attention spans, psychophysiologist Thomas Mulholland of the Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts, attached young viewers to an EEG machine that was wired to shut the TV set off whenever the children’s brains produced a majority of Alpha waves. Although the children were told to concentrate, only a few could keep the set on for more than 30 seconds. Most viewers are already hypnotized. To deepen the trance is easy. One simple way is to place a blank, black frame every 32 frames in the film that is being projected. This creates a 45-beat-per-minute pulsation perceived only by the subconscious mind — the ideal pace to generate deep hypnosis.
The commercials or suggestions presented following this Alpha-inducing broadcast are much more likely to be accepted by the viewer. The high percentage of the viewing audience that naturally attains a somnambulistic-depth could very well accept the suggestions as commands — as long as the commands did not ask the viewer to do something contrary to his morals, religion or self-preservation.
The medium for takeover is here. By the age of 16, children have spent 10,000 to 15,000 hours watching television — more time than they spend in school. In the average home, the TV set is on for six hours and 44 minutes per day.
A research project by Jacob Jacoby, a Purdue University psychologist, found that of 2,700 people tested, 90 percent misunderstood even such simple viewing fare as commercials or a TV series they watched regularly. Only minutes after watching a show, the typical viewer missed 23 to 36 percent of the questions about what they had just seen. Maybe this is because they were going in and out of trance. When in a deep trance, you must be instructed to remember — otherwise you forget consciously, while your subconscious mind remembers everything.
I have just touched the tip of the iceberg. When you start to combine subliminal messages behind the music, subliminal visuals projected on the screen, hypnotically produced visual effects, sustained musical beats at a trance-inducing pace, you are talking conversion — brainwashing. Every hour that you spend watching TV you become more conditioned. In case you thought there was a law against any of these things, guess again. There isn’t. There are a lot of powerful people out there who probably have plans for you?
If this article has wet your appetite for winning back your mind and you want some follow up reading then I suggest The Lucifer Effect written by Phillip Zimbardo. The online version (linked) is a nice, well presented, easy to follow read.
I hope I’ve helped you move away from the heard and a little closer to yourself.