A SOUND IDEA for EDUCATION - TRAINING - PERSONAL POTENTIAL
ANALYSIS OF A TREND
In the early 1980’s, Australians entered a new era which represented personal and social transformations and crossed a multitude of boundaries. One of the most readily apparent of these transformations is seen in the weaning of dependence on institutions, such as the education and medical establishments, in exchange for self-dependence to meet our personal needs. Perhaps the most striking result of this self-dependence is that we not only want to rely on ourselves, we also want to develop ourselves. In so doing, self-improvement, self-management and self-motivation has become a major part of many peoples’ desires. As an adjunct to this transformation the concept of employment and career has come to take on a new meaning which includes not only the material reward, but now equally as important, we have begun to seek personal fulfilment; for more meaning to our lives; for something beyond materialism; for a healthy environment in which we can develop to our maximum potential.
Much of the reason for this transformation is largely due to the serious issues to which mental, physical, emotional and environmental stress has contributed. Consider the following: Increasing sophistication of technology -- techno-stress: Privatisation, mergers and take-overs: Increased working hours, restructuring and de-layering: Fear of redundancy. Add to these the stresses of: Family life: Relationships: Financial resources.
The first method which clearly exemplifies the intensity of the transformation has been attention to change in diet. For the first time nutrition is being seriously considered, not only as a preventative measure against ill-health, but also as part of a regimen to achieve enhanced mental and physical performance; and exercise, running, jogging and working out has become the in-thing to do and the health club has become the social club in the 2000’s.
In essence, this new concept is taking hold and we are discovering that by accepting a way to change our behaviour, and by taking responsibility for ourselves, we do enhance and enrich our lives.
Finding methods for changing behaviour has become the foundation stone for self-management and the search has opened up a new aspect which appears to have considerably great promise and potential: The Human Mind.
Much of the success and popular acceptance of the nutritional and exercise aspects of the self-help movement is due to our acceptance that by changing old habits, new behaviours would result and a healthier life could be achieved.
During this same period of time a tremendous outpouring of positive thinking methods has erupted into the marketplace and is being met with enormous public acceptance. Among the more notable and recognisable figures to offer a success formula was Norman Vincent Peale, in his landmark book, The Power of Positive Thinking. Countless others continue to follow, all offering, in some form or fashion, a method or formula which, when implemented, will yield the results for which we are looking. Today, instructions or how to materials suggesting ways to make more money, be a better manager, lose weight, set goals or just generally be more successful and live a happier life have come to represent a $100 million industry. Unquestionably, tremendous personal and social benefits are arising out of this new consciousness and the message is clearly, “if you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, get down there and light the jolly thing yourself”.
However, if there is a fly to be found in this ointment of self-help it is the realisation that, unfortunately, many methods have been unsuccessful in creating lasting changes and few people are actually successful at achieving goals. Although the allure of a successful life and a habit-free existence are promised, and we are given specific instructions and attractive ways to go about achieving this, the methods work for a time and then for one reason or another the light goes out and we revert to our old behaviour. Even the most promising methods found in the blockbuster best-sellers, work for a while and then, somehow we lose our focus and also lose their importance in our lives. Exciting ideas, great breakthroughs and inspirations, which at first seem like all we ever wanted, become once read or half read books sitting on a shelf.
If lasting benefits have been elusive one would have to question why we would collectively pour over $100 million annually into these deficient methods. Obviously, there is a tremendous need, which we share, to solve our problems in the easiest and most pain free manner possible. “If one method has not worked perhaps an alternative method would”, seems to be our psychology, and so the question then becomes, “what if some of the methods have not delivered the desired result”? The answer is to be found in the method and in the individual. Something is missing from both.
Analysis of what has worked, and what has not, reveals three missing ingredients from almost all self-help methods.
PERMANENCE -- The solutions are temporary. Without constant attention, even the most exciting success breakthroughs wind up as only good ideas. Few, if any, offer built-in ways to keep them working.
KNOWLEDGE -- The second missing ingredient from most self-help methods is a knowledge of the physiological process of our brain. Without an understanding of the actual process by which our brain accepts information, and in turn, responds, directs and controls our behaviour, it would be difficult to create any self-help plan which works and keeps working indefinitely.
APPROACH -- In our approach to establishing a new behaviour, the third and also the most critical ingredient is a new frame of reference containing a new word-for-word set of directions for the control centre of our brain.
THE DYNAMICS OF SUBCONSCIOUS AWARENESS.
Our five senses recognise millions of bits of information every second, far more than our conscious awareness can register, but just because we cannot consciously register all this information does not mean it is gone forever; our subconscious awareness accepts the information instead, and stores it away in our data file, our library of values, memories, expectations, beliefs, skills, habits and patterns of behaviour. It is from this data file that our values, opinions, skills and personality and emotions are formed. And so the present us is the result of all the ideas, inputs and influences which we have stored since our conception.
Unfortunately, not all of the information we store is in our best interest. We have all been exposed to negative influences during our lifetime; in fact, researchers estimate that, as children, we receive twenty negative instructions for each positive, reassuring statement. Our subconscious is imbedded with self limiting information and it is the sum of all these influences and experiences, whether good or otherwise, which add up to what we are and how we see, think and feel about ourselves. Negative conditioning, and positive conditioning, will stay with us for life, until we do something about it.
When we lack the confidence to attempt to accomplish a worthwhile goal we now know that our frame of reference contains information damaging to our self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth. This information could also rob us of the creativity, imagination and even the vitality required to tackle projects which another would find easy to accomplish. The negative conditioning needs to be replaced with positive, helpful information which agrees with our conscious choice.
It is generally acknowledged that the ability to think is our most powerful asset. It can also be our worst enemy. This is so because how we think and what we think truly makes a difference to the quality of our life. We can start now to change our life for the better. We are free to choose new attitudes, new beliefs, new styles of thinking and create new frames of reference which will lead us in more rewarding and successful directions both personally and professionally. The most important investment we can make is an investment in our self, an investment to recreate our self into the person we would like to be, more relaxed, more motivated, more confident, more creative, more positive, more decisive, more assertive, more organised, more disciplined, more efficient, more healthy, etc. etc…
The study of the subconscious has been at the forefront of human potential development for over one hundred years. Scientists and psychologists are continually researching for more effective ways to reach and understand the source of human behaviour. Since the early 1800’s, when simple hypnosis was first highlighted, more and more people have become aware of the laboratory research which established that we can perceive auditory, visual and olfactory stimuli which are subliminal, i.e. below the level of our conscious awareness. When we break the word subliminal down, and examine it from a semantic point of view, where sub meaning below or under, and liminal (from limen) meaning the line between the threshold of objective (conscious) and subjective (subconscious) awareness are joined, this represents the threshold below conscious rational awareness. This definition in itself conveys a tremendous amount of meaning to the word subliminal. The understanding and technology of the computer has made colossal advances in recent decades. So also, has the understanding of the bio-computer -- and the world of the subconscious.
However, we must be careful in accepting purely semantic or dictionary definitions as representing the full meaning of a scientific discipline. The reason for this is that scientific disciplines are the end result of an initial thought or question carried through to its conclusion. Often times these simple thoughts result in absolutely astounding ramifications that prohibit one word labels conveying the total meaning. Therefore, to understand these disciplines and appreciate their full significance we look to the simple questions that were asked at the very beginning which led to the explosion of knowledge. A wonderful example of this is Albert Einstein. As a teenager, young Albert asked himself. “What would it be like to ride a beam of light?” The answer came many years later with his profound theory of relativity, an explosive answer to a very simple question.
Subliminal learning is in much the same situation. By beginning with the simple question, “how do we tap the unlimited power of our own potential?” a tremendous amount of knowledge resulted. Subliminal communication is as old a mankind and very important for our survival. Musicians have always been aware, at least intuitively, of the effects of subliminal stimuli. A military band is an excellent example of subliminal communication. History tells us that Napoleon said he “would leave two legions behind and take a good drummer boy into battle”.
Although the advertising industry has been credited with the first use of subliminal communication in practical applications it was not until 1958 that Brooks described an experiment by James Vicary where words were flashed onto a movie screen at speeds too fast to register consciously. In a six-week test of the technique during the summer of 1957, viewers at a Fort Lee, New Jersey, theatre watching Kim Novak in the film, Picnic, were subjected to the messages eat popcorn and drink Coca-Cola. The test proved a dramatic success and intermission sales of Coca-Cola and popcorn increased by 18% and 55% respectively. It is, however, important to note the follow-up surveys which showed that not everyone in the theatre bought these products. People who did not eat popcorn or drink Coca-Cola were not influenced to do so.
The use of subliminal techniques in advertising has been well documented by Wilson Bryan Key (1972). He has written several books and completed a doctoral dissertation on the subject. Common use of subliminal images are found in ice cubes of whiskey advertisements. The word “sex” is imbedded in Lincoln’s beard on the five dollar note (see Key, 1980 p160-161). (Perhaps this was the explanation Bill Clinton is looking for to support his lapsed moments??).
Because subliminal advertising gives an unfair advantage, Federal agencies in the USA have established rules for public broadcasting and there is a United Nations agreement stating that air recording and transmitting cannot use subliminal suggestion techniques. However, while this is relatively simple to monitor with the written and spoken word, it would be impossible to control the use of music, colour or odour etc. Many restaurants, and in particular Chinese restaurants, use a great amount of red in their decor and red is well known as the colour to stimulate the appetite. The fragrance counter is usually the first counter you come to when you enter a department store and, as we all know, fragrance carries wonderful subliminal messages.
A NEW DIMENSION IN LEARNING.
Subconscious learning takes advantage of a natural ability for learning. There are more than 800 published scientific studies that have unequivocally demonstrated the validity of our ability to perceive information through the use of subliminal stimulation and subliminal techniques are used in a variety of professions; musicians, film producers, therapists, athletes and advertisers are all benefiting from its use. Top athletes know that defeating the opponent within means moving the psychological barriers. They know they can be told, over and over again, how good they are, but until they accept the thought and create a new frame of reference of winning images, that fact will never influence their performance. Subconscious learning works best in conjunction with our conscious commitment and requires our personal participation, patience and persistence. We need to stay focused on our desired goal. Once our subconscious has had sufficient exposure to the new information we will experience subtle changes in our behaviour.
I have many favourite stories and I will share two with you. Both stories happened at the Head Office of Midwest Research of Michigan, Inc. This company has been researching and developing audio subliminal programmes for more than twenty years and their reputation is held in very high regard world-wide. As well as a very impressive inventory of titles for health, education, personal development, business and financial success, they have created bespoke programmes for some of the most famous names in sport, some are now in the Hall of Fame, some have set world records, and some have played in the major game of the year for their respective sport.
My first story involved a customer who phoned to ask if there was a programme available which would help her parrot to learn to speak. Yes, she was very serious as she had owned this parrot for a number of years and had never a word from him. Well, Lynn Stitz, the company President was consulted and left to explain that this was not an area into which he had researched and no programme had been specifically designed to help a parrot to speak. The owner subsequently ordered some programmes for herself, amongst which was the one Stop Procrastination. Exactly two weeks later the customer phoned again to ask how she could stop her parrot from saying, get it done -- do it now. Now, Midwest Research know from their records that this programme is their No.1 best seller throughout the world and the instruction - get it done -- do it now - is repeated many thousands of times during an hour’s playing of the cassette. We do not know what became of the parrot, perhaps he was the inspiration for the delightful film PAULI - it’s a lovely thought!
Following the experience of the parrot Lynn Stitz’s thoughts turned to a racehorse he owned. Mainframe was his name and he was a rogue horse and they did not come any meaner or nastier than this one. He was the most unpopular horse in the stables with his biting and kicking. Mainframe had a very serious attitudinal problem. He was unreliable and unpredictable but one thing Lynn began to notice was that when he was first out of the starting gate he would lead all the way home but when he wasn’t first out there was no circumstances in which he would pass another horse. He just wouldn’t make a move. Lyn decided to script a programme for Mainframe. Lucy Stitz recorded the instructions which included -- pass the horses -- make a move.
The programme was played on a small auto-reverse player every day in the stall and Mainframe would always stand with his head next to the player. At this time Mainframe’s best time was 2min.1/5th sec. One year later his best time was 1min.562sec. It was a joy to watch him change from a rogue horse to one of the best in Michigan. It was also a joy for his owners to receive US$150.000.00 in prize money during that year. In the stall next to Mainframe was the horse, Sam’s Knight, who had never won a race. Within a short time Sam’s Knight won four races in a row. His owners sold him and so he was moved to other stables. I trust he took his winning attitude with him because do you think the owners would have believed that they could train their horse to win by communicating with its subconscious?
Professor Paul G Swingle PhD, lecturer on Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and University of Ottawa is a highly published author whose book, Subliminal Treatment Procedures, is essential reading for both researchers and clinicians. It is inspiring, critical and a significant contribution to the advancement of psychological thinking and clinical practice. His approach to his ten years of experience and diligent research is thorough and careful. It is a courageous work which provides benchmark data and procedures for future scientific and clinical work. It is courageous because it flies in the face of the prevailing belief in the academic psychology community that subliminal techniques have no effect on behaviour or attitude. Dr Swingle’s work counteracts the shallow, irrational and often misinformed allegations made about subliminal learning and the ignorance displayed about subliminal technology. He rightly restores the place of subliminal learning to the forefront of current psychological thinking.
Herbert Spencer sums it up well in his statement: “There is a principle which is proof against all information, which is proof against all arguments, which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance; that principle is contempt prior to investigation.
Whether we agree with its use or not, subliminal communication is part of everyday life. The technology exists to provide subconscious learning to reinforce conventional instruction. By adding these techniques to the educational and training environment, learning can be accelerated. While teaching content on the surpa-liminal level, study habits, attitudes and enjoyment can be taught on the subconscious level. Appropriate and sensitive use of carefully selected and adequately presented subliminal stimuli will enhance instruction, improve memory and reinforce healthy motivational tendencies.
Subliminal technology is feasible, practical and readily implementable. It is time to explore the beneficial uses and from the results gathered in experimental projects it seems logical that these techniques can be used to obtain an educational advantage. Several colleges and universities and school systems have approved the use of subliminal programmes. More extensive is the use by students who receive them from their parents. It is estimated that well over a million school and college students in the US are now using programmes designed to improve attitudes and enhance school and athletic performance. Unlike hypnosis, subliminal techniques do not depend on a trance state, deep meditation or professional intervention. The most practical method is via audio cassette tapes or CDs which can be played in a car, office, home or Walkman type systems. They are efficient, unobtrusive, powerful and operate while one is engaged in regular work, study and leisure activities.
If we believe that our ability to think is our most powerful asset then surely, as night follows day, our second most powerful asset is our ability to choose. We live in a world of Quantum change and these changes require us, moment by moment, to use our most powerful assets, thought and choice. With the focus on learning and responsibility for self-management, a good tool-kit of realistic life skills is a wise investment. The more diverse our capabilities the better prepared we will be to move quickly and surely, as old opportunities fade and new ones arise.
Dr. Diana J. Hodgson M.D.(M.A.)
Centre of Advanced Learning
16th December 2012.