The Mind at Work
It may be possible, when more is known about the tape recorders in our brains, that we will be able to evaluate the theory which finds a parallel between the human learning process and the activity of the “thinking machines.”
We could point out that sleep-learning information is fed to the human mind by machine in a reversal of the familiar feeding of data into a machine by a human. In the first instance, the human can select the information to be given. In the latter, the machine dips into its memory bank to furnish information.
The importance of repetition in sleep-study is easily evidenced by the repeated message recordings at present available to the sleep-learner. These high-impact repeating tape cartridges are pre-recorded and can be used for many varied purposes, among them:
- Rapid language learning: increased vocabulary, comprehension, absorb proper intonation, pronunciation … by repeated impact.
- To improve speech: hear yourself as others hear you, record your voice, note errors, record models you wish to imitate, absorb the instructor’s speech pattern … by repeated impact.
In most instances, the cartridge is available to the student with an induction pre-recorded on the tape. The sleep-learner can then record his message on the blank unrecorded section of the tape. By leaving the induction on the tape, the sleep-learner can change his recorded message as he desires.
Positive suggestions are predominant on sleep-tapes:
- Correct weight is a matter of good health. You will develop an instinct to select and eat the foods which will be conducive to good health and correct weight…
- You will succeed.You will overcome this problem…
- You will remember the information recorded on this tape. You want to remember each word, its pronunciation, its meaning…
- You want to develop your vocabulary because you know that it will be of great use to you in business and social contacts…
Statements are constantly affirmative and delivered in a calm, strong, reassuring voice. With the reinforcement, there is the promise of reward.
It should be understood that the subject really believes the message. This positive conditioning is particularly effective in view of the fact that there is so much negative thinking in the constant “no, no” and “don’t” that each child hears in the course of growing up. The impression that everything desirable is forbidden is a common heritage, indeed. And so, the basic idea behind development tapes is the psychology of reward coupled with positive affirmations.
How the affirmations should be stated is a matter which the individual can decide. One school of thought says the subconscious should be directed to take immediate action. Another recommends a gradual, step-by-step approach. Examples of each follow, the first demanding immediate action, the second action by degrees:
- From this moment forth, I shall have an intense dislike for alcohol. The slightest taste of alcohol in any form will make me violently sick. I shall become sick from even the smell of alcohol. Because of this, I shall never taste alcohol again. Before very long, the desire and need for alcohol will disappear completely. I know that I have the power to withstand the temptation to drink . .. AND I WILL NEVER DRINK ALCOHOL AGAIN!
- I am, by degrees, acquiring an extreme dislike for alcohol. Slowly, but very surely, the taste or even the smell of any form of alcohol will nauseate me. Before very long, I will become violently sick at the taste of alcohol and I will lose all desire to ever drink again. By degrees I will accomplish this and … I WILL NEVER TAKE ANOTHER DRINK AS LONG AS I LIVE!
The Mind at Work (Part 2)
The “by degrees” advocates claim that nothing ever occurs instantaneously and that direct approach might possibly create a subconscious conflict. However, the method of command would differ individually as in conscious acceptance of orders.
The subject-matter of sleep tapes is as varied as are the problems that beset human beings. A few examples of the messages which have been used to break bad habits through frequent repetition follow: (“I” may be substituted for “you” but the latter is considered more commanding.)
BREAKING THE SMOKING HABIT
You are slowly, bit by bit, acquiring an intense dislike for smoking. Little by little, the taste of tobacco is getting more disgusting to you. Before long, you will be caused to become violently sick to your stomach upon puffing a cigarette, or indulging in any form of tobacco. By degrees, you will break yourself of the tobacco habit… and will never touch another cigarette!
You are, slowly but surely, sleeping better each night. Each night as you lie down in bed, you will think of deep, restful sleep. You will not awaken until (specify desired awakening time) in the morning. By degrees, you will overcome your sleeplessness and will never be touched with insomnia again. Your entire body will feel alive and refreshed when you awaken, because you have spent the night sleeping peacefully, deep in gentle and relaxing sleep.
You are, by degrees, slowly beginning to stop biting your fingernails. You are slowly overcoming your nervousness and inner tension… you realize that you have been biting your nails because of nervousness and inner tension. By degrees, you are becoming more and more content to stop this vile habit. You have pretty (handsome) hands and you do not want to spoil them by biting your nails. Little by little, you are becoming able to resist the temptation to bite your fingernails… and before very long, you will never bite your nails again.
You are, by degrees, slowly overcoming the cause of your stuttering. Little by little, you are talking more normally . . . with less breaks and pauses in your words, each day your confidence grows stronger. Each day your stuttering grows less. By degrees, day by day, slowly but surely your stuttering is disappearing. Very soon now, you will be able to talk perfectly… slowly… distinctly… without stammering… and you will never stutter again.
(It should be noted here, that one authority on speech disorders stated that sleep-messages are effective in abolishing stuttering only as part of a planned therapeutic program, under the guidance of a therapist, for a specific purpose in the course of the therapy.)
You are, by degrees, acquiring an intense dislike for (name of narcotic: heroin, opium, etc.). Slowly but surely you are losing all desires and need for narcotics. You are, by degrees, without conscious effort or pain, overcoming your craving for (name). Before long, you will no longer desire or need narcotics in any form. They will be repulsive to you. The very thought of (name) will make you physically ill, and you will cause yourself to vomit if you even think about (name).
Your body is getting well and your organs are getting used to the gradual withdrawal of (name). By degrees, you are pushing this great destroyer of your life, out of your mind… out of your body. You are gaining again the love and respect of your family and friends. Very shortly now, all desires, all cravings for (name) will be gone forever and you will be free and very healthy physically and mentally, full of the joy of living… and filled with desire to love and live again.
You are starting to get sleepy, Jimmy. (Use name, repeat 10 times) More and more sleepy (repeat 10 times)… your eyes feel so… so… heavy… you are getting so… so… so sleepy (repeat 5 times). Jimmy, you are going to stop wetting your bed and make mommy and daddy love you better than ever. While you are in bed you can’t let out a single drop of (use exact word that the child uses. Repeat 10 times). Mommy and daddy are so very proud of their big boy for not wetting the bed. We both love you so much. Good night and happy dreams.
The Mind at Work (Part 3)
Discussing the permanence of results, the sleep-therapy advocates say it depends on the individual’s degree of suggestibility and desire to overcome the habit or problem. Once broken, the habit should not return, but in the case of a strong compulsion, the message should be replayed for several nights.
The physiological explanation for the effects of repetition in sleep-therapy which is offered is that any persistently duplicated or long sustained repeats of some specific mental picture will eventually bring about vast electronic or sub-molecular shifts within the body and usually eliminate the roots of the disturbance.
As to the suggestibility of the individual, everyone is suggestible to some degree, and by conscientious practice should be able to develop that suggestibility to a degree. Schrenk-Netzing placed the number of persons susceptible to direct hypnosis at 90%, so the incidence of those susceptible to indirect suggestion should run substantially higher, probably 99%.
Repetition is also used to induce relaxation and receptivity to the material to be learned. The most accepted method is the use of word pictures to suggest a gradual descent into the lower realms of consciousness.
Word pictures vary, but they must always offer a peaceful, gradual descent: using an escalator . . . descending deeper . . . dee . . . per . . . deeper . . . into pleasant sleep and relaxation. Repetition of the words “deep” and “relax” is constant. A progression of movement is used, always going DOWN . . . ree . . . laxed . . . dee . . . per . . . dee . . . per.
The vivid impression necessary in the induction can be the word picture of descending a staircase, step by step; relaxing on a couch or bed as it slowly descends into the realm of sleep and subconscious receptivity.
It is apparent that the sleep-learning approach is, in many ways, consistent with the principles of hypnosis. Stress is laid on the importance of relaxation, on creating a favorable emotional attitude, on the power of suggestion and in the use of monotonous inflections to bring on drowsiness.
We can now investigate sleep-learning in the light of present knowledge and theories about memory.