The Battle for Your Mind:
Religious Brainwashing Techniques
original title was "The Battle for Your Mind: Persuasion and
Brainwashing Techniques". This article covers more than techniques
used by churches and pastors, but for the purposes of this website,
the main focus is on religious indoctrination and brainwashing. I
know many of you have a lot of fear surrounding leaving
Christianity. This article can help you understand how you came to
believe so strongly in a religion that makes little, if any, sense,
and within which a "loving God" supposedly threatens you with an
eternity of hellfire.
Dick Sutphen, for making this freely available to the public. This
is information that needs to be known.
The Battle for
Conversion & Brainwashing Techniques
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
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.
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
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.
The Birth of
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
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
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 3 Brain
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
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
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”.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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 est (Erhard Seminar Training). 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
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
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
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
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
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.
True Believers &
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
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
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
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
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
relate many stories that support subliminal programming, but I’d
rather use my time to make you aware of even more subtle uses of
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
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
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
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.
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 Medium For
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
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
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.
The Tip of the
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?
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition
The Battle for the Mind by William Sargant (Perennial Library 1957)
Snapping by Flo Conway & Jim Siegelman (Delta Books 1978)
The True Believer by Eric Hoffer (Harper & Row 1951)
Mind Wars by Ron McRae (St. Martin’s Press 1984)
How To Organize & Manage Your Own Religion Cult by Duke McCoy (Loompanics
Behavior Modification by Richard Camellion (Paladin Press 1978)
Cults by Charles G. Waugh & Martin H. Greenberg (Beaufort 1983)
Holy Terror by Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman (Delta Books 1982)
All subliminal books by Bryan Key, Ph.D.
Hitler propaganda films produced before World War II