Summary of Contents
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 6 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 Technique.” Subliminals. 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.
I’m Dick Sutphen and this tape is a studio-recorded, expanded version of a talk I delivered at the World Congress of Professional Hypnotists Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. Although the tape carries a copyright to protect it from unlawful duplication for sale by other companies, in this case I invite individuals to make copies and give them to friends or anyone in a position to communicate this information.
Although I’ve been interviewed about the subject on many local and regional radio and TV talk shows, large-scale mass communication appears to be blocked, since it could result in suspicion or investigation of the very media presenting it or the sponsors that support the media. Some government agencies do not want this information generally known. Nor do the Born-Again Christian movement, cults, and many human-potential trainings.
Everything I will relate only exposes the surface of the problem. I don’t know how the misuse of these techniques can be stopped. I don’t think it is possible to legislate against that which often cannot be detected; and if those who legislate are using these techniques, there is little hope of affecting laws to govern usage. I do know that the first step to initiate change is to generate interest. In this case, that will probably only result from an underground effort.
In talking about this subject, 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, anytime I use these techniques, I point out that I am using them, and those attending have a choice to participate or not. They also know what the desired result of participation will be.
So, to begin, I want to state the most basic of all facts 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 Conversion
CONVERSION is a “nice” word for BRAINWASHING and 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. The problem was that the new input was negative. He would tell them, “You’re a sinner! You’re destined for hell!”
As a result, one person committed suicide and another attempted suicide. And 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 phase to wipe the brain-slate clean, his subjects are wide open. New input, in the form of suggestion, 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 trainings, some business rallies, and the United States Armed Services, to name just a few.
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 really 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 Three Brain Phases
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. The second is the PARADOXICAL phase, in which the brain responds more actively to weak stimuli than to strong. And the 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 progression through each phase, the degree of conversion becomes more effective and complete. The way 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 judgement 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, programed 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 person’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.
How Revivalist Preachers Work
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 the human heart), is very hypnotic and can generate an eyes-open altered state of consciousness in a very 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 trancebody 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 probably come out. He usually speaks with a pretty good “voice roll.”
Voice Roll Technique
A “voice roll” is a patterned, paced style used by hypnotists when inducing a trance. It is also used by many lawyers, several of whom 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 45 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 very effectively increases the intensity in the room. At this point, hypnosis and conversion tactics are being mixed. And the result is the audience’s attention span 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 state has been achieved, they will usually pass the collection plate or basket. 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 Armegeddon.
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 axe of God,” which everyone had seen hanging above the pulpit the previous week. I have no doubt that everyone saw itthe power of suggestion given to hundreds 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 o n 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 (one of the three brain phases mentioned earlier), 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, which 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 techniques by religions is sophisticated, and professionals are assuring that they become even more effective. A man in Los Angeles is designing, building, and reworking a lot of churches around the country. 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 consciousnessI’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.
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