Is Someone Doing Devious Things With Your Mind?--by Robert McGarvey


Car salesman Jeff Johnson is enjoying a lazy night at home, drinking a few beers and half-watching music videos on television. The sounds are loud, the colors, intense. The four millionth viewing of Madonna's video numbs him into semi-consciousness. Not even the booming bass beat of the latest rap hit can lift him out of it. More music videos go buy. Pretty soon, out of left field, Jeff catches himself thinking that the President's a sharp guy, definitely shafted by the press. "Yep, he is definitely okay. Fuck the media." Jeff Johnson has just been brainwashed, and it has happened so undetectably that there is absolutely nothing he could have done to prevent it.

Sure, that's fiction -- but the facts are real. Using the powerful sensory inputs available to TV, radio, films and the rest of the mass media, mind manipulators in New York's advertising agencies, Hollywood's movie and TV industries and Washington's political power structure are at this very moment shaping what you think about the key issues of the day, from abortion to elections.

"Today," say journalists Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, authors of Snapping, "American business and advertising have at their disposal the latest and most comprehensive body of knowledge concerning the manner in which human behavior can be manipulated."

"You cannot pick up a newspaper, magazine or pamphlet, hear radio or view televison anywhere in North America without being assaulted." adds researcher Dr. Wilson Bryan Key.

"I shudder to think about the propaganda and commercial manipulation that we are exposed to on a daily basis," says hypnotherapist Dick Sutphen.

There are numerous documented cases of covert mind manipulation techniques used to control behavior:

In 1956 a New Jersey market researcher imbedded movies with hidden visual commands to buy Coca Cola. Movie watchers were absolutely unaware that these consciously imperceptible orders were attacking them, but the proof was at the cash register: Coke sales jumped 58% at that theater.

At a Kansas City medical center, hidden audio messages are constantly piped through the sound system. And there have been dramatic results -- smoking in the staff lounge is down 50%; angry patient outbursts in the crowded patient waiting room are down 60%.

Retailers around the country are experimenting with "no shoplifting" audio tapes that endlessly repeat -- on a subconscious level, beneath the Muzak -- directives not to steal. One New Orleans supermarket reported that "Inventory shrinkage" (Theft) fell two-thirds, from $50,000 yearly to just $13,000.

As long ago as 1972, In-Flight Motion Pictures, Inc. started selling advertisers the right to imbed totally hidden advertising in movies screened on airplanes.

Major advertisers are continually subjecting you to disguised commands to buy THEIR beer, THEIR shampoo. You are hit with an avalanche of hidden audio and video messages every time you turn on your TV.

Waiting around the corner are truly mind-boggling technologies of light and sound. Among them is a bizarre subconscious attack on the kidneys, liver and bladder developed by Mid-West Research for use by law enforcement personnel. The technology is designed to incapacitate hostage-holding terrorists. Using pink noise masking-the sound of air conditioning-this system was tested on unsuspecting cadets in a police academy. According to on researcher, "the result of the test was that nearly the entire class of cadets had become dehydrated."

Don't believe it? join the club. In one survey of influential business and civic leaders, 90% said they were sure there were laws against covert mind manipulation. What's more, 60% added that that stuff was a lot of hooey anyway.

As for hidden mind manipulation being hooey, that is exactly what big advertisers, major media, politicians, religious leaders and the U.S. government want you to believe. The more you believe that, the longer and more successfully the can secretly influence your purchasing and political decisions. "We hear very little about the subject these days," leading brain researcher Dr. Barbara Brown admits. But that is not because there is nothing to talk about. On the contrary: There is too much. "One always suspects government intervention when techniques to abuse mankind are suddenly banished from discussion. In any event, for some 20 years now there has been a steadfast denial of this extraordinary phenomenon by the experts."

You may think you know what you know -- but thinking so may be dangerous to your mental health. As Dick Sutphen says, "In the entire history of man, no one has ever been brainwashed and realized or believed that he had been brainwashed." That's the terrifying part of brainwashing: Once it has happened to you, you will never know it.

"It is very difficult to pass laws against this," says Dr. Patrick Flanagan, a Tucson, Arizona, inventor of sophisticated mind manipulation machinery. "There are so many ways around it." What's more, much mind-control technology is abstract, putting it absolutely out of reach of any legislation or regulation. Used this way, the technologies aim to numb the unsuspecting -- perhaps including you -- into accepting the otherwise unacceptable. fundamentalist preachers, for instance, commonly saturate their revival halls with a barely perceptible six-to-seven cycles per second sound, which can be hidden under the noise of air conditioning or even the hum from loudspeakers. That vibration -- harmless as it seems -- is incredibly effective in putting much of any audience into an immediate open-eye trance state. Because their eyes are open, the audience believes they are fully functioning, wide awake individuals.


Effective as that technique is, there are scarier tools available to mind manipulators. Particularly chilling research is reported by Dr. Barbara Brown, who says that things as simple as the sounds of heartbeats can radically alter our reactions to pictures and ideas. In one experiment cited by Brown, scientists tricked subjects into believing they were hearing their own heartbeats while viewing photographs. They weren't. The heartbeats were prerecorded, yet as subjects heard faster heartbeats they automatically gave high ratings to the observed photos. Lower heart rates yielded poorer ratings. Theoretical as that research is, the impact is very powerful. Increase the rate of fake heartbeat sounds, and audience excitement will bolt upwards. Lower it, and audience enthusiasm drops. It is as elementary as that. The dimension this adds to political messages, advertising, and so on, is alarming. "This begins to have frightening implications," admits Brown. "It seems quite possible that certain types of propaganda or techniques of persuasion will take advantage of this."

Commonly employed not only in revivalist/fundamentalist gatherings but in many public meetings and throughout the media, the six-to-seven cycle vibrations as well as the fake heartbeat can be used to hide specific information or commands. In fact, subliminal information -- "subliminations" as it's called by professionals -- is a primary weapon in the electronic battle for your brain and your free will. Every minute of every day, your mind is swamped with smells, tastes, sights and sounds. You consciously process the data you are aware of, but you are unaware of much more. These data sneak through a maze of trap doors into your subconscious. Very high- and low- pitched sounds register on your subconscious but make no conscious impression. Fast moving and dimly lit images and pictures do the same. And here is the freaky part: While there may be no conscious recollection of these data, the information is permanently stored in your mind. Researchers, including Canadian neurosurgeon Dr. Wilder Penfield, have established that the subconscious and unconscious memory are vast storehouses, holding countless facts unavailable to the conscious mind.

The unnerving discovery is that this unconsciously perceived information definitely influences behavior. "Many researchers have recorded brain waves or heartbeats or skin electrical activity, then presented words with emotional meaning, such as SEX, CANCER, MOTHER, and SNAKE mixed in with words that rarely arouse the emotions, such as BUILDING, CARPET, NECKTIE and the like. When the emotion-producing words are presented subliminally, there are strong changes in the reactions in the physiologic system, but no changes when the other neutral words are given," says Barbara Brown.

More proof of the impact of subliminals comes from one Texas university psychologist who began to salt his lectures with disguised slides showing graphic sex and violence at light levels outside the audience's conscious ability to see. His lectures, which had nothing to do with the slides being projected, were apparently more interesting to the students than in the past, as reflected by test scores. Test results indicated a significant increase in memory!

Chief among the weapons for secretly influencing behavior-including yours-are subliminal commands. As Dick Sutphen explains, "Subliminals are hidden suggestions that only the subconscious perceives. They can be audio, hidden behind music, or visual, flashed on a screen so fast that you don't consciously see them or cleverly incorporated into a picture or design."

Just how much information do you take in at subconscious levels? According to Dr. Key, "Theorists speculate that as little as 1/1000th of a total, single perception registers at the conscious level." And your mind is influenced by these unconsciously perceived messages just as much as it would be by consciously presented information. In fact, the mind is more susceptible because it cannot consciously defend against information it might reject.

Used consciously as a result of free choice, this discovery offers real benefits. A booming industry currently sells subliminal tapes for everything from weight control to achieving financial independence. At the conscious level, these tapes sound like ocean waves or innocuous music. At the subconscious level, however, are messages such as "I am losing weight" and "I am quitting smoking." There is dramatic proof that such tapes work. Many users report major life improvement from doing no more than passively listening to their tapes while sleeping or going about routine chores and job duties. No concentration and no effort were involved. Yet listeners say they have accomplished everything from losing 20 pounds in a month without dieting to stopping smoking painlessly.

Even in this commercial marketplace, however, a gray line is often approached and sometimes crossed. Consider the case of a woman who wanted a slimmer husband. Unbeknownst to her overweight spouse, she played a weight loss tape constantly for a month. He lost 26 pounds. In another instance, one company markets a seduction subliminal in major men's magazines. Play the tape, the advertising suggests, and women will find you irresistible.

There is no questioning the wrongness of advertisement that bury secret commands to win higher sales. Dr. Key has filled three books with documented examples of covert manipulation by advertisers. In one case, Key tested a sample of PLAYBOY readers on their recall of a Christmas magazine ad centered around a wreath. Just two pages in a 260-page magazine, the ad was recalled by a stunning 95%. How can this be? Says Key: "The reader need only ask what kind of flowers were used for the wreath. The first conscious perceptual defense is to see the wreath flowers as nuts-possibly walnuts. A more careful examination reveals they cannot be nuts. This wreath has been cleverly constructed of objects which resemble vaginas and the heads of erect penises." No wonder readers remembered the ad! Some men's magazines, according to Key, also routinely imbed faintly sketched words such as SEX, CUNT and FUCK on centerfolds and cover models. Such words emphatically grab attention -- although viewers have no idea why they are so attracted to particular photographs.

Called imbedding, this technique -- using an airbrush to hide emotionally charged words or images in seemingly harmless ads and photographs -- is extraordinarily widespread. "Imbedded words and picture illusions are part of most advertising throughout North America today," says Key. "These subliminal stimuli, though invisible to conscious perception, are perceived instantly at the unconscious level by virtually everyone who perceives them even for an instant."

Key and his research associates have documented hundreds of cases of such imbeds in major advertisements, including ads run by Crest toothpaste, Vaseline, Johnnie Walker Scotch, Kent cigarettes, Calvert whiskey, Bacardi rum, Sprite, and Seagram's Gin. In every instance, the goal is to use imbeds to arouse viewer attention and increase memory.

Imbeds are merely the tip of a gargantuan iceberg of mind control techniques. Tachistoscopic projection, for instance, involves the high-speed flashing of words or images. Commonly used in movies and TV commercials, this high-speed technique is like the one used in the New Jersey theater to boost Coke sales.

Visual subliminals can also be transmitted with simpler techniques, including the use of dimly lit images, such as the slides of sex and violence.

But perhaps the most powerful subliminals are delivered in sound. THERE IS NO WAY TO KNOW EXACTLY WHEAT YOU ARE HEARING WHEN YOU WATCH TV OR LISTEN TO RADIO. Tales of rock groups using hidden messages are too numerous to recount -- and yes, many groups commonly use subliminals, according to music industry insiders. The fact is, it is incredibly easy to hid messages in music or spoken words. Using modern synthesizer equipment, words can now be psychoacoustically modified to sound like musical instruments -- but the impacts of these words are every bit as strong as they would be if audibly spoken. Words can easily be made to sound like white noise (Ocean waves, for instance) or pink noise (the steady hum of an engine).

sounds without content and simple colors can be mood and mind manipulators when skillfully used by professionals. Much harpsichord and organ music -- often heard in churches -- rapidly propel most of any audience into an altered state of highly receptive and accepting consciousness. And colors, as proven by clothing designers, are directly associated with feelings and emotions.

the potential for abuse of these techniques goes very far indeed. Says Dick Sutphen: "The techniques are still being used today by Christian revivalists, cults, human-potential trainings, some business rallies, and the United States Armed name a few."

Don't think politicians are not using such covert methods. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent annually on political campaigns, and the high-level consultants hired by politicans are well versed in all methods of manipulation. Dr. Key even cites one example of sex imbeds being used by Congressional candidates in Virginia. Another researcher discovered sex imbeds in an official portrait of President Jimmy Carter.

Besides imbeds, politicians are using a full range of techniques to influence voters. Sutphen, a leading hypnotist , reports he has been approached by several political candidates to teach them how to do the characteristic "voice roll" -- a methodical, slow way of speaking used by hypnotists to induce trances in subjects. Properly used, even so simple a technique as the voice roll will dramatically escalate an audience's receptivity to whatever the speaker says -- from "Ban pornography" to "Vote for me!" Sutphen has always declined these jobs, but you can bet less scrupulous hypnotists do not.

As powerful -- and potentially dangerous -- as subliminals, voice rolls, false heartbeats and so on are, there are more menacing tools available to mind controllers, and, as with subliminals, you need not assent or be aware you are being manipulated. According to Dr. Andrija Puharich, at this very moment the Soviet Union is intensively exploring extra-low frequency electromagnetic waves (ELFs) that have the potential to exert enormous influence on human behavior. In one demonstration, Puharich sealed several volunteers wired to electroencephalographs (EEGs) in a metal room. Within a few seconds, one-third of the people in the room were dramatically affected by the ELFs.

Notes Dick Sutphen: "Their behavior followed the anticipated changes at very precise frequencies. Waves below 6 cycles per second caused the subjects to become very emotionally upset and disrupted bodily functions. At 8.2 cycles they felt very high... at 11 to 11.3 cycles induced waves of depressed agitation leading to riotous behavior."

Puharich maintains that ELFs can travel not only through metal but also many miles through the earth. Are the Russians beaming ELFs at the United States today? Nobody knows. At least nobody is saying. But this much is certain: ELFs exist and sooner or later somebody will begin using them to exert still further control on human behavior.

Closer to home, researcher Patrick Flanagan has already demonstrated the power of his "neurophone." Tersely described by Dr. Flanagan as "an electronic way of accessing the brain," the neurophone is a soundless device that taps into the immense sensitivity of skin, which is packed with sensors for heat, light, vibration and so forth. With the neurophone, an audience sees nothing and hears nothing -- but its effects are felt nonetheless. Relates Dick Sutphen: "In one of his recent tests, Pat conducted two identical seminars for a military audience. 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."

Granted, there is a futuristic, science-fiction quality to ELFs and the neurophone, but there is nothing more familiar than the television -- and there just may be no more effective tool of mental manipulation. As noted by Conway and Siegelman: "As important as the content of the information that television puts out and its widespread social repercussions is the manner in which it may affect personality -- not simply an individual's actions and behavior, but the way he or she perceives the world."

Again, this propels us into a murky area of research, but what science knows about brain physiology is that it consists of two hemispheres. The left half is logical and factual; the right half is creative and intuitive.

Unmanipulated, all of us bounce back and forth between right- and left- brain states of consciousness. Some of us are more lopsided in orientation than others. Very little else is known at this point except this: THE RIGHT-BRAIN IS FAR LESS CRITICAL IN ITS ASSESSMENT OF NEW INFORMATION.

And that opens up a giant opportunity for manipulators. If the left-brain can be numbed, the right-brain just may accept whatever is presented.

Guess what? That television in your living room...and the one in your bedroom...and even the tiny one in your car all have the ability to rapidly thrust you into a right-brain stat. That's because TV, while appearing to be a static medium, is actually composted of millions of flickering lights that can easily put a large percentage of the audience into a low-grade hypnotic state. Once in that state, they are far more receptive to suggestions and, possibly, commands. Says Dick Sutphen: "Recent tests by researcher Dr. Herbert Krugman showed that while viewers were watching TV, right-brain activity outnumbered left-brain activity by a ratio of two to one."

A second series of experiments, by psychophysiologist Thomas Mulholland of the Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts, uncovered still more eerie findings.

Mulholland wired TV-watching children to an EEG. Whenever brain-wave activity indicated the kids had entered a low-grade hypnotic trance, the TV automatically shut off. Since the shows were ones the kids wanted to watch, they were motivated to remain fully conscious. They could not. Virtually all the TVs flicked off within 30 seconds, which underlines how powerfully television propels viewers into semiconsciousness.

Still more experiments have been conducted by psychologist Jacob Jacoby, who tested 2,700 viewers on the contents of television shows, such as BARNABY JONES, and commercials they had just finished watching. Jacoby asked very simple questions -- yet, on average, these viewers missed one-fourth to one-third of the answers. "Of course they did," explains Dick Sutphen, "they were going in and out of a trance!" And in trancelike states, we are far more likely to accept and believe information and commands which, if we were fully alert, we would immediately dismiss. "The medium for takeover is here." Sutphen concludes.

Indeed it is. According to USA TODAY research, by age 18 the typical teenager has digested more than 15,000 mind-numbing hours of television -- or, to put it another way, the teenager has spent the virtual equivalent of two entire years sitting in front of the tube.

Don't think advertisers are unaware of the potential of TV to manipulate. "More and more," according to Sutphen, "radio and television commercials are using techniques that tend to alter consciousness to maximize effectiveness... Any time patterned voices, songs, music or visual patterns are used, this potential exists. "Plop..plop..fizz..fizz' is an excellent example."

Sutphen elaborates: "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 have extremely effective brainwashing. Every hour you spend watching the TV set, you become more conditioned."

Adds Dr. Key: "Madison Avenue account executives actually brag about planting subliminals which, they claim, no-one will be able to find. One executive at a major international agency told of burying the words BUY! BUY! continuously behind ten seconds of applause at the end of a 60-second TV commercial." Did the viewers follow instructions? Absolutely! "Tests showed the instructions worked superbly," says Key.

Don't think the entrenched political and religious groups are unaware of this potential. Right-wing money sources have long funded the Christian Broadcasting Network, even vaulting one of its celebrities into Presidential candidate status.

Jerry Falwell and his minions also attempted to seize control of the mammoth CBS television network. There is little need to wonder why. Put a TV network under the control of political or religious extremists, and in short order, the airwaves could be even more saturated with hidden messages and other mind-altering techniques than they currently are. Add in, say, ELF technology in the hands of these extremists and the nightmare increases.

Consider the potential. A show like MIAMI VICE, or any MTV fare, already presents a richly saturated texture of sights and sounds. The spadework for mind control has been accomplished. A few high network officials could easily retain for themselves "final review" of all programming, and in the course of that review all manner of orders could be inserted into a TV program. A mind numbing ELF overlay could be inserted as well. Much of this mind-control arsenal has already been proven to exist and to work in TV commercials. Programming is just a logical extension -- and a massive upping of the mind-control stakes.

What can you do to guard against these present day (and possible future) hidden manipulators? While experts agree on the scope and severity of the problem, there is little consensus about how to win a degree of self-protection. Dick Sutphen speaks for most experts when he says: "I don't know how the misuse of these techniques can be stopped." This battle is critical -- our free will is at stake. Unfortunately , with the exception of turning off our TV sets, there are no easy remedies. That is the one sure step we can take to win back control over our subconscious minds. Beyond that, the experts urge only that we be very, very careful about what we listen to or watch.

Taken from HUSTLER magazine, Nov. 1989 by Robert McGarvey.