From the unedited manuscript of Dispelling the Myth
Conscious vs. Subconscious Mind and the 10% Myth
Yet another unscientific bit information about our fantastic brain organ, which is held as true by many well educated and intelligent people is the 10% Myth. It is maintained by the majority of the current population of the world that the human brain is 90% inactive. We cannot tell with accuracy where or when this tale originated; however, it could conceivably be the result of a misunderstood Freudian notion that the mind is mostly unconscious. Other influential characters like Albert Einstein have been credited with this conceptualization; however, there is no proof of his link to the actual utterance. Another theory regarding the origin of this myth is the ever increasing volumes of self-help and self-improvement literature that it has helped to peddle and push since as early as the 1930s. Then again, if the proponents of the 10% theory are referring to Mind, there might be some value in the observation, as we definitely have much more potential than what is currently known. However, potential is so immeasurable a thing that it is misleading to throw percentages around it.
One line of evidence against this popularly held trivia is brain imaging research, which employs imaging technology like the FMRI Tubes we talked about before and which has grown exponentially in the last couple of decades. Such techniques allow blood flow to be measured in certain brain regions during the performance of cognitive tasks. While debate continues about the degree to which it is sensible to infer much about functional localization from imaging studies, one thing they make abundantly clear is that there are no areas of the brain that are “black holes” or areas that never “light up” in response to some task or other.
In terms of the popularly believed segmentation of the brain or the mind into two halves that control different functions; it can be considered accurate, only, insofar as different levels of awareness are concerned (and not to be confused with hemispheric or” lobe” divisions of the physical brain) . Certain bodily or even mental functions happen without conscious effort. Organ functions such as heart beat, or breathing (to an extent), demand no effort of concentration from the individual. Similarly, a number of behaviours will demand less effort after prolonged practice, and eventually become what is generally called “second nature” and the competence the individual performing them will develop will make the mechanism required for their performance more accessible. It is incorrect to believe that different parts of the mind handle these different levels of awareness – even perception which is fully handled by the Cerebral Cortex, and more specifically glial cells, can take place without “conscious” awareness, and registered in the same part of the Cortex. In short and with much more to say on this subject in order to properly demonstrate my point, I submit to you that the idea of a conscious and unconscious mind simply implies a duality that doesn’t exist. For the benefit of the purpose of this lecture and all other endeavours of influence, we must look at the conscious and unconscious, solely in terms of awareness; or in the event of direct facilitation of these changes of emotional and psychological states, perception, which can (as mentioned before) take place with or without awareness.
Though many of the psychotherapeutic principles adopted by medicine hold true; the generally held belief, especially amongst and because of proponents of pseudo-science is that hypnosis or as it’s commonly known is the so called “esoteric” circles –hypnotism, can be used to achieve almost supernatural results. In my experience and as a result of private and scholarly research in which I’ve partaken; the techniques of psychological influence are limited to context and the meaning it brings to the subject’s experience. (In this case the subject is the person who is being hypnotised). Furthermore, the process of influence is regulated by people’s innate need to succeed, and to comply with familiar and social expectations. Take for example stage hypnosis shows: The success of these stage productions is heavily dependent on the setting and context the group sets for itself. Having been selected, subjects must agree to participate in the comedy and the drama that needs to ensue to provide the rest of the audience with a good show; failure to do this would imply failure of the individual, themselves. Think now of a patient undergoing dental surgery (hypnosis is a popular way of pain management in dentistry and other minor medical procedures); what more incentive does he need to obey with the hypnotist suggestions, than the cessation of pain? In essence, the surgery itself and the anticipation of great discomfort set the perfect context for the instigation of compliance.
Many practitioners of hypnosis claim to be able to cure disease or to correct physical problems by changing the way the subject thinks about them. Whilst our attitude towards any given circumstance can and will affect its outcome, it is not possible to correct cellular damage, or organ failure by simply talking about it. Like some psychics and mediums, the least ingenuous of this group assert that they can guide the regression of a subject’s mind to a distance of past lives, and describe these P.L.E’s with great accuracy. Experimentally, I have attended several, past-live regression sessions with psychics and hypnotist. In all of them, and to my delight, I have been informed of my past adventures as a very important member of parliament/royalty – usually somewhere in China or other parts of Asia, mostly due (I think) to the shape of my eyes. It’s hard to imagine that anyone can look upon my mug and not recognize my ethnicity – chimpanzee or some sort of monkey.
There are even inherent dangers in using hypnosis to help a subject remember past events, as the hypnotist can inadvertently (or willingly) plant suggestions of possible memories in the subject’s experience.
Pseudo-scientific epistemologies such as NLP or Neuro-linguistic Programing claim to have mastered the subjective experience and to have developed techniques to control it. Developed in the 1970s NLP was intended as a pragmatic way of looking at the psychology of behaviour. Its creators Richard Bandler and John Grinder postulated that there is a direct connection between the patterns of speech, cognition, and consequently the behaviour a person exhibits. Bandler and Grinder theorized and maintained that changes to behavioural processes could be made by properly structured “talk” or communication. NLP has been under heavy scrutiny and skepticism from the scientific community due to its appeal to New-age groups who have adopted its principles and fused them with other spiritual components. Though NLP’s claims of curing physical maladies through talk therapy don’t seem to merit much credence from a critical point of view, the idea of a correlation between cognitive processes, behaviour, and linguistics is valid and has been the subject of extensive scientific work. The disciplines of cognitive Linguistics and psychology are the principal handlers of this work and have thus far offered systematic understanding of cognitive/linguistic connections to behaviour sets and patterns.
The last few decades have seen the introduction of several dangerous fallacies into our social constructs: Thin is sexy, College is better than university, and Deepak Chopra’s quantum mechanics, amongst many more. Of all the more obscure meme-complexes that have arisen in the last 20 years, none has affected our social climate as negatively as the latter – thin can be sexy if it’s healthy, and a college education has provided great success for many people but a charlatan Like Chopra has used scientific principles to misguide and confuse people into buying his very expensive and bogus, self-help, spiritual garbage. He is toxic and in my opinion an offense to logic and reason. Unfortunately for the less critical of us, charlatans like this one are abundant and many have amassed fortunes by charging lonely, horny males obscene amounts of money in exchange for incredible seductive powers. A subculture of self-proclaimed seduction masters who are referred to as P.U.A’s or Pick-Up Artists, has spawned hundreds of books and thousands of web sites promising the skills of Don Juan or Casanova. I’ve often been asked if it’s possible to use psychology to seduce beautiful women, and more often than not I’ve answered with a very confident yes – and mostly because it is possible. The issue with these P.U.A’s is that they claimed to have developed formulas that work with all women all the times. Many will try to convince their potential clients that their appearance is not important or that a man can forego his hygiene duties and still score with supermodels simply by saying the right thing at the right time. This is what in the industry, we call Bullshit. Psychology and knowledge of human behaviour can be used for seduction; after all, seduction is a form of influence, and not only in reference to sexual interest. And I’ve often told my students to look at it the same way. There are no hidden formulas, and no scripts. Live is not scripted. The context of every encounter and the meaning this context will give to those you are trying to influence and or seduce, will directly affect your outcome.
One of my favorite stories to share with my groups is the one about a young man I met while at an international Kick-boxing championship in New York. I’d been invited to this even by a friend Xavier DE Guzman who at the time was National Muay Thai champion and top intercontinental competitor. Rob, the young man the story is about, was a successful accountant in Montreal. Rob was good-looking, smart, very polite and over-all a very nice guy. He was also driving a new BMW M3. There was one flaw with Rob, and that is that he was not good with women. Xavier had spoken with Rob about my research with psychology and communication and in so doing, provided a great topic of conversation. He claimed to have tried many of these techniques and read many more of these books, but to no avail. He asked for help and I accepted. Rob and I spent only a couple of days in each other’s company, as we both had to return to our respective homes. In these days with Rob I focused on showing him how to read signs of attraction and in turn how he could indicate attractions to his “targets”. We talked about context and how it is important to understand the setting of our interactions before we can presume to manipulate anyone’s psychological state. It worked, Rob called me and reported an increased success rate he would have never had, had he not spent time talking to me. I am very pleased about having helped Rob, but I maintain the I came out on top as I provided this education in exchange for my bar tab – I can drink much when I choose to.
There are many more myths about the psychology of control. Many of the tales that have been made up in its regard are silly and at times denigrate its more valid principles. In a way, we can look at these fallacies themselves as a means to influence people into specific states from which the influencer can profit. They achieve this by making an offer of something that (some) people may desire. People want to believe that they can be cured without medical intervention; it makes people happy to believe that their previous lives were fairy tales, and not full of suffering and torture – who would go to these sessions running the risk of being told that they are John Wayne Gacy’s reincarnation? And these horny, lonely males want to think that there is an easy way to get beautiful, desirable women into their beds, or futons, depending on their accommodations. Such seems to be the real power of the psychology of influence and control: life and its daily struggles cause tension in the mind and we are all desperately wishing for catharsis, and those who know how to provide this catharsis and release the tension, have control.
Peyton Dracco – Dispelling the Myth.