The concept of the subliminal message is now familiar. A subconscious suggestion can help a person bring about positive change, such as smoking cessation, or otherwise influence one's actions. The science behind reaching this suggestive state and how to successfully present a message of change has its own journey.
The current issue of the journal Biofeedback presents the science and research that developed "Twilight Learning" technology in the 1970s. This article, by the late Thomas H. Budzynski, is part of a special section focusing on his pioneering contributions to this field.
Twilight Learning is a process that uses EEG neurofeedback to cultivate a hypersuggestible brain state in a subject. Auditory "change messages" are then given to the individual, allowing "enhanced learning" to take place. This cognitive therapy had many contributions along the way.
One study found that as the individual passed from wakefulness to sleep, brain rhythms changed from an alpha to a theta state, and a loss of volitional control occurred first, followed by a loss of awareness of one's surroundings and then of reality. Another study found that attitude change messages presented to subjects in waking, drowsy, and deep sleep conditions were effective only in the drowsy condition.
These and other contributions helped Budzynski develop a system that could reliably produce this brain state without hypnosis or waiting for someone to fall asleep. An EEG range of 4-7 Hertz was found to indicate the theta, hypersuggestible brain state. Subjects could then be presented with therapeutic messages designed to make changes in maladaptive habits, addictions, and poor self-image.
More than 20 years of case studies have shown how Twilight Learning can be applied. These include a graduate student who experienced so much anxiety over passing an exam necessary for graduation that he found it impossible to study. Twilight Learning sessions helped change his attitude and allowed him to relax, study, and pass the exam. Another patient found relief for psychogenic back pain. Other subjects found that repressed memories of childhood abuse and war were negatively influencing their adult lives and were able to make positive changes through Twilight Learning.
The Peniston Protocol, successfully used for alcoholism and posttraumatic stress disorder, and other new research studies have expanded on Twilight Learning. These projects are providing new evidence of what subliminal stimulation can do and are exploring new areas, such as influencing physical healing.
- Thomas H Budzynski. Twilight Learning Revisited1. Biofeedback, 2011; 39 (4): 155 DOI: 10.5298/1081-5937-39.4.08
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