Year: 1990

Author: Owens, Anthony M.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In his discussion of the historical development of holonomic brain theory Pribram (1986) stated that all "the evidence is coming. Not only at the neuropsychological level, but at the psychophysical and psychological level, the behavioural level and in quantum physics (there) is a real paradigm shift away from Euclidean geometry that allows for crazy things, even like hypnosis to be so (p.73)." To many scientists this may appear to be very "soft science" but Pribram appears to believes that the distinction between soft and hard science is not as relevant any more as he sees many fields to be moving in the same direction and the final proof of brain theory will be "mathematically so precise that...there is just no stopping it." This study fits into the psychological and behavioural levels that Pribram was talking about. When I started this type of research I had a notion that if a person had some control over their own behaviour and they were able to be in command of their state of consciousness and never be out of control, they would be operating at a rhythm which would be optimal for them. It seemed that when teachers and children in the classroom were being antisocial and unloving to each other, continuing to seek revenge in a never ending cycle, they were not only unable to deal effectively with each other, worse than that, perhaps they were not able to really control their own behaviour. By gaining the skill to relax at will and thereby alter the state of consciousness, both students and teachers can to some extent gain more control over their own behaviour. It was the theory that not only would the fact of the control of their own body and behaviour be a positive force but also that the knowledge, derived from consistent results over a period of time, that they had this control would gradually become even more powerful as it affected their self-concept and self- esteem. Theoretically, the effect of their new skill would then permeate and generalize to many related and unrelated areas of behaviour and relationships An important part of the theory was that all negative, violent, and antisocial behaviour took place when a person was "out of rhythm" and behaving in response to the external environment. Sometimes the environment would be arranged to suit them and sometimes it would not. When it did not they would have great potential to be destructive to themselves or others or both; and when perchance it did suit them, they would behave more positively and constructively. If they had the skill to relax and control the state of their own mind, so says the theory, the potential for prosocial behaviour is greatly increased. At least, with this skill and the awareness of the skill, a person is in the position to be able to decide whether or not to behave one way or another. An early practitioner who used hypnosis to cure people, Emile Cou‚ (1923), found that all suggestion, whether used with hypnosis or not, was essentially auto-suggestion. As he increased in confidence and competence, he found that he had considerable effect merely by making suggestions. Stanton (1985) reported the reduction of stress levels compared to controls following relaxation skill development through imagery. In his discussion of the use of the unconscious in the classroom Neville (1989) emphasises the value of relaxation and suggestions for learning and particularly for motivation and guidance in the classroom. Jackson (1989) also emphasises the effect and value of self-hypnosis for these and other purposes of personal development. The current study is looking at the effects of relaxation training with suggestions on children's levels of learning mathematics and reading, self- esteem, locus of control, and physical indicators of excessive stress. The final data are still being collected so this paper will be concerned with a description of the method, some anecdotal accounts of effects which have been related by principals, teachers, and children, and results of some smaller studies. This study is a small pilot study attempting to judge the value of using relaxation as part of the curriculum in Australian schools.