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Holistic medicine studies the individual in his environment and concentrates on the prevention or cure of illnesses. Health is defined as "a state of physical, mental and spiritual well-being, in harmony with the natural and social environments, and not as the absence of sickness." The "General Adaptation Syndrome" theory, suggests that all life experiences are tension-producing, but the healthy body is capable of adapting to them. Non-adaptation to stress may cause illness, which is believed to attack the weakest part of the organism.Selye asserts that there is not only a relationship between stress and illness, but that a high level of stress accelerates the aging process. These symptoms can be overcome through relaxation, because relaxation constitutes the physiological factor opposite to tension and anxiety.Some methods, such as Transcendental Meditation, Zen Meditation, and Progressive Relaxation, succeed in reducing the general level of stress and anxiety.Other methods, such as Autogenics Training, Systematic Desensitization, and Mind Control, utilize controlled imagination, in the relaxed state, as the principal tension-reducing instrument. Jaffe and Bresler demonstrate that controlled imagination can have therapeutic effects.The Silva Method, which accepts the holistic principles, is a mental method of relaxation and controlled imagination; it provides directed techniques not only for the reduction of stress, but also for the improvement of health and problem-solving.The Silva Method teaches how to consciously utilize the mind to accomplish the proposed goals, with the aid of suitable programming; in Mind Control, to "program" means to direct one s mental energy towards the proposed goal. The specific feature of the Silva Method is to teach the subject to think in a state of relaxation, and while he is in this state, to utilize proper programming techniques to accomplish fixed goals.In techniques such as yoga and transcendental meditation, the subject arrives at a passive state of relaxation, while in mind control he reaches an active state of relaxation.Also, the two methods differ in the practical nature of the techniques and in the possibility of utilizing them to solve specific problems and to develop a strategy for the solution of future problems.The Silva Method is not hypnosis, because the subject is conscious and is completely in control of himself while practicing the techniques; he remains mentally active during the exercise, depending on no external agent.As opposed to biofeedback, Mind Control provides techniques for the solution of specific problems, and it requires no apparatus.Silva asserts that the Mind Control methods are techniques of dynamic meditation, which teach the individual to activate his mind while in a relaxed state, utilizing his inner resources for the solution of problems.Various investigations have demonstrated the influence of the method on personality variables. But until now, no specific investigation has been conducted on the influence of the method on trait anxiety of the individual -- this being the objective of the present study. Anxiety is defined as "the reaction of the individual to a situation perceived as menacing."Anxiety can be provoked by an external stimulus which menaces the ego, or by internal stimuli which provoke sensations of danger in the subject.Based on the work of Cattell and Sheier, Spielberger developed a theory which maintains that anxiety is both a trait and an emotional state.*State anxiety is an unpleasant emotional condition provoked by a fixed stimulus, during which the subject experiences tension, preoccupation, and discomfort.*Trait anxiety refers to the individual s potential to react with state anxiety when faced with a situation which he perceives as menacing.Subjects with a high level of trait anxiety are more sensitive to the perception of menacing stimuli; they experience more intense state anxiety, and with greater frequency.Also, individuals with a high level of trait anxiety tend to react with non-adaptive behavior, such as preoccupation with the situation and with themselves; in certain instances, they are incapable of facing stress in an organized manner.If the Silva Method can reduce the level of trait anxiety of the individual, it will have a positive influence, reinforcing his adaptive behavior. This report will investigate whether Mind Control can reduce, at short- or long-term, the subjects level of trait anxiety. The effects of such variables as sex, age, profession, and practice of the techniques will be taken into consideration.MethodologySubjects: The present investigation entailed the participation of 374 subjects who took the Silva Mind Control course in Israel (115 men and 259 women); ranging in age from 16 to 70 (men: x = 37.76, women: x = 38.15) and with a wide variety of professions.Tools: For adults, the Spielberger Questionnaire (1972) was used: Taichman and Melinak s Hebrew version of the "State-Trait Anxiety Inventory" (1984), which is a self-descriptive questionnaire consisting of 40 items, 20 of which refer to state anxiety and 20 of which refer to trait-anxiety.In the state anxiety questionnaire, the subject is asked to describe how he feels at a particular moment. Emotions characteristic of anxiety (tension, preoccupation, nervousness), and also emotions which are absent in anxiety (relaxation, tranquility, security), are described therein. The subject must indicate his feelings at a given moment, according to the following scale: "hardly ever," "sometimes," "often." "almost always."The trait anxiety questionnaire is more general. The subject is asked to describe himself in relation to the items listed, but this time according to his feelings in general. Data on the validity and reliability of the questionnaire appear in the Hebrew manual (1984). The present investigation used only the trait anxiety questionnaire, with the objective of studying the possible effect of the method on a fixed personality variable such as trait anxiety.In order to prove the influence of technique application, a question concerning the frequency with which they are practiced (one, two, or three times a day: sometimes; no practice) was added to the questionnaire.The subjects were divided into two groups: those who practice (who indicated that they practice at least once a day) and those who do not (who indicated that they do not practice, or who practice on the average of less than once a day). To practice means to perform, during a five- to fifteen-minute period, one to three times a day, a relaxation exercise which utilizes Mind Control techniques studied in the course.Hypotheses1.The level of trait anxiety immediately after the course will be significantly lower than the level of trait anxiety at the beginning of the course.2.The level of trait anxiety six months (average) after the start of the course will be significantly lower than the level of trait anxiety at the beginning of the course.3.Immediately after the course, the level of trait anxiety of those subjects who practice at least once a day, will be significantly lower than the level of trait anxiety of those subjects who do not practice or who practice on the average of less than once a day.4.Six months (average) after the beginning of the course, the level of trait anxiety of those subjects who practice at least once a day, will be significantly lower than the level of trait anxiety of those subjects who do not practice or who practice on the average of less than once a day.ProcedureFirst Stage Pre-testOn the first day of the course, immediately after the first break and before presentation of the techniques, the participants filled out the trait anxiety questionnaire.Participants who were taking the course for the second time, had to specify this on the questionnaire. In some cases, these were used as a third measurement. During this stage, the subjects trait anxiety level at the outset of the course, was measuredSecond Stage Post-testOn the last day of the course, after the last break, the subjects again filled out the questionnaire. During this stage, the subjects trait anxiety level upon completion of the course was measured, and information was obtained concerning the frequency with which they practice the techniques.Third Stage Follow-upThe third measurement was taken at the alumni reunion. After the first break, the questionnaire was again distributed to the subjects. If any participant had filled out the questionnaire more than three times, the latest available data was used for the third measurement. Subjects who did not participate in the reunions received the questionnaire by mail, along with a letter asking them to fill it out and return it as soon as possible. Those who failed to return the questionnaire within a reasonable period of time, were telephoned and asked to do so.Ninety-four questionnaires were thereby received. At this stage, the subjects trait anxiety level was measured after an average of 25 weeks from the beginning of the course, and the information was received regarding the frequency with which the techniques were practiced during this period.ResultsFigure 1: Average level of trait anxiety of Silva Mind Control Method graduates, in the various measuormative trait anxiety (average) for women B. Normative trait anxiety (average) for men Figure 1 shows the changes in the (average) level of trait anxiety produced in Mind Control graduates, in the various measurements taken for both sexes. For the trait anxies was found. For men: x = 43.87, and for women: x = 46.80; t-2.49, p<0.01. (Therefore, it was decided to take the sex of the subject into consideration, and to analyze the results separately for men and for women.)TABLE 1: Average improvement, according to sex, in trait anxiety level of Mind Control graduates in the post-test and follow-up stages.Post-testFollowupThe results shown in Table 1 support the first hypothesis, which asserts that the average level of trait anxiety of subjects of both sexes, immediately after the course, will be significantly lower than their average level of trait anxiety at the beginning of the course. These results also support the second hypothesis which asserts that the average level of trait anxiety an average of six months after the course, will be significantly lower than the trait anxiety level at the beginning of the course. In the variation analysis, no significant difference was found in the trait anxiety improvement of individuals of different professions (F [11,362] = 1.25) in the post-test stage. Also, a significant negative correlation (the younger the individual, the greater the improvement) was found between age and improvement in trait anxiety, for women in the post-test stage (r = -0.23; p<0.0001) and in the follow-up stage (r = -0.25; p<0.001), and for men in the post-test stage The second and fourth hypotheses were confirmed for 69% of the total sample.Figure 2: Average improvement in graduates who practice and who do not practice, in the post-test and follow-up stages, according to sex.PRACTICE: PRACTICE DO NOT PRACTICEA, C: Measurements taken immediately after the course B, D: Measurements taken six months after the start of the course Figure 2 shows the effect of practice on the average improvement in the trait anxiety level of subjects of both sexes, in the post-test and follow-up stages. No significant difference in the pre-test trait anxiety level was observed between subjects who practiced and subjects who did not practice after the course. The results of the variation analysis support the third hypothesis; they demonstrate that there is a significant difference, at the post-test stage, in the improvement of the level of trait anxiety (F[1,303] = 9.85; p<0.01) among those who practice (at least once a day). The data shows that practice has a strong influence on trait anxiety level improvement over a period of time (F = [3,251] = 30.24; p<0.0001). Therefore, the results reinforce the fourth hypotheses (see Note 1). As shown in Figure 1, the average level of trait anxiety of participants in the Mind Control course is significantly higher than the normative level of trait anxiety (p<0.0001; see Hebrew manual, A). In the post-test stage, for both sexes, no significant differences were observed between the trait anxiety level of course graduates and the normative level of trait anxiety, except that the men had a significantly higher trait anxiety level (p<0.0001) than that of the soldiers in the normative sample. In the follow-up stage, the women s trait anxiety level was significantly lower than that of the various normative samples; soldiers (p<0.01); students (p<0.0001); adolescents (p<0.01). The trait anxiety level of the men investigated was not significantly different from that of the normative samples for students and adolescents, but was greater than that of the normative sample for soldiers (p<0.05).DiscussionThe present report investigated the influence of the Silva Method on the subjects trait anxiety level, both upon completion of the course and at long term. The first hypothesis asserted that the trait anxiety level of the subjects, upon completion of the course, will be significantly lower than at the beginning of the course; the second hypothesis asserted that the change will continue with time.The results support both hypotheses.The third hypothesis asserted that upon completion of the course, the trait anxiety level of individuals who practice, will be significantly lower than that of individuals who do not practice; the fourth hypothesis asserted that this difference will continue to exist with the passing of time.Both hypotheses were confirmed.The difference in the degree of improvement in those subjects who practice, as opposed to those who do not practice, was accentuated over a period of time: F(1,303) = 9.98, p<0.01 in the post-test stage, as opposed to F(3,251) = 30.24, p<0.0001 in the follow-up stage.A probable explanation is that every participant practices during the course; and therefore, those subjects cataloged as non-practicing, did practice at least twice a week (during the course), and some of them practiced more, albeit irregularly (on the average of less than once day). This explains why the difference between those subjects who practice and those who do not, upon completion of the course, is significant, but less than the difference between these groups over a period of time.These facts illustrate the importance of daily practice in reducing the level of trait anxiety, although the trait anxiety level of those who did not practice daily, also improved considerably (p<0.0001).Probably the subjects who practice and those who do not, differ not only in the reduction of the trait anxiety level after the course, but also in other personality variables which were not checked in the present investigation.A certain tendency was found towards a sex-related differential effect of practice: men who did not practice, improved less than women who did not practice, both upon completion of the course and also at long term. A possible explanation of this tendency is based on personality differences between the sexes. Some investigators assert that the level of factor A (affectothymia) and Factor i (premsia) in women, is greater than that of men. Therefore, women tend to be more open to people, less critical, and more sensitive. Weitzenhoffer, found that women are more suggestible than men. These characteristics can explain why the influence of the techniques learnt in the course seems to be stronger in women than in men: It is possible that women are more open and perceptive to the course material, and thus the practice during the course, and the irregular practice after finishing the course, sufficed for the women (more than for the men who practiced at the same rate) to reduced the level of trait anxiety.It is important to clarify that no significant differences in trait anxiety was found at the beginning of the course, between those subjects who practiced after the course and those who did not. Therefore, the differences in improvement gained after the course, are not due to the influence of the "Ceiling Effect." Various investigators have demonstrated the relationship between the positive attitude of women and their degree of suggestibility. It is likely that women have a more positive attitude than men towards the course, but this is only a hypothesis which must be proven.Regarding age, it was proven that the younger the subjects, the greater their improvement upon completion of the course. At long term, this correlation is valid for women only.It was found that participants in the Silva Method course, have a higher-than-normative level of trait anxiety; it is therefore possible that this is one of their motives for taking the course. Upon completion of the course, participants were able to reach a normative level of trait anxiety (except for the sample of the soldiers, whose anxiety level is less p<0.0001 - than the anxiety level of the men in the present sample). An average of six months after the beginning of the course, women participants attained a level of trait anxiety significantly lower than normative, while men reached the normative level (except for the soldiers, whose level was considerably lower: p<0.05).As can be observed, the improvement of women is greater than that of men; this could be a consequence of the "Ceiling Effect." The results contradict Spielberger s theory, which asserts that relatively short methods will not reduce the level of trait anxiety, but only the level of state anxiety. The results of the present investigation are supported by other studies, which have shown that graduates of the course improved their self-confidence, self-image, and other personality variables, which might possibly be related to the reduction of the trait anxiety level.There are various possible explanations for the graduates improvement in trait anxiety level, despite the relative brevity of the course (twice a week for five weeks):Ceiling Effect: Those subjects presenting a high level of trait anxiety, have more room for improvement than those whose trait anxiety level is relatively low. (The course provides a more positive attitude towards life experiences, and emphasizes the importance of positive thinking.2.The course provides specific programming techniques which can be utilized by the individual as a means for the solution of daily problems.3.The course is a practical one, and it encompasses practice of all the techniques.4.The pleasant atmosphere during the course, as well as the positive attitude, contribute to relaxation and tranquility. In addition, the results obtained tend to contradict the assertion that only long-term therapycan reduce the level of trait anxiety of the individual. However, they have not yet shown that the improvement attained is due solely to the techniques learned in the course.One of the limitations of this investigation, is that the third measurement was made on those subjects who participated on one of the alumni reunions or who sent the questionnaire by mail. Moreover, because of the lack of a control group, it cannot be shown that the reduction of the level of trait anxiety is due solely to the influence of the course. Stoudenmire was unable to show significant influence of muscular relaxation on the level of trait anxiety of introverts and extroverts. In another investigation, it was found that the level of trait anxiety of individuals is not significantly affected by muscular relaxation and relaxation through music. Therefore, it should not be assumed that the reduction in the trait anxiety level of course graduates is due exclusively to the relaxation techniques learned during the course.
Silva Mind Control and Anxiety LevelAbstract: This research was done to measure the effect of the Silva Method on the trait anxiety level of subjects.Psychology Department, Haifa University, Haifa, Israel, 1984Dr. Moshe AlmagorRafael LibermanThe Silva Mind Control Method consists of a set of techniques and exercises based on relaxation, development of visualization, and training in imagination and intuition. The present report presents an investigation of the influence of this method on the trait anxiety level of the subjects, upon completion of the course and six months after its commencement.The effect obtained through practicing the techniques, while taking into consideration the sex, age, and profession of the subjects, was also studied.The results confirm the hypothesis that the trait anxiety level of the subjects, upon completion of the course and also in the later stage, will be significantly lower than the trait anxiety level at the beginning of the course, practicing the techniques, as well as sex and age of the individuals, influenced their improvement.The present report is a synthesis of the investigation which took place within the framework of the Department of Psychology of Haifa University, Israel, in 1984, under the direction of Dr. Moshe Almagor, who authorized its publication. The author is grateful to Dr. Carlos Peiser (Haifa University) and Tzipora Libman (Tel-Aviv University) for their valuable cooperation. Also, the author would like to thank "Silva Mind Control Israel" and its graduates who participated in the investigation.