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The Ottawa County Project This research was done to measure the effect of the Silva Method as a rehabilitation tool in social work. Ottawa County Department of Social Service Psychology Department of Hope College, Holland, MI, 1974 Larry Hildore Dr. James Motiff David A. Wallace
"The Ottawa County Project" is the name given to the first organized attempt to use Silva Mind Control as a rehabilitation tool in social work. It was initiated by Larry Hildore, director of the Ottawa County Department of Social Service in Michigan. The course-work was conducted by Curt Butters, Licensed Instructor in the West Michigan area, and the results were tested and evaluated by Dr. James Motiff of the psychology department of Hope College in Holland, Michigan. As one of the 20 or so graduates who volunteered to help with the project, I was deeply impressed with its impact on all concerned, and it is with the support and cooperation of Larry, Curt and Jim that I have assembled this report. To put the project into perspective, you should know something about Larry Hildore and his approach to welfare work. When you first meet Larry, he offers his left hand in greeting, because his right was shattered by shellfire in World War II. This physical inconvenience would normally not be worth reporting, except that in Larry s case it makes you aware, right from the beginning, that this man is different, and the difference goes far deeper than the handshake. Larry is a man who believes in trying the untried, shirking convention when necessary at the risk of incurring the controversy all creative men share when their thinking is far ahead of their time. With a budget that has its limitations, he has become expert at inspiring friends from the business and professional worlds to volunteer their help on his projects. And, given the incredible ground rules that his personal income is based upon, the number of "clients" on his welfare rolls, he thus wades into his innovative improvement programs with the grim knowledge that the ultimate reward for his success will be a shrunken paycheck. As wearing as this sort of swimming against the tide must be, it must also be a source of pride for Larry. A few years ago, he developed a Social Work Assistant Technician, or SWAT program. It provides a way for people in welfare to earn a wage by working within the administration of the department, itself. This not only teaches useful skills, it serves to staff the department with people who understand and identify with the problems. Best of all, develops self-confidence, and thus becomes a self- reinforcing self-help program. It is easy to understand how a man with this approach to his job would identify with the positive appeal of the Silva Method. After taking the course, Larry was even more convinced of its potential for helping people help themselves. His only problem was how to fit something this off-beat into a rather conventional welfare program, particularly at the going cost of $150.00 per student. His solutions began to materialize when Larry chanced to meet Dr. Jim Motiff who was, by an interesting coincidence, also a Silva Method graduate. Together they worked out the concept of working the project as a controlled test in order to justify its happening. Jim volunteered his time and his expertise, thus leaving only the cost of the coursework as a mayor obstacle. This was quickly overcome by Curt Butters who received prompt and enthusiastic backing from Laredo in the form of scholarships for all 41 participants. Thus armed and encouraged, Larry, Curt and Jim set out with a handful of enthusiastic graduates to conduct the most unusual approach to helping people in the history of welfare. It was Larry s reasoning, after enjoying the Silva Method  experience for himself, that this ADC mothers, of all the people in the world, could benefit most from learning control over stress and negative programming. He observed that it is a traditional pattern for people in welfare to develop a negative self-image. They are hypersensitive to negative public reaction to their low status. They tend to be lonely, fearful and often resentful. This sort of self-depreciation makes it more difficult for them to attract and hold jobs, and any failure here continues to reinforce the negative self-image until it becomes a continually  and ever-tightening downward spiral of despair. Jim Motiff s job would be to measure the degree to which exposure to the coursework could help these people break that vicious cycle and improve their self-image to the point where they had the confidence to develop better relationships with those around them. At no point was there any suggestion that the Silva training would lead directly to employment, but there was always the underlying faith that if you give people a healthier self-image and a degree of inner control, they will somehow manage to improve their lot in society. It was an interesting theory worth pursuing. A classroom at nearby Grand Valley State College was selected as the ideal teaching environment, since it was easily accessible from all parts of the county, and emotionally neutral ground for the participating mothers. The standard 101 through 404 coursework was divided over two full weekends in order to simplify the re-adjustment of home routines. To provide a measuring point of reference, Dr. Motiff opened the first session by giving the volunteers the imposing, six page Tennessee Self Concept Test. It is a standard test that measures the participant s self-evaluation in 5 areas: Physical Self, Moral-Ethical Self, Personal Self, Family Self and Social Self. The questions offer plenty of opportunity for complete analyses; with a choice of five responses to each of the hundred questions-that include: "I have a healthy body," "I am a bad person”, "I am full of aches and pains," "I am popular" and "I get angry sometimes." After the course, they would take the same test, again, and the differences, if any, would suggest the degree to which the Silva Method had changed their self- image. Jim also gave the same test twice to a control group of volunteers to allow for the influence of the "Hawthorne Effect." This is a trade expression for the fact that any activity that focuses attention on a group will tend to create some change in the outlook of that group. Thus Jim could compare the effects of just plain testing against the effects of testing after the Silva Method. The final test results would have to wait for the course to be conducted, however, and it was there in the classroom that the first tangible results began to appear. There had been some early concern as to how receptive an ADC mother in the depths of her misery would react to a sudden input of Mind Control with it s optimistic, "Better and Better" philosophy. That concern was quickly washed away at the beginning of 303 on the second weekend. 100 percent of those originally enrolled, returned to finish the course, and the original shy silence had been replaced by the buzz of animated conversation that threatened to turn the session into a full scale revival meeting. Almost everyone had something constructive to report ... a new  closeness to their children ... a chronic headache gone ... decreased frustration ... lost weight. One radiant young mother used the Mirror of the Mind technique to find the answers to employment and saw only a hand writing a check. The next day she got just the job she d always wanted. As smiles replaced somber faces, Larry had good reason to believe that he was onto something really worthwhile. Jim s test results would soon confirm this. So would the Silva Mind Control caseworking. Curt Butters, in spite of his experience with over 700 students, confessed that this was an overwhelming experience for him. The Silva Mind Control caseworking of health cases was the most accurate he had ever seen. At first, it didn’t seem to make sense for the participants of an experimental no-charge program to react more positively than those who normally are motivated to the extent of paying the full retail price for the course. However, Curt credits the difference to desire and the need to succeed. "We know that our success is directly related to Desire and Expectancy," he stated. The second "Tennessee Self Concept Test" was given right after the graduation energy circle ceremony. Although the resulting numbers (figure A) may not mean much to the layman, Jim Motiff called it, "The most significant data I’ve ever seen." The control group showed virtually no change in attitude, while the Silva Method Graduate Group showed dramatic improvement in every category. In addition to self concept, Jim tested the group with health-related questions on tension, sleeplessness, headaches and dreams. The data revealed that the participants showed marked improvement in every category except "Remembrance and Insight From Dreams." Jim and Curt analyzed this apparent contradiction as a normal reaction of someone learning to move from an unconscious acceptance of dreams to a conscious understanding of them. They theorize that in a still later test now being scheduled, the area of dreams should also show improvement. The final measurement came from Dr. Motiff s analysis of general comments: The most frequently expressed response is thankfulness for the Silva Method experience. The second most expressed feeling is that of wanting to help OTHERS. This phenomenon was particularly interesting to the researchers since it came from a population whose needs in many areas have not been met. With all their own problems they would seem to have every right to be selfish and wish all the help they could get for themselves. Yet one of the strongest reactions to come from the course was a desire to help others. This finding alone should give us all pause for reflections. Where the success of this project leads is still not certain. It was unique not only because it was first, but because it was conducted on a minimal budget thanks to the volunteer work and the scholarships. Normally a project of this nature is approved at State Headquarters and while we may accept "Mind Control" as a proud and accurate course title, it is presently being dubbed "Attitudinal Modification," in Larry s next project, to match the nomenclature commonly employed in research proposals. His next project is a Silva Method Course for socially unemployable people to be funded through his department. It seems that in his creative and determined way, Larry Hildore is doing his share to make this planet a better world to live in. Ottawa County Project Tennessee Self-Concept Scale Analysis Experimental Group  N=41 Control Group N=29