About Compulsive Disorders

Compulsive behavior is defined as the irresistible urge, often against one’s conscious wishes, to do something.  In psychology, the term is often teamed with the word “Obsessive” such as in “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder” (OCD, for short).  People who suffer from this disorder are addicted to uncontrollable and irrational behaviors that disrupt their lives on many levels.

Below, I will discuss the case history of Betty, a 42-year old writer who had a “checking” compulsion. This is a classic example of the disorder but it can result in any similar behavior, like excessively washing one’s hands or cleaning the house.  But don’t confuse this type of behavior with all the anti-flu hand washing advice doctors give out these days.  A compulsive disorder like this goes far beyond that simple advice.

For example, compulsions may include counting things like footsteps or objects in specific ways or doing any number of other repetitive actions, from dozens of times in a row to perhaps hundreds. People might feel compelled to clear their throats, repeatedly check that their doors are  locked, turn lights on and off, open and shut windows or doors repeatedly, touch objects a certain number of times or walk in a certain pattern. 

If you ever watched the TV show “Monk”,  about a dysfunctional detective prone to the disorder, you’ll recognize the vast array of OCD behaviors people may display.

Causes of OCD: Tied to Anxiety:

Some people act compulsively in order to relieve the anxiety stemming from certain obsessive thoughts.  These people may feel that performing these repetitive actions will somehow prevent a horrible event from occurring or that it will force the event from their minds.

Whatever the motive, the sufferer’s reasoning is so distorted that it results in significant distress for the sufferer or to those around them.

The disorder has also been linked to abnormalities with the neurotransmitter serotonin, a chemical substance in the body thought to have a role in regulating anxiety.

Case History: Betty and Her OCD:

Betty was a rather large woman with a wonderful smile and a king size jar of Sanka instant coffee, so she would never run out.  Betty told me that she suffered from a checking compulsion.  She was compelled to check things over and over.  Just before bed, she would check the gas stove 20-30 times to make sure she had turned it off. She checked the front door 10-15 times to make sure she didn’t leave it unlocked. 

She never saw a movie all they way through, because every few minutes she’d feel the urge to check the floor to make sure she hadn’t dropped anything on it.  And that was just her evening routine.  During the day, she checked many other things she did both inside and outside the house.

As you can imagine, this bizarre behavior disrupted her life dramatically, preventing her from doing many other “normal” things and living her life to its fullest.  It also kept her from having friends because she never had the time to develop her social life.  So, what could be the cause of her particular problem?  I found a clue in Betty’s own admission, that she lacked confidence in things.

Resolution Goals – Building Confidence, Staying Calm & Focused:

I could tell from what Betty told me and how she expressed herself that she was more “right brain suggestible”, so I started working with her using about 75% more literal suggestions in a relaxed state, with 25% of the suggestions being more implied. For more on Learning Types and Suggestibility check out my article on ‘Left-Right Brain Learning Process’.

I spent much time working on Betty’s imagination, using different situations where I would describe how she would be getting ready for bed and she only needed to check the stove and door a few times. I wouldn’t tell her not to check things at all but to see herself checking  things fewer times.

When I  talked to her before having her sit in the recliner to relax, I would tell her only once or twice that she would have success with my process, but would also ask her how it was going to feel having this problem behind her.  I had her describe in great detail how it was going to feel, as if she were watching a movie from beginning to end.

With Betty, she didn’t know what started the problem and it turned out that it didn’t really matter.  She resolved the issue in about 6 months time.

Conscious and Subconscious Minds Working Together:

For Betty, along with the subconscious reinforcement, I used what is called Exposure and Ritual Prevention. This technique involves gradually learning to tolerate the anxiety associated with not performing the ritual behavior to prevent it. 

For example, touching something only mildly contaminated if this is the kind of thing that causes you anxiety.  That’s the “exposure”. The “ritual prevention” would be not washing your hands.  Or if the anxiety is caused by the need to check door locks repeatedly, you work toward doing the ritual only once (exposure) without checking over and over again (ritual prevention).

In working this way, a person becomes accustomed to the anxiety-producing situation but notes that the level of anxiety has dropped.  They can then progress toward fewer checks or less washing, as the case may be.

Again, subconscious reinforcement is absolutely necessary to change these kinds of habits.

Words of Wisdom

I often come across what I call words of wisdom, those little jewels that inspire, inform and offer hope to us all. I offer the following ones as a reminder to those who know about them and as a way for others to discover them. They are timeless.

Empty Your Cup:

This phrase illustrates the necessity of cultivating an open mind.  You cannot expect to ever learn new things if you are unwilling to “empty your cup” (mind) of your own opinions and speculations. I even love this following story so much, I put it in my book, “The 231 Club”.

As the story goes, a Japanese Zen master was visited by a university professor who came to learn about Zen. The professor wasn’t really interested in learning about Zen; he was more interested in trying to impress the master with how much he knew. So at one point the master suggests that they have tea. He then poured some into the professor’s cup. And when the cup was full the master simply kept pouring. The professor could no longer restrain himself and asked the master “Why are you continuing to pour tea into a cup that is full?; the cup can’t take in anymore.”

The master then said to the professor “Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

Seize the Moment:

Live in the present. Your focus should be on what you can effectively do today.  If you do that, you will not waste energy.  Dwelling on the past (regrets) or worrying excessively about the future (anxiety) are the two things that dissipate energy.  They are also two things that can result in depression and cause a standstill to your life.

Multiple Options:

When an unfavorable event occurs in your life, react to it without undue emotion or haste.  Realize that in nearly every instance you probably have more alternatives than you think you have. Hold still a moment before acting or reacting and consider the alternatives.

I competed in a shooting competition and after taking my turn at the course, I was walking back to my car where I saw one of my club members throwing a fit, tossing his equipment to the ground amid a long stream of profanities. I asked him what was wrong and he said that he had made a stupid mistake that had cost him many points that he needed desperately for a chance to win his class.

I told him that this would be a good test of how well he does in choosing his options.  Option 1: get angry and learn nothing.  Option 2:  learn from the failure and become a better competitor as a result.  He calmed down and I left him with “being a champion is more than placing at the top of a scoreboard. 

A champion sees failures as stepping stones on the path to success.”  The guy starting doing so well in the following matches he won his class championship.  I guess he was listening.

A Mind Full of Bricks:

Trying to take on too many projects at one time along with thoughts about the bad weather, the traffic jam that caused you to be late to work, thoughts about not making enough money are all piling up in your head and will create an overload. And when you’re overloaded, stress is created and stress leads to anxiety and depression. You’re going to end up with pain in your mind or your body.

Here’s an example of something I teach that helps people understand that they need to take on only as much has a can handle. And by the way, “multitasking”, the idea of doing more than one thing at a time, is a fantasy. You might be doing more than one thing at a time but your brain is quickly switching from one to the other which after a while well create a short circuit/overload.

Imagine that you have a large pile of bricks in your front yard, each weighing 10 pounds,  and you have to move all the bricks to the back yard.  It you try carrying 4, 5 or 10 bricks in one trip you are going to hurt yourself, maybe even causing yourself extreme harm.  But if you carry only one or two bricks at a time you can handle the task without difficulty. 

Well the same thing applies to your mind.  Taking on too much mentally can overload your your mind just like too many bricks can overload your body.

You might be able to handle a large load of bricks for a few trips but eventually something’s going to give and you will definitely feel pain in the body.  Same thing with the mind but the pain will be in the form of anxiety or depression. You must, therefore, learn to pace yourself.

Thoughts From Others:

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt.” – Mark Twain

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”- Albert Einstein

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

”Developing expertise is more important than any weapon modification.” – Jim Boland
Well, the last one might seem a bit odd to the general public reading this, but it reflects the idea that your own skills are of more worth than having to rely on tricks or gadgets.


Now, let me leave you with two final thoughts.

“The only currency that you alone can devalue is your integrity.”

“Faith should be tempered with logic and reasoning.”

The Power of Colors on Your Mind

Using Colors to Change Behavior.

In my early teenage years my mother was into painting clowns of all things. That might have been why I tried my hand at painting. I remember buying a paint by numbers kit which contained a canvas with an outline of a famous Picasso painting and acrylic paints. The colors I had to use were very flat, not vibrant at all. After it was finished I showed it to a few people and the responses were also very flat.

Now because of a little accident at the age of 10, I had been studying people’s behavior and how the mind could be affected by different input. Plus I had always been a very curious kid which was sometimes illuminating to me but a pain to others. So I decided to go over my original paint with new bright colors while still maintaining the Picasso design. I waited a few months hoping the people I originally showed the painting to could not remember what I showed them the first time.

Wow, what a different response the bright lively colors brought. The second time around, people were more energetic in describing how they liked the painting. I remember one woman who saw my first try thought it was a different painting entirely. Another said he felt energized.

In my 30s, after having experimented with colors from time to time, I used colors to help reinforce change in people’s behavior. It makes a good reinforcement tool. When I’m working with someone on a subconscious level I will suggest that in their everyday life  when they see a certain color it would reinforce something positive that they’re trying to achieve.

What’s your favorite color?

It’s a question we all have very strong opinions about because colors are powerful in many ways: for changing mood, expressing emotions, even influencing action. Colors such as yellow, green, red, orange, blue, white, and purple are colors most often used to evoke specific feelings.

People respond to different colors in different ways and these responses take place on a subconscious, emotional level. In the U.S., for example, the color black has long been associated with death, while white is believed to signify life and purity. In Asia, however, white is the traditional color of mourning. Americans generally associate trust and stability with the color blue which is probably why so many businesses use it. However, Koreans associate more with pink and other pastel colors in this regard.

One of the most recent pieces of research is from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver that assessed how a red or blue background color on computer screens affected the work of 600 students. When the background was red, students responded with greater recall and attention to detail. When it was blue, they became more creative.

According to color therapist Jill Morton of Colorcom in Honolulu, Hawaii, a possible explanation lies in the different wavelengths of the colors, causing people to perceive red objects as moving toward us and blue ones as moving away. She speculates that one reason for the finding was that students may have focused more on close detail work simply to get relief from the aggressiveness of the red background, but of course, it’s hard to know for sure.

The colors you need at a given time will also shift
according to events in your life.

Light, Wavelengths & Colors:

Light is an electromagnetic energy produced by the sun in different wavelengths. As the light is absorbed and reflected, we end up with different colors. Specific colors generally have different effects on the human brain.  Different colors give off different wavelength frequencies and these different frequencies have different effects on physical and psychological functions and consequently different habits/behaviors.

Light has different particles called photons and microwaves. Light penetrates everything, even our bodies. Light also emits wavelengths that we cannot see (ultraviolet). These wavelengths contain radiation, which is energy.  Colored light can be used directly on the body’s health and immune system, affecting the body and the emotions. It does not alter the material make up of the body, but rather the vibrational aspect, similar to homeopathy.

How Colors Generally Affect People:

calming, lowers blood pressure, decreases respiration; associated with peacefulness, rest and relaxation.

soothing, relaxing mentally and physically, helps those suffering from depression, anxiety, nervousness; harmonious and balancing.

energizes, stimulates appetite and digestive system; associated with positive feelings.

used in diet therapy as an appetite suppressant, relaxes muscles, relieves tension, soothing; associated with rejuvenation.

stimulates brain wave activity, increases heart rate, respiration and blood pressure;  associated with passion and energy.

energizes, relieves depression, improves memory, stimulates appetite; associated with happiness and clarity.

cleansing and purity; associated with the removal of negativity.

The set of frequencies related to musical notes is an example of how colors works. If you place two properly tuned guitars in the same room and pluck the A string on one guitar, the A string on the second guitar will also ring. This is because the sound frequency of the A note traveled across the room causing the resonant frequency of the A string on the second guitar to sound.

Likewise, a person’s behavior has his own resonant frequencies.  Therefore, we can “tune” our habits for optimal wellness through color therapy by exposing our subconscious to the specific color needed.

My personal development program uses combined methodology to help you achieve success.  My Left-Right Brain Learning program with subconscious conditioning is enhanced as a result of my incorporation of specific and proven music and color therapies.

Music & Learning and Use in Behavior Modification

Using Music for Behavior Modification & Learning.

Music can have a profound effect on people and different types of music can affect our emotions in different ways. I personally know that if I listen to jazz and blues music that I will have an emotional reaction that is different than if I’m listening to classical music. Music can also have a tremendous effect on our energy levels. Some music just automatically revs you up while other music can put us into a relaxed, ‘chilled out’ mood.

Music as a Therapeutic Tool:

The concept of music as a healing influence to affect physical health and behavior can be traced back thousands of years. According to the American Music Therapy Association, therapeutic music began as a 20th century discipline after the two World Wars when musicians visited hospitals to play for the thousands of injured and emotionally traumatized veterans. Doctors and nurses noticed the patients’ positive responses to music on both the physical and emotional level.

As a therapeutic tool, music aids persons with mental health needs by alleviating stress and anxiety and improving neural pathways so people can more easily explore their personal feelings to achieve a sense of control over their lives and make positive changes in lifestyle, work environment, and mood.

Using Music to Teach Foreign Languages:

If you’ve read any of my other articles you’ll know that I’ve always been extremely curious in my life. In the 1970s I was Chief of Staff for one of the largest teaching/therapy institutes in the world which specialized in subconscious conditioning. And even though I had a successful practice and many on a waiting list to see me, my search for ways to improve my process was always in the forefront of my mind.

I remember reading a magazine about a course being offered to teach and certify people who wanted to become instructors in using music to help people learn a foreign language. It was being taught by Dr. Georgi Lozanov, a Bulgaria medical doctor who specialized in psychiatry and psychotherapy. I really didn’t want to take weeks out of my schedule and fly from California to Maryland but I just couldn’t resist the possibility of incorporating music into my process which I determined would be a powerful asset in making people more susceptible to positive thoughts and ideas.

Much of the class was taught in French, with the aid of music playing in the background. By the way, I didn’t speak French but oddly enough I actually started to understand French from doing nothing but listening to the teacher talk to us in French.

Changing Behavior With the Use of Music:

Baroque music was the kind used by Dr. Lozanov and the type I was exposed to during my studies at his Institute. This music brings about vast changes in a person’s cognitive and physical abilities.

The big mistake that most therapists make is thinking that if they use what most people consider is a relaxing/calming type of music, the mind’s acceptance of positive suggestions will increase. At best, playing just any type of relaxing/calming music will only have a temporary effect.

It has been well researched that the music has to be of a certain type. Through my own research I have found that it is also necessary to fit the music to the individual’s learning type. I will go into more detail about learning types in an upcoming article but for the time being, let’s just stick with the subject of music.

Slow musical rhythms around 60 beats per minute, which corresponds to the resting heart beat and the body’s natural rhythms, are especially useful for relaxation and giving the brain an opportunity to process information more easily. It’s organic!

Physiological Changes Attributed to the Use of Special Music:

1.  Blood pressure is lowered; heartbeat slows.

2.  The fast, beta waves of a fully awake individual gradually decrease while the alpha waves of a fully relaxed but alert individual increase.

3.  The right and left hemispheres of the brain synchronize which stimulates increased productivity of the brain.

Learning, Physical and Emotional Improvements:

1.  People who listened to special types of music over time functioned well with less sleep because the mind and body were being continuously recharged through the music.

2.  People were able to study more efficiently and more easily learn complex graphic skills.

3.  People were able to reduce stress and anxiety; cut their dependency of alcohol and cigarettes and function more calmly in stressful road traffic conditions.

Next time you listen to music of any type, think about how it makes you feel. Try experimenting with different types of music, even ones you may not normally gravitate toward. You just may be surprised by the result.

My personal development program uses combined methodology to help you achieve success in different areas of your life. It is primarily based upon my Left-Right Brain Learning process with subconscious conditioning which is enhanced by my using specific and proven music.

The Common Sense Approach to Peak Sports Performance

It’s agreed that 90% of winning is mental.
So why do the majority of individuals and teams spend an average of 10% on mental conditioning?

Even though I’m very competitive, I had never thought of competing in sports in my early life. The only athletic endeavor I participated in, as a result of being picked on by bullies at a young age, was weight lifting for strength and later, the martial arts.

All that changed in my 30s when I was working as a psychotherapist specializing in subconscious conditioning. Because of the high-level people I was working with, which took me frequently out of the country, I was recruited to participate in special government assignments. And because much of my training encompassed the use of weapons and tactics, my trainers, Michael Harries (who created the famous handgun/flashlight technique) and Jeff Cooper (considered the godfather of modern combat techniques) thought that I should, as part of my training, participate in combat/speed shooting competition.


After a relatively short period of time, due much to my mental conditioning process, I joined the ranks of the top 14 shooters in the world. Bear in mind that the other shooters were professionals with great resources and spending about 20 hours practicing to every one of mine.

Sports Psychology:

Early on, when I first became interested in sports psychology, I discovered that while there was a lot available, the books and CDs were being produced by ‘sports psychologists’, many of whom had never even competed in a sport and the rest of the available information was filled with psychobabble. So I started reading books by athletic coaches and a few of them were very good. They seemed to naturally understand what athletes needed to learn in order to improve but most importantly how to improve.

Increasing Athletic Performance: Do’s and Don’ts:

Generally, sports psychologists will tell you that in order to have an edge over your competitors you must give 110%. Then in the same breath they tell you to stay relaxed. Well between you and me you cannot do both at the same time. Tense up your fist as hard as you can at the same time keeping it relaxed. Impossible.

Staying relaxed and giving 95% will give you your best chance in beating the competition because it takes a little bit of the edge off which helps reduces stress. I learned this when I was in high school.

One Saturday some friends of mine and I we’re sitting on a grassy knoll (no, not the infamous one) overseeing the track team that was practicing. The track coach started yelling for the sprinters to lineup. Some of my friends knew that I was fast and dared me to go down and run. Well, I couldn’t turn down the challenge. So I went down and asked  the coach if I could run the hundred yard dash with the sprinters. He saw I was barefooted so he said I would have to run on the grass next to the track. The sprinters had track shoes and starting blocks. Pete, one of the sprinters, was the fastest guy in our school and a friend of mine. So I really didn’t care if I won or lost. It was all about having fun. And that was the key. I was running, you could say, with about 90% effort. I won the race by a wide margin and a time of 10 seconds flat.

Don’t be lazy, just don’t try too hard.  There is a law of the mind called ‘The Harder You Try To Do Something, The Harder It Is To Do It’. Example: you’re trying to remember something, it’s on the tip of your tongue, and the harder you try to remember it, the harder it is. Relax, maybe think of something else, and what you tried to remember will pop up.

Relaxation equals smooth working muscles and smooth actions equals speed.  If you look at sprinters breaking the tape at the finish line, you will see more winners with a relaxed facial expression than a face reflecting stress.

Muscle memory is obviously very important in sports. But you only get good muscle memory from practicing good quality techniques. It would be better to practice something 10 times properly than a thousand times badly. Your focus should always be on quality not quantity. There was a world Champion in combat shooting from South Africa. Because of the law in his country, he was only allowed to practice with a small amount of ammunition. So every time he went out to practice he only fired one hundred rounds. But he made each shot count. Some shooters here in the states would go through a thousand rounds in a day while making the same mistakes over and over.

Practice makes better, but only if you’re smart in your practice sessions. You will never be perfect. It is unattainable. But if you strive to be better in you workouts, learn from your  mistakes, you will experience a wonderful progression of increased skill.

Conditioning Your Mind:

What I’m about to say is going to be difficult for some of you to accept. But here goes. You cannot really care if you win or lose, just as long as you played according to the level of your practice sessions. What that means is that your real skill level will be revealed in your practice sessions. If you’re doing things right in your practice sessions you’ll be happy with your results. So you want to take the confidence you achieved in practice and make it work for you on the days that you’re competing.

No matter what your skill level, keep a positive attitude because a negative attitude definitely creates stress. I’ve seen many competitors in different sports, after not doing well in the competition, swear, yell, throw their equipment on the ground, etc. It’s very important that you remember, that when you’re very upset, your mind is hypersensitive and all that negativity is going deep into your mind which, if you do it enough times, will lead to a breakdown in confidence and skill.

I found on some days you can play beyond your best and still get beat. Or you can play your worst and still win.

Two examples: I competed in a shooting match where the top score had held up for many years. On this particular day I was shooting my best and shattered the record. I was feeling pretty good about my performance when at the very last minute someone came in and beat me by two points. In another match I was shooting too fast, missed a target completely, costing me a serious penalty and I still won the match. Bottom line, all you can do is your best.

I also found that when you look at the physical abilities of the top players, their skills are evenly matched. Anyone of the top players has a chance to win. What makes the real difference is their ability to control their mental capabilities: concentration, confidence, focus and their ability to execute their game plan.

Practice, Practice, Practice.  If you aren’t, your competition is!
If you don’t practice smart, why practice at all?

You hear a lot about visualizing what you will do at the competition. But some players can’t see things in their mind. But that’s OK. If you can’t see it in your mind just imagine what it would look like.

I’ve proven it scientifically, that when you properly visualize what you want to accomplish in a competition, your muscles will react as if you were actually practicing physically. The muscles move almost microscopically but they do move.

So the best advice I can give you is to get in a nice comfortable position, relax and visualize exactly what you want to accomplish.

Some of you will react better by giving yourself very direct suggestions such as “I will stay calm, I am confident in my skills, I stay in the Zone”. But some of you will react better by giving yourself implied suggestions such as telling yourself “It’s after competition and I’m smiling; I feel great”, which implies that you did a good job and you’re happy with your performance. It’s very important to always remember to match your positive suggestions to you’re Learning Type.

The Left-Right Brain Learning Process

Understanding Learning/Suggestibility Types For Behavior Modification.

My process of Left-Right Brain Learning started one dark cold night at the age of 10 while in the backyard sawing a piece of wood for the fireplace. After a few seconds of being distracted by some lights in the sky, I looked back down to the wood and noticed that the saw had accidentally jumped onto my index finger.

The interesting thing was that I didn’t notice I had been sawing my finger until I looked down and saw the blood. Because of not understanding how I could injure myself and not feel any pain, this mishap led me on a path of trying to find how the mind body are so intimately connected. I studied every book I could get my hands on related to self-analysis, meditation, hypnosis, etc. Interesting enough the answer came a couple of years later from a magic book describing the art of distraction and how it can trick the mind. Well, that’s what had happened to me when I was so distracted by the lights in the sky. In my case it was a 180-degree refocus of my mind and a 100% absorption of new information – the lights in the sky. At that precise moment, nothing else mattered to me and if I had not refocused back to sawing the wood, I might have lost a finger.

In time, after reading about different modalities regarding behavior modification, I started using self-analysis and a method of self-hypnosis to try to affect functions of my mind and body … some of the functions that are allocated to the subconscious like my breathing and heartbeat. I figured all I needed to do was make a good connection to my subconscious  or later what I would later call my inner mind.

Over the years I would work with anyone who was willing to be my guinea pig. Some people thought it would be fun to experience the things I was experimenting with and others actually wanted to see if I could help them with a problem.

A Pattern Begins to Show Itself:

The more people I worked with, the more I began to observe a pattern arising in connection with the outcome from the type of suggestions I would give to individuals. I started to see that straightforward suggestions would work effectively with some people but not others.

Then one day I decided to ask all the people I was working with the same question, “Did you buy your shoes?”. Some took the question very literally and responded with a “Yes I did.”, or “No, my mother bought them for me.” Then there were others who were more concerned with trying to figure out the purpose behind the question and they would answer with, Why, don’t you like them?”, or “What’s wrong with them?”

So in my 20s I began to put things together and came up with the idea that some people in their early years learn to accept very literally what was being taught to them and that they could trust in that way of learning. While others, possibly because of being sent mixed messages, got into the habit of thinking they needed to interpret what was being said to them.

Coming from the point of view that we are all “sponges with feet” from the time we are born through childhood, it’s important to understand that old “learned” belief systems (habits) can hamper our lives today in myriad ways, from crushing our creativity to destroying our self-esteem, limiting our ability to learn and be productive or to modify behavior.

So that is why it is extremely important to know and understand your unique type of Learning/Suggestibility.

The Left Hemisphere Versus The Right:

In the mid 1960s, a wonderful piece of the puzzle fell into place with the studies generated by Roger Sperry on the hemispheres of the brain along with what other researchers had discovered. The researchers found that when an individual had one hemisphere, let’s say the left hemisphere, removed because of injury or disease, the patient would exhibit certain traits that were different from a patient who had the opposite hemisphere removed.

And what was fascinating was the fact that the different traits of the two brain hemispheres coincided with my research into people being affected in different ways when given the same exact suggestions. Remember my example of “Did you buy those shoes?”. So it all came together, the left hemisphere was prone to learning and accepting suggestions in a more questionable fashion, and the right hemisphere was more prone to learning and accepting suggestions in a more direct and literal way.

And with that, my Left-Right Brain Learning Process which is a highly personalized approach to alter behavior (and thereby change habits) by fitting the process to your unique type of suggestibility was born.

Remember, it’s not your conscious mind that has the most power. We use only 10% of it. It’s your subconscious mind (90%) that really controls much of how we do things. And if you don’t learn to communicate effectively with your subconscious (Inner Mind), you won’t be the one in control.

•    Responsible for awareness of time, sequence, details, order
•    Responsible for auditory receptive and verbal expression
•    Responsible for boundaries; knowing right from wrong
•    Specializes in words, logic, analytical thinking, reading, writing
•    Processes information from parts to whole
•    Understands and respects rules and deadlines

•    Responsible for intuitive and emotional responses
•    Specializes in understanding the whole picture
•    Specializes in music, art, visual-spatial and/or visual-motor activities
•    Helps us form mental images when reading and/or conversing
•    Helps us to form and maintain relationships

One-Size-Does Not Fit All:

Why are so many new self-help books published every year? Because the old ones didn’t work and soon readers will find that the new ones don’t work either. And why do children have such a hard time in school?

I believe the answer is because, even though everyone has a unique learning process, the teachers and therapists keep using a one-size-fits-all approach for students and clients. In the beginning of trying something new there’s always some excitement, motivation and hope that this new thing will work. But in a short time it simply becomes another disappointment on the path to achieving your goals.

Self-help programs and even our educational systems are
based upon the idea that everyone learns the same way. We don’t!

The Big Difference:
My Left-Right Brain Learning Process matches the program to the individual – not the individual to the program. The result – a unique customized process.

The first step in my process is taking a simple Learning Type Quiz that will reveal your Left or Right Brain learning preference. It’s about a three minute quiz containing yes or no answers which you can’t pass or fail. The results will simply tell you your percentage of left and right brain suggestibility.

With the knowledge of what Learning Type you are you will be able to customize suggestions for changes that can affect your thoughts, behavior, emotions, body and even for subjective experiences such as pain.

Just think what this means. To be able to have a strong effect on that 90% of your mind power as a result of knowing how best to communicate with it. Communication on your terms.

E.S.T.S. – Extreme Subconscious Takeover Syndrome

The Real Cause of PTSD

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can occur after you’ve been through a traumatic event, such as combat, sexual or physical abuse/attacks, terrorist attacks, serious accidents or illnesses, and natural disasters.

During WW1 it wasn’t called PTSD; it was called “shell shock”. In WW2 it was called “battle fatigue”. During the Vietnam War, it became “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”. Unfortunately as they kept trying to make this serious condition sound more palatable, it also took away the attention/urgency to treat the condition. After all, PTSD doesn’t really sound that serious. But it is!

You’ve heard the expression that “time heals all wounds.” That’s generally true for most people but not for many victims of PTSD. After a traumatic event, they may continue to feel anxious, frightened, confused, depressed, or angry for a very long time.

As you can see from the symptom list above, the condition is not derived solely from military conflict. It can afflict people from all walks of life who are exposed to very serious trauma and feel helpless in the process. But combat personnel go through a hell of a lot more mentally and physically and over a longer period of time, generally. And I know, I was in and out of combat situations for 10 years and suffered from PTSD myself.

Imagine, if you will, what it’s really like for a person in combat. Just think of the overload that builds on a daily basis. Waking up every morning not knowing if you or your buddies are going to be alive at the end of the day or even in the next few hours. Or if you’re going to be shipped home missing a leg, arm or worse. The sounds of war, even if they are a good distance away, is a constant reminder that injury or death is a distinct possibility.

And just think of the endless stream of message units coming your way from the signs of death and destruction all around you day after day, night after night. The dead bodies and body parts whether they are the enemy’s or from your buddies, the odors and sounds that surround you, incoming weapons fire, explosions, the screaming.

Extreme Subconscious Takeover Syndrome (E.S.T.S.):

I mentioned above an “endless stream of message units”. Lets say under normal conditions, the average person’s conscious mind can handle up to 1,000 message units per second from all of their five senses plus their own thoughts.

Anything over 1,000 message units will trigger a mental overload. The subconscious mind takes over, preparing you to physically fight or flee. But your mind can’t fight or run away from a mental overload. So it suppress those two physical actions and the accompanying negative feelings, tuning unfulfilled fight into stress and anxiety and the unfulfilled urge to run away into depression.

But now these men and women in combat might have 3,000, 5,000 or more message units pouring into the conscious mind. Is it any wonder that many of them come back suffering with PTSD, barely able to function?

PTSD Symptoms:

Symptoms usually occur soon after the traumatic event; sometimes they may not start until weeks, months or years later; they may also come and go over many years. The primary types of symptomatic behavior are: reliving the event, avoiding situations, feeling numb, and feeling keyed up or “hyper-aroused”. Sensitivity to loud sounds. Paranoia.

People with PTSD may also develop other problems, including: substance abuse, employment issues, emotional feelings of hopelessness, shame, despair, physical symptoms like migraines, aches, pains and they may experience problems with relationships.

More than twenty veterans commit suicide each day. That information was revealed by Veterans Administration data from 1999-2011 covering 21 U.S. states. About 50,000 veterans were reported homeless by communities across America in January 2014.

Women veterans commit suicide six times the rate of other women. How can they not be overloaded when a 2012 Defense Department survey found that 23% of active-duty women had experienced a sexual assault. So on top of everything they normally have to deal with in the military, 23% of the women have been sexually assaulted and the other 79% pray they won’t be.

My Process:

Step 1:   Discovery
It starts by taking a simple yes or no answer, three-minute questionnaire that can’t be passed or failed. This begins the process by understanding how an individual learns and then applying a specific conversation to that individual’s mind. In other words, the person will be using the same language (learning behavior) that created a problem to remove it and replace it with something positive.

Step 2:  Understanding
It’s necessary to understand the concept of Extreme Subconscious Takeover where your conscious mind becomes overloaded and your subconscious mind begins to prepare you for fight or flight. This can turn into anxiety or depression.

Step 3:  Systematic Desensitization
My SD360 Method – ‘SD’ stands for Systematic Desensitization. The 360 means we start and finish the process at the same place, relaxation and calm. But in between, we work on building self-confidence, feelings of self-control and then, very carefully, bring up a little of the feelings created by the PTSD. All suggestions are created from knowing the unique learning type of the individual. This is a must. (more on Learning Type at jbartell.com)

So in essence what we are doing, as the name of the process suggests, is systematically desensitizing the individual to a traumatic or multiple traumatic situations. And at the same time, we are building up, the confidence and the feelings of calm and relaxation to not only deal with traumatic situations but also the everyday stress that we all experience.

Step 4:  Self-Help Tools
I teach methods that are scientifically tested to prevent an overload and show you how to get out of an overload once it occurs.

Breath Control Method:

This method is very simple and easy to implement. At the same time it is a very powerful way to help get out of an overload which triggers PTSD brought on by anxiety or depression.

If you’re in an overload or feel one coming on, you most likely feel some level of stress, anxiety or a feeling of emotional numbness which can lead to a lack of motivation to do anything. But no matter how helpless you may feel, there is something you definitely do control, and that is your breathing. The following exercise of controlling your oxygen intake will actually help increase feelings of calm and physical relaxation.

You can use this method with your eyes open or closed. If you’re in a place where you can get into a comfortable position, do it.

Step #1:  slowly, inhale through your nose only to a count of five.
Step #2:  hold that breath to a count of five.
Step #3:  slowly exhale through your mouth to a count of five.

1)  Always try to finish each inhale or exhale on the last number.
2) After you’re comfortable with the count of 5-5-5, increase the count to a higher but comfortable count.  Don’t make the count too high and stress yourself.
3)  Stress relief, like anything worth achieving, takes effort and practice.
4)  Practice even when you’re not overloaded so when you really need help coping with stress, you will be well prepared.

PTSD Can be Eliminated:

The Breath Control method above is a powerful tool in combating PTSD. But you’re going to need more than that to win your battle against PTSD. You need to find someone who understands the concepts and can implement the techniques discussed in this article.

S.T.S. – Subconscious Takeover Syndrome – Part II

Combating Stress

As I wrote in S.T.S. Part I, The Real Cause of Stress, your brain can only process so much information at a time. I suggested, for the sake of discussion, that the limit was 1,000 message units per second.  These message units come from everything we come in contact with. From everything we see, hear, smell, taste and feel (physically and emotionally), everything we think about.

Conscious Overload:

Subconscious Takeover Syndrome or S.T.S. is simply when too many message units, more than we can handle, go into our conscious mind which then triggers the sub-conscious mind to take over and prepare us for fight or flight. This process might have worked for cavemen facing sabertooth tigers and the like, but not today when modern man faces modern-day problems.

So when fight turns into anxiety or flight turns into depression, we need to do something quickly to stop this. On top of everything else, your mind and body are affected by a flood of excess chemicals, like adrenaline and cortisol, that have been released because of the overload. (see S.T.S. Part I)

Too Many Message Units:

Following are examples of situations that can cause overloads. Remember, your brain , for the sake of this article, can only handle 1,000 messages units per second without overloading.

•  you walk outside and it’s cloudy and dismal looking. You expected a nice sunny day.
Add 250 message units – total 1,250

•  you receive a letter from your kid’s school saying how bad he/she is doing.
Add 500 message units – total 1,750

•  you’re late to work because of being stuck in traffic an extra hour.
Add 500 message units – total 2,250.

•  you’re not going to get the pay raise you desperately have been counting on.
Add 1,500 message units – total 3,750

Now you’re trying to get through the day not with 1,000 but with 3,750 messages units per second. Your conscious mind is now in overload and your subconscious mind begins to prepare you for fight or flight, which as you learned in S.T.S. Part I, turns into anxiety or depression.

Have a Plan:

I think you would agree that it is better to have a good plan in case of an avalanche than to wait until you have to dig yourself out after being buried alive.

So what can you do?

The Beginning of an Overload:

Before controlling your stress by using my methods, you should definitely know what symptoms are created at the very beginning of your overloads. This is important because it can help you stop your overloads before they become too big a problem for you to handle.

Think of a snowball at the top of a hill. Once the snowball starts rolling down the hill, it begins to gather more snow which makes it bigger. If you’re paying attention, you can run down and catch it before it gets out of control. The same thing happens with an overload of the mind. So please pay attention to what you’re feeling and thinking in the beginning of an overload.

What do you feel or experience?
You start getting a little edgy, finding that your attention is a little bit foggy, you’re becoming a little irritable? Tightness, anxiety, nervousness, oversensitivity, anger, sadness, fatigue?

The “Cubbyholes” Method:

To help prevent an overload we must put some things on hold until we’re able to deal with them or because they are out of our control. This is not procrastinating this is common sense.

Imagine a large wall with dozens of small openings, little nooks. When there are things you can’t, for whatever reason, deal with at the moment, or are out of your control, in your mind, turn the situation into an object then put it in one of those little nooks – a cubbyhole. In can be any type of object: a ball, a piece of paper, whatever you’re comfortable with. Here are some examples:
•  Bad Weather – can’t control it. Put it in a glass globe then into a Cubbyhole.
•  Bad School Letter – deal with it at lunch or at home. The letter goes in a Cubbyhole.
• Bad Traffic – can’t control it. Imagine the traffic as a toy car and put it in a Cubbyhole.
• No Raise – figure out some options later. Turn the problem into a wallet and put it in a Cubbyhole.

Using your mind to turn situations into objects and storing them is using your creativity to help your mind move away from negative thinking that could potentially create an overload.

At an appropriate time, go back to your Cubbyhole and retrieve the object that represents the problem. Your no longer overloaded conscious mind, using your logic and reasoning, will aid you in figuring out a solution.

Breath Control Method:

If you’re in an overload or feel one coming on, you most likely feel some level of stress, anxiety or a feeling of emotional numbness which can lead to a lack of motivation to do anything. But no matter how helpless you may feel, there is something you definitely do control, and that is your breathing. The following exercise of controlling your oxygen intake will actually help increase feelings of calm and physical relaxation.

You can use this method with your eyes open or closed. If you’re in a place where you can get into a comfortable position, do it.

Step #1:  slowly inhale through your nose only to a count of five.
Step #2:  hold that breath to a count of five.
Step #3:  slowly exhale through your mouth to a count of five.

1)  Always try to finish each inhale or exhale on the last number.
2)  After you’re comfortable with the count of 5-5-5, increase the count to a higher but comfortable count.  Don’t make the count too high and stress yourself.
3)  Stress relief, like anything worth achieving, takes effort and practice.
4)  Practice even when you’re not overloaded so when you really need help coping with stress, you will be well prepared.

I know it sounds too simple. But I have taught my methods for 35 years to people all over the world and it works. From regular folk to heads of state.

S.T.S. – Subconscious Takeover Syndrome – Part I

 The Real Cause Of Stress

We all know the terms stress, depression and anxiety. Most people believe that stress is always bad and that depression and anxiety can be debilitating. And oftentimes, that’s the extent of their knowledge.

Over the years, I’ve heard people from all walks of life tell me, “Okay I get it, stress can get very bad, but hell, I still don’t know what to do about it. I’ve used relaxation techniques and they just don’t work! I have bad mood swings; I’m always tired and I just don’t like my life. I give up.”

The One-Size-Fits-All Approach Does Not Work:

One of the main reasons that treating stress doesn’t work is because those who treat the condition fail to recognize that even though the cause of stress is basically the same for everyone, a one-size-fits-all approach will not work for the majority. A clear example is that not everyone suffers from stress because people have a way of reacting to their environment that is unique to them. Not everyone has learned to deal with their environment in the same way which means every person must have their therapy or self-help process fit their individualized learning/suggestibility type.

To get a handle on stress you must first understand the concept of overload, specifically what I call Subconscious Takeover Syndrome (STS) – the kind of overload that leads to stress which in turn can lead to depression and anxiety.

First Let’s Talk Brain Power:

Let’s begin with the basics. We’re born with a primitive mind, one that does anything it can to help us survive in our environment. It doesn’t know the difference between right or wrong and it possesses no logic or reasoning.

During the first few years of life we develop another mind, our conscious mind, that contains two powerful abilities, logic and reasoning, which is about 10% of the power of our mental capacity. The theory that the conscious mind makes up only 10% while the subconscious mind is 90% has been proven over and over to be the case throughout history.

For example, if you consciously walked over to the rear end of a car and tried to lift it off the ground, you would not succeed. But there have been cases of people in extreme emergency situations exhibiting incredible physical strength, like one woman picking up one end of a car that fell on her son while he was working underneath it.

How Stress Develops


Twenty-four hours a day your mind is being fed what I call “message units” from your environment and from your own body and thinking process. Everything you come in contact with feeds message units to your brain: everything you see, hear, smell, taste and feel (physically and emotionally):

Your clothes touching your body.
Your butt as you sit in a chair.
Everything you are thinking.
All the information, news and ads, on television, radio, and social media.
What you think people are thinking, etc.

One “Message Unit” too Many


Say your mind can only handle 1,000 message units per second. And let’s say today is bad day.

You just got another bill you can’t pay.
Broke your arm and need it treated.
Forgot tomorrow is exam day at school and you didn’t prepare.
Prices on just about everything are going up.
Someone cut you off on the freeway and flipped you the bird suggesting it was your fault.

Now you’re taking in 2,000 to 3,000 message units per second. When you’re overloaded, your conscious mind, with it’s logic and reasoning, becomes overwhelmed so your subconscious mind tries to compensate. It tries to protect you from what it perceives is danger and prepares you for fight or flight. The adrenaline, cortisol and other chemicals in the body are there for good reason. They can help you by increasing strength, speed and focus in an emergency. And if the overload isn’t dealt with, the constant flow of these chemicals, even though natural, can result in damage to the body and mind.

You’ve heard about the proverbial sabertooth tiger back in cavemen times triggering fight or flight. But this is modern-day; there are no sabertooth tigers. We have traffic jams, lost jobs, aggravating politics, not making enough money, too many damn TV commercials during your favorite program and on and on.

So now when you become overloaded with too many message units and there is no tiger to fight or run away from, what do you do? Well, you can’t just instantly fight or run away from not having enough money, so your subconscious mind tries to protect you by completely suppressing the urge to run or fight. This turns unfulfilled fight into stress and anxiety, while the unfulfilled urge to run away turns into running deeper into your mind, essentially hiding, with nothing but negative feelings. This is depression. And all of those extra negative message units, in addition to your normal ones, simply compound the problem. Then what happens? Drinking and drug problems, high blood pressure, heart attack, strokes, and/or emotional problems.

In the days of the caveman, if you were successful in combating the sabertooth tiger or escaping it, things could pretty much return to normal. But how do you beat up or run away from the high cost-of-living without comparable salary increases?

Understanding how stress develops and using unique stress reduction tools that fit you as an individual can be very effective in preventing stress from occurring or reduce it if fight or flight has been activated. Go to jbartell.com to find out more about your learning/suggestibility type.