Eldon Taylor is considered to be an expert in the area of preconscious information processing and has served as an expert trial witness with regards to both subliminal communication and hypnosis. Eldon was a practicing criminalist for over ten years where he supervised and conducted investigations and testing to detect deception. His earliest work with changing inner beliefs was conducted from this setting, including a double-blind study conducted at the Utah State Prison from 1986 to 1987. Eldon’s approach has always been very down-to-earth, science based and pragmatic.
Here is my interview with Eldon about his book Choices and Illusions:
Armen: You opened the book with what I thought was a great quote by Albert Einstein, which says: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Would you say it is up to the intuitive-minded individuals to express their gift unabashed and with passion?
Eldon Taylor:There isn’t a quick answer to that question. We must be unafraid to follow our intuitive insights but we must also, as Einstein stated, allow our faithful servant, the rational mind to participate. That said, the intuitive mind is our wellspring of authenticity!
Armen: In the chapter about creating self, you said “If honesty gets us into trouble, then deception becomes a defense strategy…”, so would this mean that some of those who currently lie often tried honesty in the past and found it to be fruitless or leading to negative ramifications?
Eldon Taylor: It is rather naïve to think that we are not all liars in the strictest sense. The data shows that the average person tells a lie in conversation about every 15 minutes. Now this lie may be a simple stretch of imagination, a blustering of ego, or an outright fabrication, but we all lie. And your observation is correct, some habitual lying is a strategy, albeit usually unconscious in nature, acquired as the result of a form of operant conditioning. What I mean by that is this: if you put your hand on a hot burner, you learn not to repeat that behavior rather quickly. Our society often rewards lies and punishes the truthful. In fact, this is one element that can led to the condition of self-alienation, a condition all together too many people know just too well.
Armen: Discussing mind and behavior, you said that there is no such thing as anger without fear. I thought this was a wonderful connection I had only partially made before. I tried to come up with some examples of anger that don’t involve fear, and couldn’t come up with any. Would this mean that a relatively fearless person would be much less likely to be able to be perturbed?
Eldon Taylor: The answer is yes! The absence of fear is love. What many fail to understand is that being “tough” is not an antidote to fear but rather breeds only more fear! We cannot fear what we love. I like the way R.D. Lang puts this when he states:
…What we think is less than what we know; what we know is less than what we love; what we love is so much less than what there is. And to that precise extent we are so much less than what we are…
Armen: In the chapter about controversy, you said that the real meaning in life comes from you give, and not what you take. Is it worth solely giving to others if there is no reciprocation, or should the giving we do involve more of a give-and-take, in your view?
Eldon Taylor: When you give conditionally, you do so because you expect something in return. This reciprocal expectation is akin to codependence. If the giving has attached to it the idea of reward, is it really giving at all?
When you convolute the classical model and enter the world with the notion that the reason you are here is to contribute something to the world, you find that all those good things you that you might think you want from the world flow naturally to you. It’s really a matter of that old Biblical verse, “What you sow is what you reap.”
John F. Kennedy put it this way, “Don’t ask what your country can do for you, but rather what you can do for your country.” As you know from reading the book, clients of mine have actually reversed life long habits of self-sabotage by changing their perspective in this way. Think of it like this. When the serviceman comes to your home and makes it clear that they are there first to make you happy, to solve your problem, to do what you need, and it is so clear that payment becomes an afterthought, who will you call the next time you need service?
By conducting our lives from this perspective we gain purpose as well. When we put our heads on the pillow at night and reflect on our day, reflecting on all of those lives we have been able to serve and somehow make their load lighter, lifts our spirits and leads to what I think of as that “warm fuzzy feeling.”
Armen: With regards to having the courage to challenge your self, you said that “… hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent by neuromarketers to determine how our psychology is plumbed, what motivates us, what stimulates us, and what works to meet our threshold of arousal and appeals to our basic drives while instilling just enough uncertainty or fear that it’s easy to feel compelled to act.” Are these advertising elements at the forefront of current psychological understanding? Is there a limit to how manipulative a message can be if an individual is on guard from such efforts?
Eldon Taylor: The answer is yes, but it is much more than just advertising today. Everything from the conversation forms of hypnosis involving indirect suggestion and NLP techniques to our hard wired responses to color, sound, patterns, smell, etc. are deployed as means to gain compliance, or as the propagandists put it, engineer consent.
The answer to the second part of your question is that our only real defense is awareness. We must be alert to the manipulative techniques and continually question our own thoughts and beliefs. It’s really a matter of becoming truly mindful in every moment of our lives. Mindfulness allows us to watch our thinking without judgment and thereby gain true insight into the origin and appropriateness of our life beliefs. In this way we can uncover and eliminate self-limitation and thereby begin to approach true self-actualization.
Thanks goes to Eldon for the interview and a review copy of his book~.