THEI would be classified as cognitive therapy. Well-informed psychologists would see influences from practically every school of philosophy and psychology in written history.
The intention is to enable people in need of therapy, as well as people already well advanced in Observer and Flow states, to spend more time in those peak experience states of consciousness.
Bill Harvey, the theorist behind THEI, is the developer of the THEI system. In his youth, he developed the practices of THEI (he thought of them as “programs” in the software sense) in a vacuum. That is, he observed his own thoughts, feelings, intuitions, perceptions, memories, internal images, dreams, and his own behavior in the consensual world. His objective was to understand the Flow state into which he had been propelled by onstage performances starting at age 4. He desired to be able to get back into that state at will. The programs he developed were found to function well as therapy in curing him of neuroses including OCD and many other self-defeating patterns. He realized that they did not automatically bring on Flow state, but they did bring on a state also very valuable, he calls the Observer state, a notch below Flow, and perhaps the access state to Flow.
Starting in his preteens he became an avid reader in science, especially psychology, astronomy, relativity, and quantum physics, as well as philosophies of West and East, discovering Maslow, Watts, William James, the Enchiridion, Heinlein (more than a scifi writer), Buddhism, Zen, Hinduism, and others. In college, he studied philosophy and psychology. Starting in his 20s he completed his education of the world’s philosophies and religions including the early “magical” systems, Tao, Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Csikszentmihalyi, Kashmir Shaivism, and others.
Entering a psychology-related field – media research – he has spent a long career there and is acknowledged as one of the global leaders in that field, having made an indelible impression on its practices with his many innovations. In his career he at one point had the honor of working with Richy Davidson and Daniel Goleman, leaders in the field of measuring states of consciousness using neuroscience; their work together applied neuroscience to media research early in the adoption cycle (1980s). Both Richy and Daniel taught psychobiology at Harvard, as did Richard Alpert (Ram Dass). Alpert and Goleman have both praised the THEI manual Mind Magic. Having reviewed the manual, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi became an advisor to THEI.
Bill’s company Research Measurement Technologies (RMT) has reduced the number of psychological characteristics which drive media viewing choice and brand choice to 265 dimensions called DriverTags. Third-party disinterested validations have been made of the system by other industry-leading research companies including Nielsen and MRI-Simmons. Two things have been proven:
- When the DriverTag resonance/empathy is high between the content of a specific ad and a specific person seeing or hearing the ad, the ad has greater effect on that person.
- When the DriverTag resonance/empathy is high between the content of a specific ad and the content of a specific ad environment (e.g., television program or web page), the ad has greater effect.
Media research, tied to the field of advertising, is an underused, very socially useful testing ground for development and verification of psychological theory. Millions of observations can be taken in a minute. No privacy invasion need ever occur.
The DriverTags are grouped into 86 Need States, and those Need States are grouped into 15 Motivations. The 15 Motivations bear a strong resemblance to the terms Maslow used in his Hierarchy of Needs. This was not an intended outcome, it just happened. There is consilience between two very different methodologies.
The 265 DriverTags were distilled by an empirical non-subjective process from every word in the Oxford Unabridged Dictionary. In the final stage, 1562 psychological descriptors were reduced to these 265 by machine learning involving TV set-top box data and an AI program recommender which recommended programs to people which they had never watched before, but stood a good chance of liking, because of the psychological resonance/empathy between the programs they do watch, and the recommended program. As the ML system operated it threw out noise variables not correlated with the loyal viewer conversions produced by the recommendations. This brought the conversion rate up from 3% to 18% and brought down the number of predictive variables from 1562 to 265.
THEI is not in the media research business, but is a 501.c.3 nonprofit institute aimed at the improvement of decision making by individuals and organizations. This improvement in decision making is enabled by the suggestion of mental/emotional/intuitional practices as distributed in THEI’s books such as Mind Magic and Mind Experiments, videos such as CONNECTEDNESS, blogs such as PEBBLES IN THE POND, articles in other publications. During the height of the pandemic, this material was made available free to everyone.
Psychology as a science has its detractors, that is, people who point out that, unlike physics, everything is not reduced to mathematics. It’s true that physics has achieved a level of science greater than the present state of psychology, which is exciting because it suggests that there is a lot of great work to do yet in psychology.
Before we leave the prior point let’s also make a salient observation: mathematics itself has no content. The ability to reduce things to numbers does not pleasure the mind with the same level of understanding as when a human being finds out an important truth and totally groks it inside and out. Physics has given up grokking in favor of prediction. THEI would like psychology to grow in both directions. Predictivity (=Verifiability) + Grokking (=Understanding).
When a THEI program works, how does it do that?
Grokking occurs at the phenomenological subjectively-experienced qualia level, i.e., within an individual’s consciousness. Grokking is defined as seeing a greater sphere of understanding about a subject than one had seen before.
Let’s say your two sons are always fighting, and they constantly compete with one another, and it is moving in the direction of ugly. Naturally, you sit down and have a talk with each of them individually and with the two of them together and try to work things out. If you stick with that practice, eventually you will strike upon a small set of words which will suddenly click and the two boys will look up in surprise and a willingness to open mind. The choice of words did it, as well as the tone of voice, etc.
The optimal set of words for that situation in the THEI database is: “Put yourself in his shoes.”
Some of the THEI catchphrases are homilies out of ancient times East and West. Some are brand new and reflect a metaphor of mind/brain computer science. That is, discussing qualia (human consciousness) as information processing. The latter has turned out to be a useful principle in developing a battery of linguistic stimuli aimed at what Daniel Goleman calls Self Management. Mentor to both Bill and Dan, Ram Dass, wrote: “Mind Magic is a delight. Sets forth with neat precision just how to do it (think).” Dan, author of Emotional Intelligence and coiner of that term, writes of Mind Magic: “Highly recommended… will loosen your moorings and open you to creative vistas.”
The loosening of the moorings is deconditioning. Both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy have used THEI from time to time, and the benefits they seek include deconditioning, observational abilities, out of box thinking, emotional resilience, Flow state. Deconditioning is also important to a bank that has used THEI, they are trying to remove perceptual biases involving empathy with other people.
An example of another THEI “program” is Avoid Hasty Closure. AHC is a chapter in MIND MAGIC and part of a larger collection of such programs into a “Key” of which there are 12. This Key is to “Take an instant to doubt your own last thought or feeling.” Programs within this Key are aimed at bringing on the Observer state within the individual. AHC emphasizes one deconditioning aspect of this Key, that of avoiding making up your mind instantly a certain way just because you remember making that kind of decision that way in the past.
Therefore, THEI psychotechnology works by introducing stimuli which get the individual motivated and engaged in directly and methodically tackling the granular implications of decisions made every second.
Since thinking is hard, it appears helpful to have a tool helping people stay on track. It is not a step-by-step linear system, many people say they open MIND MAGIC at random every morning or when feeling down, all the principles/programs interact with each other. The Keys are presented in a subjectively-determined order which appears satisfactory based on results. However, at some point in the future THEI hopes to be able to scientifically optimize sequence and design of the stimuli.
THEI had an early concern that granular thinking second to second might induce Hamlet-style Analysis Paralysis. So far, around 3000+ unsought testimonials are in the database, and so far, no reports of Inforush Paralysis (N=~35,000 books sold; many today have had substantial pass-along).
Other programs are designed to remove overthinking. For example, Mindquiet teaches the user to think without words. Many programs suggest that the user does what he/she really wants to do right then, to induce a state of play at one’s passion work, and hopefully bring on Flow state. THEI teaches not to cheer oneself as Flow comes on but to stay with the playing.
In 2022 THEI will be looking for opportunities to do more empirical experimentation in coordination with RMT and its DriverTags, and organizations in all sectors.