Saturday, April 24, 2010

Brand Obama: Mesmerizing Voters with Hypnotic Speech Techniques

"My job this morning is to be so persuasive . . . that a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany, and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Barack." -Barak Obama, Dartmouth College during the presidential campaign.

Other Brand Obama posts include:
The Spider and the Fly
The Drunkard's Search
Inoculation and the Art of Persuasion
Mesmerizing Voters with Hypnotic Speech Techniques
New Math and the Rise of the Unwed Mother

While the "Beam of Light" bit was so over the top that it was eventually parodied by John McCain in his "The One" commercial. It is a perfect example of what some have cited as Obama's use of NPL (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) during the campaign.

The Obama Messiah web site does an excellent job of documenting Obama's use of the "Beam of Light" bit including CNN's dropping of references to it when he started getting called on it:

Is Barack Obama the Messiah?

It also highlights another similar bit that Obama used on the campaign trail to delirious effect:

"We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."

Due to endless media distortions of hypnotic techniques, it is easy to dismiss accusations that Obama is using them as crackpot:

Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 10:23:58 AM PDT
"The self-delusion of the wingnutosphere is spiraling out of control. Since it can't possibly be that right-wing policies and politicians have utterly failed the country, nor that the politics of hate and division have turned off an increasing majority of voters, nor that Barack Obama is a truly charismatic, intelligent, and inspiring leader, the only answer must be that..


Below are the Freeper postings that generated the tin foil hat accusation from Daily Kos:

In reality Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques have been exploited by hucksters for years:

In fact, there is a known Neuro-Linguistic Programming connection to a former president that nobody bats an eye at:

Later Robbins began teaching neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) which he had learned from NLP co-founder John Grinder. In 1983, Robbins learned how to firewalk from Tolly Burkan[4] and he began to incorporate firewalking into his seminars and later began to teach Neuro-Associative Conditioning (NAC).[citation needed]

Is it really so strange that Democrats and Obama in particular would be using such techniques to get themselves elected? If they really spelled out their far left wing agenda, they would fail spectacularly at the polls:

While it would take too much time to go into NLP techniques in depth, - Obamas Manipulation of Patriotic Imagery contains a comment that neatly summarizes some of them:

Good Detective Work, and a Potential Example of NLP
Submitted by GOP_Rebel on Fri, 06/13/2008 - 12:06.

The subtle message that you've discovered in the image is fascinating. I've been interested in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, aka NLP, for several years. To the uninitiated, NLP is Hypnosis 2.0. While it's still disputed as a model or theory, mainly it's a set of techniques or strategies for enhancing communication and personal influence.

One of the features of NLP is its focus on modalities. Sensory modalities are visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, gustatory and kinesthetic. Once the hypnotist determines whether the target's primary modality is auditory, visual or kinesthetic, then a subconscious message can be encoded in appropriate forms such as images, music, text, semiotic symbols, etc. The human brain cognitively filters out millions of bytes of information constantly, but the subconscious message will pass successfully through the filter, register, and somewhat akin to a Trojan Horse, can be used to trigger specific behavior any time that message is replayed in the future. This technique can be used to great benefit on subjects who are susceptible to behavior modification through reprogramming. It's more elegant than simple "brainwashing" repetition because it employs a multiplicity of modalities and motivators.

One way the practitioner aligns with the subject is through modeling the subject's body language. I've continuously been fascinated that Barack Obama, a man who was raised in my home state of Hawaii where the predominant linguistic style is what we call "pidgin English", has a chameleon like ability to mimic a Southern Accent when he addresses certain audiences. Shelby Steele also points this out in his book about Barack Obama titled "A Bound Man". Shelby and I both find this mannerism quite obnoxious, but perhaps it does endear Obama to an audience with a similar speech pattern. And to be fair, I'm equally guilty of speaking "pidgin" when I'm in Hawaii while never using that inflection in California. It's a code to the locals that says "I belong here, I'm one of you, I'm authentic."

While watching Obama's early primary speeches - the ones which had the effect of overcoming people with emotion to the point of bringing them to tears and fainting spells - I noticed him applying what I thought were several anchoring techniques. When he said something that was designed to create highly charged positive emotion, he'd accompany it with a specific hand gesture. Later in the speech, he'd make another statement designed to elicit positive affect, and use the same hand gesture. The NLP potential here is that later, long after the speech, he can employ that same hand gesture on the news or in a debate and no matter what's being said, and the subjects of earlier "programming" will respond to the gesture (referred to as an anchor) with that same favorable emotion toward him as they had during the initial programming cycle. This is just a peanut gallery theory of mine, I'm not a professional hypnotist, but I do enjoy wrapping my mind around the possibilities of mass hypnosis techniques being applied to millions of people in rallies and on TV who are so primed by their hatred of George Bush that they've become emininently ripe and eager for reprogramming.

Some people are born with an innate understanding of how to do this, others study it and apply it academically. NLP has been informally employed for thousands of years, but it came to prominence as a discipline with the work of Milton Erickson, who used the technique of "telling stories" to embed certain codes and signals for the purpose of influencing behavior.

Hope is what I saw in the eyes of the young woman in Cedar Rapids who works the night shift after a full day of college and still can't afford health care for a sister who's ill. A young woman who still believes that this country will give her the chance to live out her dreams.

Hope is what I heard in the voice of the New Hampshire woman who told me that she hasn't been able to breathe since her nephew left for Iraq. Who still goes to bed each night praying for his safe return.

Hope is what led a band of colonists to rise up against an empire. What led the greatest of generations to free a continent and heal a nation. What led young women and young men to sit at lunch counters and brave fire hoses and march through Selma and Montgomery for freedom's cause.


Hope -- hope is what led me here today. With a father from Kenya, a mother from Kansas and a story that could only happen in the United States of America.


Repetition, anchoring, embedded signals, codes and messages, bypassing cognitive filters and subconscious programming, it's all fascinating. I look forward to more of your fine technical analysis in the future, Patrick. Maybe someone will use your deconstruction and to reconstruct a similar strategy for McCain. I hope that will be a good thing. ;-)

Below is an Obama campaign speech where using classical NPL techniques he magically transforms himself into a southern black man (skip to the 7 minute mark for full impact):

For a more complete discussion of Obama's use of these techniques, please refer to the below article:

or watch the YouTube summary:

Obama is hypnotizing us!!


Tamara said...

It did not work on me!

John Quincy said...

You probably will not be surprised to learn the people most susceptible to these techniques are fantasizers and abuse victims:

Research by Deirdre Barrett has found that there are two distinct types of highly susceptible subjects which she terms fantasizers and dissociaters. Fantasizers score high on absorption scales, find it easy to block out real-world stimuli without hypnosis, spend much time daydreaming, report imaginary companions as a child and grew up with parents who encouraged imaginary play. Dissociaters often have a history of childhood abuse or other trauma, learned to escape into numbness, and to forget unpleasant events. Their association to “daydreaming” was often going blank rather than vividly recalled fantasies. Both score equally high on formal scales of hypnotic susceptibility.

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