Most people are aware of the harmful effects of stress. Prolonged stress causes the nervous system to become hyperactive, and eventually break down or 'burn out.' Most so-called psychosomatic illnesses are the result of stress-induced tension and anxiety.

We could assume that learning to control stress by being able to induce a certain hypo-metabolic state (as opposed to a hyper-metabolic state) would be beneficial for both a person's physical health and mental stability.

As Professor Gastaut, an expert in electroencephalogram technology (and a highly publicized detractor of the alpha seminar concept) stated himself, ". a hypo-metabolic state is always characterized by modifications in electroencephalogram readings, notably by an increased incidence of alpha waves."

It should not be surprising that researchers became interested in alpha waves, as a possible way of teaching people how to relax. Various approaches and devices were tried, including biofeedback machines, techniques based on existing relaxation and meditation methods, drugs, etc.

Of course the idea has led to some exploitation, especially in the United States, where all kinds of biofeedback and alpha-wave-generating devices have begun popping up in local pharmacies. But that does not mean the whole alpha wave theory should be thrown out the window. Professor Gastaut may remember how opposed people were to the idea of blood transfusions, when doctors first started performing them back in the 1920's.

There is a long list of discoveries that have been violently opposed by some of the greatest figures in the history of science and government. We can understand why the professor may think that alpha waves are his private domain, and that no one else has the right to use them for purposes which he may find unusual.

He may justify this kind of emotional reaction by saying that it is impossible for people to attain, in just a few alpha sessions, what practitioners of more traditional methods took years to achieve. He may overlook the fact that the slowing down of metabolism associated with the emission of alpha brain waves allows people to attain the same state in a very short time. The partial cessation of neo-cortex functions makes subjects extremely open to suggestion, allowing them to influence and control parts of their subconscious that would otherwise remain inaccessible. This is exactly what the Mind Control technique, which has become so popular in the U.S., is designed to do.

In France alone, over 1500 therapists practice sophrology. Is Professor Gastaut of the opinion that they are all charlatans?

Should we wait another twenty or thirty years before we start exploring the potential of paranormal phenomena and the discovery of alpha waves, as happened with other, equally important, discoveries in the past?

Needless to say, the alpha theory should not be used to exploit a credulous and hopeful public. The alpha state is a tool, not an end in itself. Claiming that devices can perform miracles simply by teaching people to enter the alpha state is exploitation, pure and simple. But to say that alpha waves are useless, that the exploration of unknown mental faculties is a waste of time, is just as harmful.

We may deplore people who try to 'make a fast buck' out of anything the public finds new or interesting. Professor Gastaut may be indignant that his beloved electroencephalogram is being used to generate more profit for others than for himself. But the world is changing. Those who will form the new elite are those who are enthusiastic about developing new ideas and perfecting old ones. In short, those who encourage progress. They are not victims, or overly credulous, or naive. They come from all fields of endeavor - psychologists, executives, doctors, researchers, students, mothers of families. And they often approach us after seeing what mental dynamics has done do for someone they know. They feel they can place their trust in us, that we can be their friends. We get letters every day from people who have benefited by learning to control their alpha rhythms and exploit their vast potential for well being while in the alpha state. We can only hope that their numbers keep growing. C.H. Godefroy Alpha Seminar Instructor

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