Nonconscious Movements: From Mystical Messages to Facilitated Communication

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Erlbaum, Jan 1, 1997 - Education - 202 pages
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In a new technique called facilitated communication, noncommunicative individuals who are autistic and mentally retarded are said to type astonishing communications on a keyboard. Despite the abundant evidence that the communications originate from the "facilitators" who hold the hands of the disabled individuals or otherwise have contact with them--and who are unaware and deny that they are guiding the clients' hands--this technique is forcefully defended and indeed is growing in popularity throughout the world.

For many, the popularity of this method in the face of overwhelming negative evidence is surprising and mystifying, but this book portrays facilitated communication as merely the latest in a long line of phenomena described and explained by scientists since the early nineteenth century. Following the evolutionary development of consciousness, nonconscious (involuntary) muscle movements persisted as a favored trait because they freed consciousness for greater information processing. However, this book demonstrates how nonconscious movements can also become unwitting instruments for the expression of ideas, wishful thinking, and inner conflict, in the form of automatic writing, mind reading, swaying pendulums, clever animals, agitated tables, active dowsing sticks, prescient Ouija boards, and most recently, facilitated communication. Unfortunately, nonconscious movements have been recruited by the mind to support wishful thinking and fixed ideas. The field is witnessing an extraordinary example of this recruitment, and consequently it provides rich fodder for scientific study concerning the nature of consciousness and the roles played by self-deception and wishful thinking.

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