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[Steven Halpern] is part of a booming market in self-help audiocassette tapes, in which everybody from Jane Fonda to Dr. Joyce Brothers seems to have something helpful to say. But Halpern and his counterparts are different - theirs are more than just the "spoken word" tapes of authors or experts reading from their own books. No, these Svengalis of self-improvement use the techniques of hypnosis and subliminal persuasion, and claim that frequent listening to their tapes can help you do anything from relieve tension to improve your bowling score.
Most of the tapes, which retail at about $10 each, follow a similar structure. One side, designed to be played at bedtime, aims at bringing the listener into a state of self-hypnosis (a feeling, according to the label of one tape, "not unlike daydreaming") through music and spoken suggestions. The other is the subliminal side, which you're supposed to play as background while you go about your normal activities. But, underneath the pleasant musical pieces which have been composed specifically for these tapes, inaudible voices "embedded" into the recording through a special process are giving your subconscious a little pep talk.
Another key is frequency. [Jonathan Jackson] notes that subliminal effects are often short-lived. You need repeated exposure to the messages - so it's generally recommended that people listen to their tapes at least once a day for the first 30 days and then for two or three days a week afer that. Newsday / Bernie Cootner Some people find the idea of subliminal anything a bit Orwellian. That's understandable, but remember: if you have to be persuaded to use a tape, then the tape probably won't persuade you. "A lot of people want to believe in the treatment before they undergo it," Jackson points out."If you're a believer by nature, it would increase the efficacy of these tapes." But, he adds that established weight-loss or quit-smoking programs, or conventional pscyhotherapy or hypnosis, can be equally effective - if not more so.