A la Version Française
(Recherche sur la technique de Méditation
Transcendantale au sein de l'armée de l'air suédoise)
Zur Deutschen Version
(Forschung über Transzendentale Meditation
bei der Schwedischen Luftwaffe)
Research on Transcendental Meditation at the Swedish Air force
Sensitive test for selection of pilots indicates
Additional retesting studies were made, all confirming that DMT-Neuman detected a stable trait unless the persons did TM.
The conclusion was that TM has indeed a considerable positive and profound effect on deep-seated anxiety causing personality disturbances (trait anxiety). Neuman also concluded that TM would be of great valuable as a preventive measure for ensuring optimal psychological health in Air Force pilots. The introduction of TM as part of the standard training of pilots was therefore recommended by the Four Star Air Force Colonel Hedberg, responsible for national military flight security. But for reasons other than scientific, the High Commander of the Air Force did not decide to integrate TM in the training.
Altogether 13 persons were tested with DMT-Neuman by the Air force. They all underwent, without a single exception, improvements in one year that the best available psychotherapies can achieve only after about 20 times longer time or more - and only so in the best case. This result is unprecedented in the history of psychology as such rapid improvement never has been achieved for this kind of deeply engrained disturbances.
The result also indicates that TM can improve performance significantly under psychologically highly demanding conditions. Also, it indicates that TM can considerably improve stress tolerance in stress-prone people as DMT-Neuman measures a key factor in stress proneness. Differently from common stress treatment and prevention methods, TM apparently affects the fundamental causes of stress sensitivity.
The healing of profound psychological disturbances indicated by the DMT-Neuman study concurs well with other results indicating profound and rapid positive effects of TM on the psychology in cases where conventional methods have been ineffective. This includes considerable improvement of Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Vietnam veterans (4) and considerably reduced recidivism and reduced violence in severe criminals (5, 6). The reason for this remarkable effectiveness seems to be that TM acts on a profound level, apparently transforming the neurophysiological basis for psychological disturbances. A neurophysiological transformation towards higher integration of brain functioning is indicated by improvement of brain wave coherence (7, 8, 9, 10, 11) and alteration of Sensory Evoked Potentials (12).
As the TM technique differs in important respects from meditation techniques and common stress reduction methods, there is no scientific basis for assuming that these results are applicable for other methods.
Ulf Kragh, the inventor of DMT suggested the responses to subliminally presented threatening pictures could be interpreted as projections of psychological states of the subject. However it is difficult to reliably establish the psychological significance of a certain response.
Because of this, Neuman avoided any evaluation of psychological states with his version of DMT. His mission was to develop a stringent quantitative test for selection of Air Force pilots. The Air Force demanded it should have a high reliability and validity. To achieve this, Neuman found it was useful to assess only the presence of Defense Mechanisms. The number of different Defense Mechanisms present and some other stringently quantifiable criteria were used for calculating test points.
In a systematic manner, Neumann developed his evaluation method using mistakes in combat pilot performance as the criterium of validity. He arrived at a correlation above 0,7 between the test points and error-proneness in pilot performance. The validity of this method has been further confirmed in extensive practical use in the Swedish and other air forces. Since the introduction of the test, there has been a very great decrease (to almost zero) of accidents and incidents found to be caused by pilot mistakes. Furthermore, formerly about 55-80% of the pilot trainees failed during training due to inappropriate flight behavior (making mistakes in stressful situations). But after the test was introduced 30 years ago, not a single Swedish pilot trainee has been discarded for this reason, although the pilot trainers systematically expose them for the same stressful situations that made a major part of trainees drop out formerly.
Neuman did additional in-depth studies that further confirmed the validity of his method, demonstrating the connection between presence of defence mechanisms as revealed by his test and traumatic memories. He found that TM first normalized responses associated with recent traumatic memories and then gradually worked backward in the "record" of traumas. Unfortunately, the Air Force decided these reports should be confidential as they revealed intimate personal details of the subjects, some of whom still are active in the Air Force. In assessing anxiety he did not use projective psychology interpretations but objective criteria like galvanic skin responses.
Conclusion: While the Kragh system uses a projective test approach for assessing the psychological response with important uncertainities due to interpretation problems, DMT-Neuman is a scientifically stringent quantitative method determining the amount of defense mechanisms with a high level of validity and reliability.
1. Sandahl, F.P.: The Defence Mechanism Test DMT as a Selection Instrument when Testing Applicants for Training as Military Pilots. Stockholm: Kungl Krigsvetenskapsakademiens Handlingar och Tidskrift (Proceedings and Journal of the Swedish Military Academy) nr 4, p 132-154, 1988.
2. Sandahl, F.P.: Inverkan av tm-utövning på neurotiseringsgrad. Stockholm: Läkartidningen (Journal of the Swedish Medical Association), vol 77, nr 34, p 2808 ff, 1980. (Swedish)
3. Eppley, K.R., Abrams, A.I., and Shear, J. Differential effects of relaxation techniques on trait anxiety: A meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45(6), 957-974, 1989.
4. Brooks JS, Scarano T; Transcendental Meditation in the treatment of Post-Vietnam Adjustment. Journal of Counselling and Development 65:212-215. 1985.
5. Bleick CR, Abrams AI; The Transcendental Meditation Program and Criminal Recidivism in California, Journal of Criminal Justice 15:211-230, 1987.
6. Abrams AJ, Siegel LM, The Transcendental Meditation Program and rehabilitation at Folsom state prison: A cross validation study; Criminal Justice and behaviour 5:3-20, 1978; ALEXANDER CN, Doktorsavh vid Harvard University: "Ego development, personality and behavioural change in inmates practicing the Transcendental Meditation Technique or participating in other programs: A crossectional and longitudinal study. Dissertation Abstracts International 43:539B, 1982
7. Levine, P. Proceedings of the San Diego Biomedical Symposium sid 15 ff, 1976.
8. Dillbeck MC, Bronson EC, International Journal of Neuroscience 14:147-151, 1981.
9. Orme-Johnson DW et al Scientific Research on the Transcendental Meditation Program, Collected Papers vol 3:215, Vlodrop, Holland, MVU Press, 1989.
10. NIDICH R et al, Scientific Research on the Transcendental Meditation Program, Collected Papers vol 4, Vlodrop, Holland, MVU Press, 1989, 2273-2277.
11. TRAVIS, F. T. Eyes open and TM EEG patterns after one and eight years of TM practice. Psychophysiology 28(3a): S58, (Abstract), 1991.
12. LYUBIMOV, N. N. Mobilization of the hidden reserves of the brain. Program Abstracts of the 2nd Russian-Swedish Symposium "New Research in Neurobiology," Brain Research Institute, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Moscow, May 19-21, 1992.