Mind Control Summer Camp
Rhine’s response, that humans don’t learn ESP but rather are born with it, prompted Silva to perform more research based on the result he had seen in his own children. Thirteen years later, the Silva Mind Control Method was founded. It traveled an earnest journey through several decades of weekend workshops and night classes like the one my mother took in Northern New Jersey. My mother is no fool; she wasn’t a hippie or a ne’er-do-well. And yet, despite the strong work ethic of her blue-collar upbringing, she found the Silva classes persuasive and valuable enough to enroll me in the kiddie version even before I could braid my own hair.
I’d like to be able to blame my immersion in today’s personal growth landscape, as a writer and as an intelligent individual, on this choice of hers. But I can’t. The desire to feel exceptionally well, healthy and happy doesn’t get passed down, like old money, from one generation to the next. But it does shape-shift through American culture into provocative and profitable fads, as that populist magical thinking tome “The Secret” has proven. New Thought, New Age, Self-Help, Self-Improvement, Personal Transformation, Personal Growth; the list, and the marketplace, has only grown in the last 100 years. My question is, why?
A recent New York magazine article chronicled this genre’s journey from the margins to the mainstream of publishing with sharp insight. Once the New York publishing world merged self-help with journalism and science writing, the “worried well” became a legitimate readership to target, the article states. In short order, self-help stopped being a joke. To me, marketing strategy doesn’t tell the whole story. I can’t credit my mother’s interest, or my adult interest, or the millions of people who have taken on various Personal Growth systems, whether mindful meditation, positive psychology, even yoga, to the publishing industry’s ability to hook bigger readerships. The truth about why it’s so popular through the ages lies in my mind control summer camp memories. In particular, the direct experience that Silva facilitated for even its youngest participants: the experience of affecting reality. Quite plainly, it is thrilling.
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