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The Emotional Response Indicator

by Peter Shepherd

Psycho-analytical procedures are greatly enhanced by the use of a simple Emotional Response Indicator, a type of psycho-galvanometer. This serves to point out to the practitioner those emotionally "charged" topics that pass through the subject's mind, either consciously or pre-consciously. Without this device the practitioner is relying solely on body language; with the device, therapeutic procedures are so much more effective that it is now possible to use powerful techniques much more efficiently and successfully, and even to apply them upon oneself as the subject. The Monitor operates by the Galvanic Skin Response of the body.

The Galvanic Skin Response

The simple psycho-galvanometer was one of the earliest tools of psychological research. A psycho-galvanometer measures the resistance of the skin to the passage of a very small electric current. It has been known for decades that the magnitude of this electrical resistance is affected, not only by the subject's general mood, but also by immediate emotional reactions. Although these facts have been known for over a hundred years and the first paper to be presented on the subject of the psycho-galvanometer was written by Tarchanoff in 1890, it has only been within the last 25 years that the underlying causes of this change in skin resistance have been discovered.

The Tarchanoff Response is a change in DC potential across neurons of the autonomic nervous system connected to the sensori-motor strip of the cortex. This change was found to be related to the level of cortical arousal. The emotional charge on a word, heard by a subject, would have an immediate effect on the subject's level of arousal, and cause this physiological response. Because the hands have a particularly large representation of nerve endings on the sensori-motor strip of the cortex, hand-held electrodes are ideal. As arousal increases, the "fight or flight" stress response of the autonomic nervous system comes into action, and adrenaline causes increased sweating amongst many other phenomena, but the speed of sweating response is nowhere near as instantaneous or accurate as the Tarchanoff response.

The most advanced layers of the cortex, unique to Man, link to the thumb and forefinger especially, and there is a further complex physiological response that occurs when the forebrain is aroused. Changes in Alpha rhythms cause blood capillaries to enlarge, and this too affects resistance.

By virtue of the Galvanic Skin Response, autonomic nervous system activity causes a change in the skin's conductivity. The overall degree of arousal of the hemispheres, and indeed the whole brain, is shown by the readings of the GSR psychometer, which does not differentiate between the hemispheres, or between cortical and primitive brain responses. Higher arousal (such as occurs with increased involvement) will almost instantaneously (0.2 - 0.5 sec) cause a fall in skin resistance; reduced arousal (such as occurs with withdrawal) will cause a rise in skin resistance.

Thus a rise or fall relates directly to reactive arousal, due to re-stimulation of repressed mental conflict. Initially this may cause a rise in resistance as this emerging, previously repressed, material is fought against. When the conflict is resolved, by the viewing of objective reality - the truth of exact time, place, form and event - there is catharsis and the emotional charge dissipates; the release of energy giving a fall in resistance.

The Being or "Higher Self" is involved, because it is the Being that knows the objective truth and therefore is in conflict with distorted mental contents. The Being, however, is not part of the brain; it is a quality not a quantity, and is essentially not anywhere, except by consideration. The Being is a non-verbal knowingness that lies back of mental awareness and activity, but which is capable of influencing the composite human being, through will and creative choice, by postulate.

Jung and Mathison

One of the first references to the use of GSR instruments in psychoanalysis is in the book by Carl Gustav Jung, entitled "Studies in Word Analysis", published in 1906. Here the Swiss psychologist describes a technique of connecting the subject, via hand-electrodes, to an instrument measuring changes in the resistance of the skin. Words on a list were read out to the subject one by one. If a word on this list was emotionally charged, there was a change in body resistance causing a response of the biofeedback indicator (needle or LEDs) of the galvanometer. Any words that evoked a larger than usual response on the meter were assumed to be indicators of possible areas of conflict in the patient, and these areas were then explored in more detail with the subject in session. Jung used observed deflections on the meter as a monitoring device to aid his own judgment in determining which particular lines of enquiry were most likely to be fruitful with each subject.

Without amplification, this device was difficult to use, thus it remained as little more than a laboratory curiosity until the development of sophisticated valve amplifiers in the 1930s. Once a portable psycho-galvanometer with amplification was available, the idea of using a psycho-galvanometer was picked up with enthusiasm by criminologists. These meters became known as "lie detectors", and have been used by various police forces, in this manner, for more than 60 years. On the other hand, little further work was done in psychotherapy with the psycho-galvanometer, until Biofeedback Research in the 1970s using the psycho-galvanometer in connection with meditation and relaxation became popular.

Biofeedback is the technique of self-regulation of awareness states by the subject. The level of cortical arousal is central to a person's level of awareness, so a machine that can measure this factor is of the first importance in biofeedback. Many papers have been presented on this subject over the last 25 years, and the most important findings of this research are:

  1. A low level of cortical arousal is desirable for relaxation, hypnosis, and the subjective experience of psychic states and unconscious manifestations.
  2. A high level of cortical arousal gives increased powers of reflection, focused concentration, increased reading speed, and increased capacity for long-term recall.
  3. Cortical arousal has a simple relationship to skin conductivity. Arousal of the cortex increases the conductivity of the skin and conversely, a drop in arousal causes a drop in skin conductivity. With a sensitive meter the level of arousal can be brought under conscious control. With a few hours' practice the level of arousal can be consciously controlled over wide limits.

Volney Mathison was a pioneer in the discovery that all fears, feelings and resentments - all thought and emotion - were electrical in their nature. He found through experiments with lie-detectors during the 1940s that when a person was reminded of certain past events, or when a change of mood was induced in him, the biofeedback indicator (needle or LEDs) in the meter would jump erratically; the degree of jump was in proportion to the strength of unconscious reaction. In skilled hands the meter could be used to locate a particular mental content, the nature of that content, the location of that content in space and time, and the amount of force contained within it.

His researches with lie-detectors in the 1940's made it possible for Volney Mathison to go on and invent the modern type of portable transistorised Emotional Response Indicator - a type that has survived with very little change, until the present day. The Hubbard E-meter was based on its design; contrary to propaganda, these early types of meter worked well. Mathison went on to develop a word-list to be used in conjunction with the Emotional Response Indicator. He would ask the subject under analysis, to take hold of the meter-electrodes, then he would read this list of words to him. Without fail, some of these words would trigger a response on the meter, and in some cases violently. Whenever this was the case, Mathison knew that these words were associated with violent and negative fear or resentment that had its origin in unconscious (reactive) complexes in the subject's mind. Most of the time, the subject was completely unaware that he was reacting on the meter in this way.

Reversal Theory

It has long been known in biofeedback research, that meditation and relaxation procedures cause a rise in skin resistance. It has therefore been assumed that high and low skin resistance correlate directly with relaxation and stress respectively, and that a high resistance indicates a pleasant relaxed state of mind, whereas low resistance indicates tension. However, the reverse is true in a psychotherapy session. When repressed material is coming to the surface (e.g. material associated with guilt or pain), the skin resistance rises and the client experiences feelings of tension; thus in a therapy session, high skin resistance indicates tension, and not relaxation as in meditation. Then, when the repressed material reaches the surface and the negative emotion discharges, there is usually a sudden large drop in skin resistance and the client experiences relief. This demonstrates a correlation between low skin resistance and relaxation of tension, which is in contradiction to the pattern of research findings in meditation.

This contradiction has been noted by Dr. Apter of Bristol University in his book "Reversal Theory". He refers to this as Paradoxical Arousal. His discoveries are that high arousal can be pleasant and exciting when a person is in the (active) Paratelic state, whereas high arousal is experienced as unpleasant in the (thinking) Telic state.

Apter's findings are that a person with a heavy traumatic history experiences high arousal as unpleasant, because the cortical arousal is unequal due to reactivation. It can be demonstrated in many cases that one hemisphere is aroused more than the other. In contrast, when cortical arousal is uniform this is experienced as a pleasant state of high energy.

This is similar to Freud's early findings, that high arousal in a neurotic is experienced as internal excitement, which is unpleasant, whereas a person who is substantially free from neurosis experiences arousal as energy for incitement, i.e. energy for action. Our findings substantiate Freud's early findings. Proportional to a client's erasure or transcendence of traumatic material there is an increased capacity to operate at high arousal, in a relaxed state without discomfort, and at a high emotional tone.

In order to resolve the paradox, I suggest that it would be more effective to correlate high and low skin resistance, not with "relaxation" and "stress" but with "withdrawal and "involvement" respectively; both these terms can refer either to a relaxed or to a tense state. The state of withdrawal is relaxed when it means detachment from worldly cares or abandoning responsibility (Telic); and withdrawal is experienced as tense when it means an inability to confront repressed material (Paratelic).

Involvement is experienced as tense when it means over-reach or anxiety (Telic), and is experienced as relaxed when it means enhanced awareness, or when there is a flash of insight and the sudden clearing away of a mental blockage caused by repressed material (Paratelic). A client who is involved in the session of analysis will be in the Paratelic state; if he goes "out-of-session" this will be a reversal to the Telic state:

It is for the above reasons that a 'fall' of the meter biofeedback indicator (needle or LEDs), i.e. a fall in resistance and an increase in arousal, is usually more useful than a 'rise,' i.e. an increase in resistance and a decrease in arousal, when a list is being assessed to find a case entry point - the most appropriate item to handle. Usually, unless the arousal is too high due to overwhelm or terror, the fall response indicates involvement, hence increased awareness and the ability to access and confront charged material. However, when the response rises in response to a particular word or concept, this indicates withdrawal; it indicates in most cases that the client does not wish to take responsibility for this area of address.

Towards, Against & Away

Suppressed emotional conflict causes a build-up of stuck energy in the mind, where conflicting flows (such as 'must do' versus 'can't do') form a mass or 'ridge' of energy. When such material is reactivated by events or by bringing up that topic in a psychotherapeutic session, the Emotional Response Indicator may respond in several ways. If the material is too hard to experience or confront, it is repressed and there will not be an instantaneous response on the meter, but as the energy builds up the client becomes dissociated and falls in arousal as a defense, and there is an increase of basal resistance. The ridge will remain in reactivation but out of consciousness, until attention is directed to the item and it is confronted. This is a flight away from the material.

If the client is able to view the material, some of the suppressed emotional charge is released, causing a fall in resistance. This happens instantly and means that the material is accessible to the client. However the mental defenses may kick in and cause a backing off or resistance to the material, because its content may be hard to face with equanimity. This stops the release of charge and the resistance may then rise. The material is still accessible but the client is fighting against it.

A rise, then, relates to material that is being confronted but is also fought against. If viewed directly, the contents may overwhelm the client, and the client moves away from it in fear, which causes a high emotional arousal and fall in resistance, followed by a blocking off of the material and subsequent rise in resistance and suppression of the experience. This is what might happen outside the safety and guiding control of a therapist. But if the material is discharged gradually and safely by appropriate therapeutic techniques, the client becomes able to move toward the material, confronting and experiencing it openly, and gradually letting go of his defenses against it. The release of charge - energy previously used in suppression - increases arousal and there is a fall in resistance that is experienced pleasurably. The client is able to integrate the experience and so is not fighting it or fleeing from it but rather going towards it.

To understand the functioning of the GSR it helps to know a little of the working of the brain's limbic system, which includes the amygdala and the hypothalamus. The amygdala and hypothalamus between them can generate sex drive, hunger, thirst, rage and euphoria. The hypothalamus is largely responsible for homeostasis, ensuring that all the various parameters of body functioning are in balance. It continually monitors the blood: if there is too little or too much carbon dioxide, it reduces or increases breathing; if blood sugar is low, it makes you feel hungry; if your temperature is too low or too high, it initiates shivering or sweating; if the blood is too salty, it makes you feel thirsty; and so on. The hypothalamus directs these responses through the autonomic nervous system of the body, as well as triggering cortical arousal through the Reticular Activating System (RAS), a process that is enormously important because of its role in arousal and awareness. Two especially important responses are the fight-or-flight response, which is accompanied by a decrease in skin resistance (as indicated by a fall on the Emotional Response Indicator); and the relaxation response, which is accompanied by an increase in resistance (a rise on the Emotional Response Indicator).

A survival function of the amygdala is in detecting danger or emotion associated with incoming stimuli. Past experiences were stamped within the brain as being dangerous or emotionally significant. If the amygdala detects incoming stimuli that match these stamps, then it will alert us to potential danger before sending the stimuli on to the appropriate processing center. The amygdala learns its repertoire during childhood and this is supplemented at later times of physical or emotional trauma. Le Doux suggests that it is the amygdala that lays down and 'records' unconscious memory, whilst it is the hippocampus that 'records' conscious memory. It appears that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - in which present circumstances cause a person to be forcefully reminded of a past painful incident and to suffer extreme emotional disturbance - is mediated by the amygdala. The painful memories were imprinted at the highest states of arousal, with increased levels of stress hormones and neurotransmitters. The sufferer will typically experience only fragments of the experience ("flashbacks"), but with the full force of the original emotion.

The trigger of these flashbacks can be practically anything connected with the original event: an accent, a sound, a picture, etc as well as a relevant question that reminds of the incident. This sensory input is sent to both the cortex and the amygdala at the same time. The response of the amygdala is almost immediate and that of the cortex is much slower. This causes the 'instant' reaction of the GSR fall response in comparison to the slow and delaid response to normal cognitive thoughts originating from the cerebral hemispheres. So we know whether the GSR response to a question is from either the amygdala or the cortex by whether it produces an instant read or a slower, latent read.

FAQ about Galvanic Skin Response

Q: From my reading it looks like the amygdala is the part of the brain that is the source of peoples issues. So are we in effect "clearing the amygdala"? I think that this understanding of the amygdala could be a bridge for more acceptance of the Emotional Response Indicator if practitioners understood what it was actually detecting or measuring. More than just a simple biofeedback device, the Emotional Response Indicator is a tool to catch amygdala responses in real time during a session, and gives the practitioner the opportunity to drill down and find these buried issues.

A: It seems that this is indeed the "heavy reactivation" mechanism responsible for instant cathartic responses on the Emotional Response Indicator - though I think other parts may be responsible for other types of instant increase of arousal, corresponding to insight or intuition, and other fast cognitive processes. So are we "clearing the amygdala"? Yes, where and when that is necessary - and more, with balanced personal growth we are restoring proper communication and hemispheric synchronization across the corpus callosum, and revising the conditioned behavior patterns in the cerebellum (that also function at a very high rate compared to the cerebral processes), and increasing frequency and arousal of the forebrain for insight and intention (the gamma frequencies above 40 Hz). So it all works together, as you'd expect.

Q: What is your basis of assumptions that values lower than 5K ohms indicate a high level of brain arousal ( tense level) and values higher than 25K ohms indicate low arousal and withdrawal from the mind (calm level)?

A: The use and callibration of the Emotional Response Indicator is based on experience with many subjects undergoing psychotherapy. When a topic is encountered that causes tension, such as the remembering of a traumatic experience, the basal resistance falls, sometimes quite dramatically. Similarly a 'fall' occurs if some information that is withheld is nearly being found out, or if a serious upset is being recollected (from current experience or the past). There are many other such 'case' issues that cause this instantaneous meter response.

At the point of overwhelm by such emotional arousal, the resistance measures about 5K ohms; below that the person is unable to look further at the topic or experience. What can happen then is a complete shut-off where the resistance climbs up to 25K ohms or beyond; the person is in a state of dissociation, unable to confront the issue and in this 'safer' space, may feel subjectively better, although still suffering from the repressed undercurrents of the issue being addressed. This highly suggestible state is similar to that achieved by deep hypnosis or certain meditatation practices where consciousness is much reduced. (Note that Monroe techniques that attain a 'mind awake-body asleep' state do not suffer from this dissociation and accompanying high basal resistance, and neither do truly enhancing meditation techniques).

A client may indeed begin in this low consciousness state, with a high basal resistance, and as the right topic is found and he is gradually directed to confront the issues or experience involved, the resistance will lower. With guidance, though, he will not become overwhelmed but be able to look fully at the experience and become neither tense nor overly relaxed about it, as he realizes how his subsequent thoughts had not been rational, resulting in the bad feelings associated with it. So a mid-range resistance is the healthiest state.

Normally, though, when an issue is first brought to a client's attention, the subject itself will cause an increase in arousal (instantaneous drop in resistance) that is 'reactive', i.e. a stimulus-response reaction from the pre- or Subconscious - this suppressed emotion one can call 'charge'. Then he will back off from it somewhat, causing a rise in resistance. Then, as it is therapeutically addressed, the resistance moves back to a mid-range position. With competent therapy, a client is not so badly overwhelmed when addressing the issue that the resistance 'falls out the bottom' as described above.

So you can see that the Emotional Response Indicator is a valuable aid in the psychotherapeutic process, both in detecting the most 'highly charged' issue to address (usually the most accessible, though with suppressed emotional undercurrents); and also to guide the handling of the issue, leading to an equanimity in facing up to it fully.

In the optimal balanced state it is also found that left and right brain hemispheres are equally aroused and phase-synchronous in their wavelengths. There are no suppressed 'fight or flight' emotions and at the same time there is full involvement and alertness. States of genuine 'high consciousness' that are not dissociative but are insightful are indicated by balanced hemispheric arousal and also alertness

There is more to states of 'high consciousness' than left/right brain synchrony. Peak experiences, states of release from previous suppression, OOB, lucid and transcendent experiences, all involve 'unusual' brain-wave patterns - the balance of delta, theta, alpha and beta frequencies - that mirror the state of consciousness. Monroe brain-wave entrainment brings about hemispheric synchrony but also affects the brain-wave pattern. For example, OOB and lucid dreaming experiences may be triggered by attaining the mind awake-body asleep state: the mind is kept awake by beta stimuli even while the body sleeps due to delta waves, and visualization is stimulated by alpha frequencies. Certain patterns may be measured (using real-time EEG equipment) in successful meditators that show that they are not dissociated or mentally switched-off (with corresponding high basal resistance) but instead they retain full alertness and attentiveness even though the body is deeply relaxed.

Q: How and where you get these values? (experiment,statistical analysis and etc.)?

A: The range 5K-25K is from practical observation of many clients; below 5K and above 25K the client is less able to address any issue objectively.

Q: Can you site the medical explanation on how skin resistance is being measured?

A: The level of brain arousal affects emotional state and fortuitously this affects skin resistance - a symptom convenient to measure through two electrodes in contact with the skin, across any two points on the body. For example, the two points may be adjacent on one hand or across from one hand to the other. If an EEG is used simultaneously, you will observe the increase of brain arousal corresponding to the changes of measured skin resistance. The best point at which to measure skin resistance is the thumb and forefinger because this part of the body is most heavily represented neurologically in the evolutionarily advanced thought centers of the brain used to manipulate objects, and therefore closely in touch with will, left brain focused action and right brain contextual holding.

Q: Can you give other reasons for the occurrence of tensions?

A: The initial 'backing off' of reduced confront (rising resistance) is the result of denial of responsibility in the area addressed, a feeling of being at receipt of another's cause. The aim of the case handling is to turn this around so that the person takes responsibility for his own decisions, actions and feelings; this increased confront results in a mid-range resistance. The kind of things that can make a person feel at effect are painful experiences and outcomes, suppression of needs and wants, withheld communication, frustration through attempted manipulation of another, or another refusing to listen, or a problem that seems insurmountable. When emotional tension is suppressed, it doesn't go away, it festers and affects rational thought. When the suppressed topic is touched on again in therapy, it will be clearly visible as an instantaneous fall in resistance, corresponding to arousal of the sympathetic nervous system 'fight/flight' response, and visible on the meter through the psychogalvanic response affecting skin resistance. Relaxation of this tension occurs much more slowly through the parasympathetic nervous system, as homeostasis is restored.

A useful illustration of how tension and relaxation need to be balanced for optimal functioning is seen in the sexual response. Sexual arousal is a parasympathetic function and so is destroyed by tension, such as may be caused by anxiety or upset and the associated suppression of feelings and communications. At the same time there has to be enough tension - interest and involvement - for sexual arousal to occur, so a dissociated withdrawn state is equally unfunctional. When these issues are resolved sexual function returns to normal.

Q: What biological component(s) of our body carries the skin resistance?

A: The skin is just the surface contact with electrodes; in fact it is the entire body resistance that is being measured, and this is affected by nervous system responses as a whole - it isn't just a response of increased conductivity caused by increased sweat emission. In addition the nervous system is an electrical system affected by the more subtle energies of the body's chakra system as well as thought energies and communication flows and blockages. The mind and the spiritual consciousness (to a greater or lesser extent) directing it is not merely contained in the physical brain; rather the nervous system is a conduit between the etheric or metaphysical and the glandular and muscular actions of the body. The body, too, has its own dynamics, genetically based and centered on survival, and this body-mind interacts with the etheric; indeed in many persons it is dominant.

Q: My currently area of study is looking into the advantages and disadvantages of having a high and low cortical arousal. You mention that many papers have been written on this subject in the last 25 years. I was wondering if you could specify some of these papers and information sources so that I can expand my knowledge in this area.

A:The nitty-gritty of it is that very low arousal (high basal resistance) is over-relaxed, effectively switched off. Very high arousal (low basal resistance) is a state of extreme anxiety and overwhelm. Optimum mental functioning occurs mid-way between the two, varying as appropriate between more aroused (focused, enthused, alert) and less aroused (relaxed, enjoying). Lowered arousal after a state of anxiety can of course be a welcome relief. We can think things over. But low arousal can after a while become boring and then we look for a new activity, goal, or involvement. We reverse our state of arousal in this way quite frequently. My book 'Transforming the Mind' talks about this Reversal Theory in more depth.

Q: Certain contradictory information has come to light on the web regarding the use of these GSR meters. The usual disclaimer states that the meter is not for the use of people with mental or psychological conditions. This would mean that the meter is only for use by people who do not really have any problems i.e. more medicine for the healthy. Using your meter should be able to work surely on anyone with problems located in the reactive mind.

A: There are reactive functions in the mind, i.e. stimulus-response. An example is when a reminder occurs in the present time of an earlier traumatic experience, in which case there is an emotional response. The Emotional Response Indicator responds to changes in body resistance caused by emotional responses. Heightened emotional arousal - the "stress response" - energizes the autonomic nervous system. Due to the Tarchanoff effect this results in an immediate reduction in body resistance, the factor which the Emotional Response Indicator measures; this is the biofeedback "fall". Besides trauma, other thoughts and memories can cause emotional excitement, especially excitement, annoyance, anticipation or sexual arousal. After arousal, the nervous system relaxes and body resistance reduces again, displaid by the meter as a rise.

The above principles apply just the same to normally well people as to psychotic patents; it makes no difference who. Psychotherapy or personal development practitioners often refuse to apply Emotional Response Indicatoring to medically ill persons because they are not qualified to be responsible for possible medical outcomes of an ill person; that is the field of psychiatrists and doctors in general. A doctor or psychiatrist may nevertheless refer a patient to a psychotherapist for therapeutic treatment that may include sessions monitored by GSR equipment. The equipment is neutral, it has no direct effect on the patient, same as EEG or MRI scans - it simply measures the person as an aid to tell the practitioner what is happening to the subject in terms of brain arousal. It doesn't itself stimulate arousal, nor relax arousal. It can be useful as biofeedback to help a patient reduce stress and that is another application, indeed the most widely used application of Emotional Response Indicators.

Q: The GSR meter is supposed to be simple to use and will indicate anything that a person has an issue with. Allowing you to then focus on that area and eventually define the exact problem. People all over the web are saying that these meters in general are not accurate and are influenced more by heat and pressure and all sorts of external physical events.

A: Firstly I should point out that using a meter is only appropriate for people in normal health, since if they are neurotically or psychotically unwell, emotional arousal may be overwhelming for the person and they therefore need to be treated in the context of a personal, one-to-one professional support. An ill person is not capable of taking responsibility for a self-directed session of in-depth introspection. That is just common sense procedure.

The Emotional Response Indicator is certainly as accurate as it needs to be: the biofeedback gives a clear visual response when emotional arousal increases. The sensitivity is variable, so the length of this indication is user-determined. Heat makes no difference except if the hands are sweaty then body resistance will be lower, but that is irrelevant: it is the change in arousal that is significant. Same if pressure is exerted, a change of resistance will result; but it is evident (particularly with the meter used by oneself) that the cause of that was a body movement, not an emotional response to an emotionally charged thought, memory or trigger word. There really is no problem, and yes, a Emotional Response Indicator IS simple to use. Critics have either misunderstood how to use a meter or have never used one.

Q: This relates to 'medicine for the healthy' and a lot of the positive feedback for these meters in general. Relatively successful people are having great success with these meters. These people are already functioning, married, hold good jobs but maybe feel a little bit anxious or feel down. Would you give your assurance that your meter is for anyone, is simple to use and read and does what it is supposed to do which is define the problem area within the reactive mind so that it can be cleared, released, resolved. And within what sort of timescale?

A: The InnerTrac - which by the way is not my meter but sold by the Clearing Insitiute proprietor Hank Levin in California - is a particularly well made and reliable meter. It works very well. As I explained above, it's for everyone, but only a person in good shape would be able to use it solo. To resolve a particular issue may take a few minutes or require a much longer handling, depending on how deep the issue is rooted in the person's psyche. A meter may be used for a quick repair, to help a person feel better after a few minutes; likewise it may be used in a long program of in-depth analysis such as the Insight Project which I supervise, which typically takes five years to complete.

The meter is just a tool to help make therapeutic procedures more efficient and effective; the procedures themselves vary greatly. They may be therapeutic, as part of psychotherapy or psychoanalysis (Jung was among the first users of a Emotional Response Indicator for this purpose) - or they may be part of a program of personal growth, from reasonably well and happy on upwards.

Here is a list of some of the papers written on the subject of Galvanic Skin Response...

Guest, Hazel (1990)
Sequential Analysis: monitoring counselling sessions via skin resistance
Counselling Psychology Quarterly, Vol.3, No.1, 1990, pp. 85-91

Toomin, M.K. & Toomin, H. (1975)
GSR biofeedback in psychotherapy: some clinical observation
Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 12(1), pp.33-38

Thayer, R.E. (1989)
The Biopsychology of Mood and Arousal
New York, Oxford University Press

Gale, A. (1989)
The Polygraph test
London, Sage

Stern, R.M., Breen, J.P., Watanabe, T. & Perry, B.S. (1981)
Effect of feedback of physiological information on responses to innocent associations and guilty knowledge
Journal of Applied Psychology, 66(6), pp. 677-681

Lykken, D.T. (1981)
A Tremor in the Blood
(New York, McGraw Hill)

Svebak, S. & Stoyva, J. (1980)
High arousal can be pleasant and exciting: the theory of psychological reversals
Biofeedback and Self-regulation, 5(4), pp. 439-444

Blundell, G. & Cade, C.M. (1979)
Self-awareness and ESR
London, publications department of Audio, Ltd. (electronic engineers).

Seligman, L. (1975)
Skin potential as an indicator of emotion
Journal of Counselling psychology, 22(6), pp. 489-493

Abrams, S. (1973)
The polygraph in a psychiatric setting
American journal of Psychiatry, 130(1), pp. 94-98

Jung, C.G. (1907)
On the Psychophysical relations of the association experiment
Journal of Abnormal psychology, 1, pp. 247-255
Reprinted in the Collected Works, Vol. 2, chapter 12.

Tarchanoff, J. (1890)
Galvanic phenomena in the human skin in connection with irritation of the sensory organs and with various forms pf psychic activity
Pflƒger's Archiv fƒr Physiologie (see ref. in Jung's Collected Works, RKP, Vol 2, paragraph 1038)

Q: I'm wondering about using the ThetaMeter™ Emotional Response Indicator instead of muscle testing for meridians, alarm points, food allergies, etc. Will this device work as a substitute for muscle testing?

A: Hank Levin contributes the following reply...

The mechanism of detection utilized by the ThetaMeter™ Emotional Response Indicator incorporates the deeper knowingness of the client, as does the technique of muscle testing.

That said, there is a diversity of opinions by practitioners of muscle testing about how it actually works. Some consider that it is a very mechanical physiological process, and therefore not only reliable but quite objective (not easily influenced by the practitioner). Others consider that it taps only into the client's deeper consciousness if the test is being done on the client, and into the practitioners consciousness if the test is being done on him/herself, as in some diagnostic procedures. Yet others consider that regardless of who's muscle is being tested, the test taps into both the deeper consciousness of the client and that of the practitioner, and as such, it may be accurate enough to be useful, but not far enough beyond being influenced by either party to be considered totally objective.

In my opinion, though I have seen muscle testing used reliably and effectively, I consider that it is highly reliant on the training and perspectuity of the practitioner. My own chiropractor uses it extensively; however, he is a highly studied professional, and demonstrates abilities in the areas of anatomy and nutrition that are both intellectually impressive and intuitive.

I myself do not have enough knowledge of the systems that incorporate "acupoints" or "meridians" to know how you use them; however, I have done some experimentation with food allergies, as well as toxins and body contaminants. I made up lists of contaminants, starting with the periodic chart of elements; then proceeded to common household and industrial materials and solvents, as well as foods, and assessed those lists on the InnerTrac. I also had other practitioners assess the lists. I was impressed with the results, and I think that much more research needs to be done in this area.

However, I do find that the meter will also read on the client's misunderstanding of a word--if he does not know what "berrylium" is, the meter will read on that word. At that point, the practitioner needs to ascertain whether the meter read on the misunderstood word, or on the knowingness that there is a contaminant present.This is done by simply checking with the meter. On one occasion berrylium--a highly toxic metal--was indeed identified, and was found to be a common hardening alloy in dental fillings.

The meter will also read on the client's protest. For instance, if the client has enough emotional objection to being found allergic to sugar (not unthinkable, as most of us are now addicted to it), it might read on "sugar." This might have to be clarified by the practitioner.

However, I believe muscle testing is subject to the same limitations!

I have also used the meter successfully for gold, silver and mineral prospecting. I ran an assay laboratory for a time in Southern California. The techniques for using the meter in these circumstances is rather similar to its application in health matters. I will be writing a book about that eventually.

In conclusion, I would say that the use of the InnerTrac (or other similar devices) in health assessments is a promising area that deserves much further investigation. It is my conclusion that it's success is very much contingent on the knowledge of the pratitioner (and perhaps to a less extent that of the client) of the information being assessed or investigated. However, even if studies showed that it's use was statistically accurate enough to be useful, because no "scientifically" acceptable explanation can be given for how it works, it would be illegal (and otherwise politically inadvisable) to recommend it for diagnosis of health conditions.

I hope the above information clarifies the reader's understanding, as well as introducing some concepts that will probably be new to most biofeedback exponents. I would be happy to correspond with readers who would like to discuss any of these areas in further depth: mail to Peter Shepherd.

There is more coverage on the use of Emotional Response Indicatoring in psychotherapy and personal development training in the online manual, Transforming the Mind. A complete training course that teaches the use and application of the Emotional Response Indicator is included on the Insight Project.

IMPORTANT! To do the course you will need the ThetaMeter™ Emotional Response Indicator
The Emotional Response Indicator is a type of Emotional Response Indicator specially designed to assist in psycho-therapeutic and personal development procedures. There are many situations in which it is extremely helpful to be able to detect the presence of emotionally charged, suppressed mental content just below or at the borders of subconsciousness. This is a tremendous aid in assessing which of many specific topics is most relevant to be treated and at the same time, such material is also accessible and readily viewable by the subject. This can save many hours of wasted searching and discussion and when you have used an Emotional Response Indicator for a short time you will wonder how it is possible to be effective in developmental therapies without one!

The recommended ThetaMeter™ Emotional Response Indicator costs US$ 497 plus shipping.

The revolutionary ThetaMeter™ is a small, hand held device that measures subtle changes in the electrical resistance of the body that occur in the presence of stress and emotional arousal, including changes that are below the awareness of the client, i.e. subconscious stimulations. Therefore it is a form of Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) monitor. It is carefully designed to serve as a valuable guide in a remarkable number of healing modalities--from EFT, TFT and EMDR to traumatic incident reduction-- and is ideal for use on The Insight Project. It allows one to detect and pinpoint the presence of emotional "charge," and verify the progress of its resolution - a tremendous advantage for the practitioner. Note: on The Insight Project you are both the practitioner and the client at the same time, i.e. it is a self-delivered method of personal development.

The ThetaMeter™ will detect the presence of, and measure the progressive release of, negative emotions. This makes it invaluable for guiding the practitioner through the successive steps of any effective therapy or application of positive psychology. Furthermore, with skill - and ful training is provided as part of the Insight Project - the Emotional Response Indicator can be used to assess a number of likely or possible issues, and ascertain the one with the most "charge" at the moment that is most accessible to be effectively handled. It will also show when you - the client - is upset; and it will indicate when you are "released" from the issue being handled.

eagleThe most advanced approach to personal spiritual discovery and the enhancement of consciousness applies the techniques of 'The Insight Project' - meaning "to transcend or rise above programming."

This is an in-depth exploration of the belief systems that make up the various facets of your personality, and therefore determine your identity (and hidden conflicting identities) and corresponding life goals. The intuitive wisdom of the emotions is accessed using simple biofeedback equipment, providing a path to full realization of the Higher Self - the spiritual power of life, love and truth.

You will find online a full introduction to the subject, which explains how it is possible for you to re-discover the Higher Self - that is, the real you. From the more objective, bird's-eye view that is the Higher Self, it becomes possible to rise above the programming imprinted by the experiences and cultural conditioning of your current lifetime and beyond, as well as the programs genetically inherited. These insights bring wisdom: acceptance and understanding. One is no longer limited to an ego-centric identity, in contrast to one's true potential of unlimited love, life and truth.

"In my view, The Insight Project is without doubt the safest, soundest and most powerful method of self-development available. After searching for countless years and unsuccessfully trying many different approaches, I've finally found my path. Peter's personal coaching has made possible for me to achieve in a few months what I thought would take a lifetime."
--E. Espinar-Mick (USA)

The Insight Project is a set of analytical procedures that you apply to yourself, with the aid of Emotional Response Indicatoring, in order to differentiate the spiritual part of your being from the mental and physical. Discover your Higher Self and its capability of Full realization.

It is necessary to use a GSR biofeedback monitor to do The Insight Project: we recommend the ThetaMeter™ Emotional Response Indicator, in our opinion the best.