Nonconscious Movements: From Mystical Messages to Facilitated Communication

Nonconscious Movements: From Mystical Messages to Facilitated Communication

Nonconscious Movements: From Mystical Messages to Facilitated Communication

Nonconscious Movements: From Mystical Messages to Facilitated Communication

Excerpt

In 1986 I published a book that traced the history of attempts to raise the intelligence of people with mental retardation. I was interested in the subject because for most of my professional life I had been doing research with people of limited intelligence and found them obstinately resistant to change, yet I kept reading about new pedagogical and psychological methU+0AD- ods for raising intelligence. If intelligence could be raised, then mental retardation could be cured, so I spent 4 years searching through history for the magic elixir. Alas, I found no magic cures; what I found instead was an astonishing variety of human behavior on the part of those making the claims, ranging from outright fraud to honest self-deception.

How was it possible for so many people to make such assertions, all of which proved to be untrue and many of which were obviously outlandish? My curiosity about the subject of external and internal deception was provoked and it remains a continuing interest. For anyone with such an interest there is no paucity of material; the strangest imaginable claims continue to be made. It was natural, therefore, that my curiosity was aroused by recent claims that a new technique called facilitated communication is capable of freeing a heretofore unsuspected inner capacity in people who are severely and profoundly retarded, particularly in those with autism.

Out went the request cards, in went the book orders, and off I trudged to the library. What I found this time surpassed just about anything I had encountered before; a popular delusion was happening not in the past but right before our eyes, presenting an opportunity not to be missed. The unrecognized basis for this latest self-deception is a particular variety of human behavior, involuntary muscle movement, that is natural to all living organisms. The capacity for muscle movement without conscious control is essential for survival, but the failure to understand and appreciate its ubiquity has resulted in a plethora of false beliefs and, of greater concern . . .

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