About three years ago as I was studying to become a hypnotherapist one of my classmates brought one of the extra-credit videos in the school library to my attention. It was called Reverse Speech. This is taking recorded forward speech, playing it backwards, and listening for words, phrases, and full sentences to reveal themselves from the gibberish– and sometimes the reversals literally jump out.
Completely different from the notorious, so-called backward masking originally popularized in rock music, speech reversals are unintentional and uncontrolled. These are certainly not demonic nor even angelic voices insinuating their way into music or speech. Rather these reversals are simply unconscious expressions that somehow the subconscious mind, the nervous system, and a spoken language simultaneously manage to orchestrate. And, more than mere coincidences of sound, speech reversals tend to relate in some way to the forward speech. Upon hearing the more uncanny reversals, chills ran the length of my back– especially when the reversals were my own, or from someone I knew well! Of course, entrenched skeptics will disagree and denigrate–after all, rejection’s their religion, right?– but even as a devil’s advocate myself, I quickly realized how speech reversals would prove to be something of consequence.
Yet, it wasn’t until July of 2011 that I’d have a chance to formally study Reverse Speech with its developer, David John Oates. Since, I’ve discovered some profoundly interesting reversals with friends, and clients, and was recently asked to participate with a team tasked with locating a missing person. The latter resulted in more than five hundred reversals, and some possibly promising leads– dunno the outcome, though. The client has yet to fully follow through. Regardless, I’ve gained a proficiency and a confidence in using this modality, and am constantly astonished at some of the insights that can be gleaned from a pretty simple process.
Naturally, once back from the training I wanted to apply this technology to something of real importance. So, being a fan of motorcycle racing, when interviews of the 2011 MotoGP riders racing at Laguna Seca, in Salinas, California were aired I took the opportunity to query who’s likely to win based on their subconscious state of mind. I couldn’t have been happier with the results.
Below are several transcripts, and recordings. Listen to these and decide for yourself what you hear, or don’t hear. As in the above examples, the forward speech comes first, and then the reversals are played three times– a little slower, slower still, and then very slowly relative to the normal rate of speech. This makes it easier to discern the syllables, vowel and consonant sounds, but is not any sort of sound manipulation. Nothing is altered to create these reversals. You may need to listen a couple of times, but these are all good quality examples. The phrases are there. Finally, if you think the power of suggestion will influence your perception, read the transcripts only after you listen to the sound clips.
Of course, some reversals are more revelatory than others, and with these racers I selected only those that were appropriate to share online. The reversals I’ll be doing with our politicians and public officials in this election year could very well be more candid. Stay tuned.
For now, enjoy these excerpts from the 2011 MotoGP World Championship interviews at Laguna Seca.
Casey Stoner is expressing a cool confidence and absolute congruence in both his forward speech and in his speech reversal. He would begin riding this certainty through a record-breaking season of ten race wins to claim the 2011 MotoGP World Championship some months later.
Forward Speech: “And, I-I waited a few laps to s ee if he’d make a m istake, or see if he’d do sump’in’.”
Reverse Speech: “We can’t be beat.”
And, on the flip-side…
Then reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, who began the season with the same dominance as he maintained in his previous year’s record-setting Championship is now subconsciously realizing his 2011 ambition is unraveling. Lorenzo’s now-faltering consistency is opening the gate for Stoner to steamroll his way to an unchallenged 2011 World Championship.
Forward Speech: “Well, I go, always at the limit. I try my best…when I got onto, onto the bike… in every practice uh…sometimes you can win, sometimes not.”
Reverse Speech: “See, bad we run.”
What’s more, the reporter who is interviewing Lorenzo is inserting his own subconscious prediction of the race results.
Forward Speech: “What is it going to mean for you to, to be ab le to win here, at this particular year?”
Reverse Speech: “Are you at least upset? The race. Now go slow.”
It’s important to note where the reversal occurs because it is considered to complement that part of the forward speech, and in these cases it’s pretty clear how it relates to the phrase where it is articulated. And, speech reversals are not simply phonetic opposites of their forward letter enunciation, they are distinct from the gibberish normally associated with playing speech backwards. Reversals tend to show up in peculiarities of speech– stutters, and stammers, breaths, inflections, and the like. While there are universal reversals, for instance “you know” tends to reverse as “money” most are independent of their forward phrase counterparts. The same forward words will reverse to completely different sentences, person to person, and even with the same speaker, too.
Reversals also retain the patois of the speaker’s locale. For instance, Casey Stoner is from eastern Australia, and I’ve noticed others from the area favor using the word “massive” as a superlative, whereas someone from different region or culture might choose to describe an experience as “tremendous,” “incredible,” “phenomenal,” “grand,” or “epic.” You can be fairly certain you’re listening to a snowboarder instead of an English professor when he describes a day of heli-boarding as an “epic” adventure. And, by the same token it’s more likely that the complimentary phrases, “top drawer,” or “good show” will be spoken by a Brit than by an American. So to that point, as Casey Stoner is asked about the festivities at the famed Laguna Seca raceway, he says…
Forward Speech: “Love this atmosphere.”
Reverse Speech: “It’s a massive love.”
So, a client asked me, “How can you use this Reverse Speech stuff to do some good?” Huh, I guess the implications aren’t as obvious as I’d thought, so I’ll suggest a couple of possibilities.
First, being able to sift through the surface assertions that “everything is okay” while behavior is saying otherwise, and at the same time determining specific underlying motivations offers a roadmap from which it’s then possible to align action with intent. Often athletes just try harder without ever understanding that it’s their internal compass that’s askew. And, most coaches and sport psychologists relying on conscious exchanges tend to overlook the same deeper drivers. Because behavior is subconsciously directed it’s only through communication with this area of mind that allows making just the right suggestions to effect positive change. Reverse Speech can be used to gain quick access to those precise subconscious buttons that when pressed reinforce a winning state of mind. As a hypnotherapist, Reverse Speech is just one more tool for me to use to give my athletes an advantage over the vast majority of others in whatever sport they’re playing, from motor sports to marathon running. Ultimately, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” (Sun Tzu.)
Second, after hearing these reversals– if I were a betting man– I’d have placed a wad of cash on Stoner to win by a wide margin.
Finally, here are few other speech reversals that are reasonably clear. Compare what you hear against the transcript. Know that I’m not proving anything here. I’m just sharing what I’ve found.
Hear a reversal from the Guns n Roses song “Welcome to the Jungle”.
F: “If you got the money honey we got your disease.”
R: “Please the boys and I can plan ahead. I’m on my groove.”
(While I don’t know, my guess is that Axl is describing selling some drugs, getting the band high, and playing a good gig later on.)
Hear another reversal from The Fabulous Thunderbirds song “Wrap it Up”.
F: “Well, no more will I shop around now, baby.”
R: “I want my shallow woman.”
(The complementarity between forward and reverse speech is pretty clear.)
F: “She still needs to keep me in her life to work out whatever.”
R: “I don’t like girls still learning.”
(This was clear…and startlingly accurate.)
F: “You always had a great profile.”
R: “I fucked you.”
(Clear to me. Clear and surprising to the speaker.)