The Journal for Audiology and Speech Pathology
By Marc Iskowitz
A ‘hidden language’ that provides a window into the depths of a patient’s consciousness may help clinicians diagnose and treat a variety of disorders, according to Karen Boone, OMD, PhD.
Dr. Boone, a certified Reverse Speech™ master analyst who is vice president of Reverse Speech Enterprises, Inc., in Bonsall, CA, and has a private practice, called Reverse Speech therapy an alternative modality that can be used as an adjunct to other modes of therapy for a variety of problems, such as stuttering, insomnia and depression. She received her certification in Reverse Speech through the Reverse Speech Enterprises training program.
Company founder David John Oates, certified in hypnotherapy and neurolinguistic programming, discovered the phenomenon and developed the technology over a period of 15 years. He and Dr. Boone, who is also a licensed acupuncturist, believe that Reverse Speech emanates from the right brain, although scientific proof of this has not yet been validated.
“Our brains create the sounds of our speech to communicate two messages at the same time-one forward (overt) from the conscious mind and one in reverse (covert) from the unconscious mind,” Dr. Boone said. Speech “reversals” reveal what a person is thinking or feeling at the time of speaking and are complementary with the forward dialogue.
The Reverse Speech dialect expresses itself through thousands of unconscious metaphors that can be heard when typical speech is tape-recorded and played in reverse. Reversals appear in concise metaphor approximately 80 percent of the time, she said. The metaphors represent pictorial descriptions of the unconscious workings of the mind.
Dr. Boone and Oates attached meaning to these speech language patterns. The metaphors depict the core causes and symptoms of behavior, they claim. Discussions, hypnosis and visualizations are used to change these pictures and alter dysfunctional behavior patterns.
The practitioners often work together in treating patients. She conducts acupuncture diagnosis and treatment, and he analyzes the client’s Reverse Speech. The addition of herbs and massage enhance the therapy by helping to move stagnant energy.
In an initial 30-minute Reverse Speech session, they ask clients such questions as “What is going on in your life?” and “How long have you felt that way?”
The identification of metaphors is accomplished subjectively by listening to the speech on a Reversing Machine™, a cassette player that has been modified to play both forward and backward at variable speeds. To isolate the metaphors Oates compiled a Reverse Speech Metaphor Dictionary, which is added to regularly.
“Many times we don’t know what the metaphors mean until we hear them used again and again in the same way,” Dr. Boone stated.
The purpose of Reverse Speech therapy is to analyze the metaphors and shift dysfunctional patterns. Understanding metaphors and how they interrelate explains the source of many problems, she said.
Identifying the means to heal the problem metaphors and ascertaining that they have healed may require three or four 15-minute tapings. Once the metaphors are identified, the clinicians work with the patient to “heal” the dysfunctional ones and reinforce those that are healthy, which is called Metaphor Restructuring™. A complete round of treatment typically consists of 10 or 12 sessions over a period of several months.
For example, the reversal “My wolf is sick” contains the metaphor for the motivator or protector of the psyche. According to Dr. Boone, the wolf is a prime structural metaphor first described by Carl Jung. Clients who subconsciously utter this metaphor lack motivation.
Similarly, she said, the reversal “My wolf has fallen in the lake” means the client?s motivation and ambition in life are drowning in a sea of emotion. Through unconscious restructuring, patients can “heal” this metaphor by identifying with the sick wolf and then being guided through metaphoric imagery suggested in their own reversals. As the metaphor or unconscious script changes, so will their behavior.
An example of a positive reversals is “My goddess shines her light,” meaning “I have hope for the future, and it looks very bright.”
A reversal containing the phrase “I will” or “I shall” constitutes a future tense reversal, which will come to fruition unless something is done to change the programming, Dr. Boone said.
She and Oates use trance work with patients to restructure dysfunctional metaphors and change the scenario. Initially, in an awake state the practitioners ask their clients what they need to heal their goddess or wolf; then they conduct a trance following the instructions revealed in the reversals.
“Clients might say, ‘I have no idea what I need in order to heal,'” Dr. Boone said, “but the reversal will generally be there.”
She and Oates have used Reverse Speech therapy, in combination with other modalities, to successfully treat stuttering, insomnia, asthma and depression, which is one of the most common problems. Clients who initially seek treatment for psychological issues also have reported relief from certain kinds of pain, including fibromyalgia, arthritis and recurring headaches.
Reverse Speech also can describe the state of physical and emotional health, according to Dr. Boone.
“Reversals are not governed by the exact words spoken but by the sounds of speech,” she said. The same sentence spoken by two people probably will yield different reversals because subtle variations in speech alter the reversed sounds. Nuances of speech such as sighs and laughter also can reveal reversals.
When played in reverse, normal human speech contains messages that crop up at an average of every five to 15 seconds, Dr. Boone noted. Spotting reversals requires training the ears to hear a variety of tones. Novices may not always find reversals on their own, but they are “quite clear once located. If another person cannot substantiate a reversal, it’s probably imagined.”
Forward and backward modes of speech combine to communicate the total psyche of a person, she said. In children backward speech develops about six to 12 months before forward speech.
She has recordings of single-word reversals such as “hello,” “hungry” and “Mommy” in children as young as 4 months. Their reversals have an ethereal tone to them, said Dr. Boone. “It’s like a chorus of many voices speaking the same words.”
As people age, their personalities tend to fragment, she said. Their messages rarely are united in a single sentence like children’s; rather, they are expressed through a multitude of sentences occurring at multiple levels.
Individuals can self-administer a simple form of Reverse Speech therapy, said Boone. “It’s a phenomenal self-help tool.” However, “you typically will not hear your deepest reversals on yourself. If the problem is something you have taken years to repress, the ears are not eager to hear it. Generally you hear the most superficial reversals initially, accessing deeper levels in time.”
There are probably 10,000 Reversing Machines in existence, Dr. Boone estimated. Although more people are studying and utilizing the therapy, “the field is still in its infancy. It’s too early to state as scientific law, but the validity of Reverse Speech does seem to be borne out by experience.”