From International Viewpoints (IVy) Issue 17 - June 1994
See Home Page at http://www.ivymag.org
Meters: What do they measure
By Peter Shepherd, Ireland
The following letter from James Moore, England resulted in the
following article by Peter Shepherd.
Dear Gregory and Peter,
I read with interest your articles in IVy 14 and 15. Apparently
if items read one way on the Bilateral Meter they give excellent
results when run with standard techniques, and if they read the other
way, they give poor results, despite both types of Bilateral reads
giving the same sort of read on a standard meter. Excellent. With
so many millions of people to clear, saving time on auditing is no
mean gain. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Secondary is why things read either left or right. But I am
curious. Having stated observations, would one of your care to
something of why the Bilateral Meter should read this way?
I was 30 years in scn, and my understanding gained there can be summed
1) The meter does not read on sweat on the hands,
and people who state so are dumb idiots. I can agree with the first
part, and feel the second part lacks a load of one of the most
things in scn, granting of beingness.
2) The meter reads on the resistance of the body,
which is a tone arm of 2 for a female, and 3 for a male (in those
cases where one is in doubt whether someone is homosexual, perhaps
one should kill the person, to eliminate the mind's influence, and
see where their Tone Arm is). Apart from the sex difference, I
can agree with this - the sex difference suggests that all
the body substance of a man is different from a woman.
3) Additionally the mind influences the meter and
it does so by moving mental masses in and out, or mocking up and
masses. Thus if you key out or asis a mental mass you get a fall on
the ordinary meter, and if you keep on keying things in, you get a
continuing rise and a high Tone Arm.
No 3 seemed marvellous when I first met it. Later I became extremely
puzzled by what was happening with mental masses to produce a rock
slam or a theta bop. Mass must be moving in and out in a most peculiar
Then you get the fact, which I can remember being observed 15 or
20 years ago by fellow students: a meter with solo cans read a
different TA when held in one hand than in the other (that, of course,
is a rudimentary and ineffective Bilateral meter). Since with solo
cans the circuit through the body only went through a very minor
of the hand, then the mental mass must be mocked up to include that
part of the hand and be different for the left and right hand.
Likewise, on a Bilateral meter, a read to left or right must indicate
that when the person was asked the question, there was a change in
the relationship of the mass in the relevant part of the right and
left solo cans. To my mind that must be a very little area, the
(insulation) between the two electrodes being very small.
So, while admiring you for your research efforts, and the fact that
you have apparently shortened the 'bridge' for the newcomer
by avoiding running non productive items, my mind is very busy
boggling. Can you unboggle it?
Yours sincerely, James Moore
James Moore has recognised the importance of being able to further
differentiate a read on the GSR-meter (E-meter), as to whether it
represents an 'alter-is' rationalisation (to the left on the Bilateral
Meter) or a 'not-is' suppression (to the right). As to actually why
the needle moves to the left or right - well, I feel I explained
the factors involved in metering to some extent in the articles in
IVy 14 and 15, but of course I'm happy to further clarify these
matters in response to James' questions. My explanations differ
from those of Ron Hubbard; they are not metaphysical - indeed
they are proven scientific fact.
First a little bit of history. The simple psycho-galvanometer was
one of the earliest tools of psychological research. A
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 Tarchenoff Response is a change in DC potential across neurones
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
strip of the cortex, hand-held electrodes are ideal. As arousal
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 Tarchenoff 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 which occurs when the forebrain is aroused.
Changes in Alpha rhythms cause blood capillaries to enlarge, and this
too affects resistance. The special design of the electrodes used
with the Bilateral Meter, take advantage of this further element
of differentiation, since readings from this area are less affected
by the primal and genetic (archetypal) case of the subject. There
are further subtle Galvanic Skin Responses which are measured by
Mental Development equipment.
The Bilateral Meter
The Bilateral Meter measures the difference in degree of arousal of
each of the two cortical hemispheres of the brain. This is possible
due to the fact that each hemisphere is connected, through the
nervous system, to the opposite side of the body: thus the left
connects to the right side of the body, and vice versa. By virtue
of the Galvanic Skin Response, autonomic nervous system activity
causes a change in the skin's conductivity. The difference in arousal
of one cortical hemisphere over the other may be measured as the
in skin resistance between the hands, and this is shown by the
of the Bilateral Meter.
The overall degree of arousal of the hemispheres, and indeed the whole
brain, is shown by the readings of the GSR(1)
Meter, which does not differentiate between the hemispheres, or
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. The
Bilateral meter indicates whether this fall or rise occurred more
in one hemisphere than the other.
Thus a rise or fall is nothing to do with 'mental masses'; it simply
has to do with reactive arousal, due to restimulation of repressed
mental conflict, releasing emotional charge. When the conflict or
unknowingness is resolved, by confronting objective reality, there
is 'as-isness' and the charge dissipates. A Rock Slam is a major
conflict between two identities, each one restimulating the other,
back and forth. A Theta Bop actually looks much bigger on the
meter, representing a frantic hunting between the hemispheres, for
data to resolve an issue threatening loss for the Being.
The Being is involved, because it is the Being that knows the
truth and therefore is in conflict with distorted mental contents;
but it is not mental pictures literally flying around in space -
much more of the mind goes on in the brain than Hubbard's
of the facts. The Being, however, is not part of the brain; he 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
the composite human being, through will and creative choice, by
Incidentally, the dead body resistance of a man or woman would depend
only on the size and water content of the bodies - meat is meat!
Furthermore, a woman is no more likely to have a low TA - if 2.0
was typical of women, then they would be near to overwhelm all the
time, and no auditing would be possible. This sexual difference is
When solo cans are held in the left hand, they are picking up changes
in arousal of the right brain hemisphere. If the person is being very
left-brain dominant, then reads would not be picked up on the solo
electrode. Since the effect of much of scientology solo materials
is to put the person hard into an altered (evaluated) reality, it
is clear that in this state, solo cans are ineffective: bypassed
would continuously build up. (Obviously, the reads do not correspond
to 'mental masses' in the hand where the electrode gaps are
but to changes of arousal of the brain, which simultaneously affect
nerve endings all over the body, so that the cans can be placed at
any location with good contact; but the hands are most suitable, for
reasons mentioned above).
Having covered James Moore's questions, I would like to give some
further background, to explain how the GSR Meter is conceived in the
context of Mental Development.
Jung and Matheison
One of the first references to the use of GSR instruments in
is in the book by Carl Gustav Jung, entitled 'Studies in Word
published in 1906. Here the Swiss psychologist describes a technique
of connecting the subject, via hand-electrodes, to an instrument
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 deflection
of the needle of the galvanometer. Any words which 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 judgement 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
as little more than a laboratory curiosity until the development of
sophisticated valve amplifiers in the 1930s. Once a portable
with amplification was available, the idea of using a
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,
and the subjective experience of psychic states and unconscious
2. A high level of cortical arousal gives increased powers of
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
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. Similarly, with a Bilateral Meter, the
subject can learn to arouse the left or right hemispheres of his brain
selectively, by learning from the biofeedback response. It is a
Volney Matheison(2) 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 needle in the meter would jump
the degree of jump was in proportion to the strength of unconscious
reaction. In skilled hands the meter could be used to locate a
mental content, the nature of that content, the location of that
content in space and time, and the amount of force contained within
His researches with lie-detectors in the 1940's made it possible for
Volney Matheison to go on and invent the modern type of portable
GSR Meter - 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.
Matheison went on to develop a word-list to be used in conjunction
with the GSR Meter. 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,
Matheison 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
It has long been known in biofeedback research, that meditation and
relaxation procedures cause a rise in skin resistance. It has
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
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
This contradiction has been noted by 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
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 restimulation. It can be demonstrated in many cases
that one hemisphere is aroused more than the other, as seen on the
Bilateral Meter. In contrast, when cortical arousal is uniform
this is experienced as a pleasant state of high energy (the Bilateral
meter will float).
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
in Mental Development substantiate Freud's early findings.
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
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
as tense when it means an inability to confront repressed material
(Paratelic). Involvement is experienced as tense when it means
or anxiety (Telic), and is experienced as relaxed when it means
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 'in session' 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 needle, i.e.
an increase in arousal, is usually more useful than a rise, i.e.
a decrease in arousal, when a list is being assessed to find a case
entry point or something to handle. Usually, unless the arousal
is too high, due to overwhelm or terror, the fall of the needle
involvement, hence increased awareness and the ability to access and
confront charged material. When the needle 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.
I hope the above information clarifies James Moore's understanding,
as well as introducing some concepts that will probably be new to
IVy readers, but which illustrate how Mental Development research
complements and extends the teachings of the Old School. I would be
happy to correspond with readers who would like to discuss any
of these areas in further depth.
97 Connaught Street, Phibsboro, Dublin 7 Ireland. Note that this
is also a new address for The Insight Project (IVy16, page 37).
(1)Galvonic Skin Response
(2)A letter on Volney Mathison's (or Mathesen's) work
is in The Free Spirit, Vol X, No. 4, Winter 94, and an article
on the early development of the Hubbard Meter (with circuit diagram)
in The Free Spirit, Vol X no. 3, Fall 94. Ed.
Mon Jul 31 17:54:26 EDT 2006