The Light Connection


What Hidden Messages Reveal About You

A TLC Interview with David John Oates

by Marlene Hays

In 1984, David Oates was managing a half-way house for street kids when some of them came to him with their concerns about reversed messages in popular music. As an electronics buff, Oates easily rewired a tape recorder to play tapes in reverse. In addition to backward messages deliberately placed by the recording studios, he also discovered intelligible phrases (in reverse) that later research shows are a natural part of everyone's spoken communication. Since then he has spent his time researching and developing this phenomenon. We talked to him about the possibilities this opens up in accessing our subconcious mind and changing unwanted patterns.

What is reverse speech?

Reverse Speech is another form of communication that is automatically generated by the brain as we speak: As we are constructing the sounds of our speech, we're delivering two messages at once. One is forwards, which is what everyone hears and responds to consciously. The other one is in reverse, what we hear and respond to unconsciously.

How do you access that?

From the purely mechanical point of view, it's simply a matter of tape-recording human speech and literally running the tape in reverse. The reversals can be heard every ten to fifteen seconds.

Can anyone hear these reversals?

It is possible for anyone to play a tape recorder in reverse, and they would hear one or two phrases. The real skill lies in learning how to hear all of them, and to hear accurately, because theres a lot of imagination and coincindence. So it takes a lot of training to be able to hear the real message of the person.

What do these reversals tell us? Why are they significant?

Reverse Speech is coming from many differant areas. About 10 percent of all reversals are unspoken consious thoughts and feelings. For example, if the police are interviewing a murder suspect and find the suspect is lying, the reversals will correct the lie. So whatever they are thinking will be in reverse. In that sense, it's the ultimate truth. Now that sort of Reverse Speech alone is a significant breakthrough. However, the real significance of Reverse Speech, as I see it, is that 90% of language is in metaphors and archetypes. Communicating pictures and images is the working of the unconscious mind, programming and organizing behavior. The unconscious speaks in pictures. We see part of this in dreams. Ten percent of all Reverse Speech is conscious, but by far the vast majority is unconscious.

About five percent of reversals will communicate the state of the physical body. I did a session with a client who said in a reversal, "Warning: I am getting cancer". There was no sign in her body that she had cancer. Six months later, she was diagnosed with it. Reversals have also said, "I need more sugar".

Another aspect of Reverse Speech is the spiritual. Reverse Speech on the deeper levels will communicate the state of the soul, the state of the spirit and the spiritual journey.

When you hear these reversals, will some of them make sense to the client and some of them, in metaphors and pictures, perhaps make no sense?

On first glance they would make no sense.

How do you translate them?

Based on 12 years of experience and research with Reverse Speech, I believe that the metaphors are universal in meaning. For example the metaphor "wolf" means a hunter and protector, for everyone. Interpreting metaphors and archetypes is always extremely difficult. The great advantage we have with Reverse Speech is that we have a reference point to go back to. In other words, if we hear a reversal that says " The goddess needs a sword," we can look at the forward dialogue that was spoken and the emotional context. So when I interpret Reverse Speech metaphors, it's based on seeing them occur in the same conversational setting, dozens and dozens of times. When I see the same word or phrase appearing out of this context many times, I begin to get a fairly good interpretation of what it means. I have a Reverse Speech dictionary that is in a constant state of evolution. I'm constantly updating it, and there are some metaphors that I still don't understand, because I haven't seen them often enough. We're currently in the process of keying into a computer all the transcripts that i've done in the past twelve years. So when we find a metaphor, we can type it into the computer and get a print-out of every situation in whichit's appeared, so we can hopefully begin to get a meaning.

In the context of dreams and other subconscious work, how can we all have the same metaphors?

I believe that the psychic body has a normal structure, just as the physical body has a normal, ordinary structure. What my work does is bring the psychic structure back into alignment, just as a masseur brings the physical structure back into alignment. Thus, everyone has a hand that holds things, everyone has a wolf that protects them, everyone has a goddess that embodies hope for the future. Now, differant metaphors will operate in differant manners. Your wolf can be a sad, happy or aggressive wolf. Just because you've run that metaphor doesn't mean that everyone will operate their wolf in the same manner. That's where unique personalities come in. So Reverse Speech is accessing the psychic body, which has a definite structure that is normal, universal. And through the process of the collective unconscious, one of the things that Reverse Speech shows us is that the collective unconscious is really a giant communications network, just like the Internet. And a lot of the link is through Reverse Speech. For centuries we have had conversations about wolves and goddesses and Lancelots, and they're all part of the collective unconscious. We've found that children speak backwards before they speak forwards, and they adopt the metaphors of their parents and peer groups. Every time Dad gets angry, they might hear wolf come out, and they learn that wolf and anger are together.

When you say children speak backwards before they do forwards, do you mean that when they cry, it's a reversal?

From about four months of age onwards, children begin to utter simple, single words in reverse: "Mommy, Daddy, hungry, help." Then from six to seven months of age, they begin to put two or three words together in a sentance. From twelve months, they begin to adopt metaphors, based on their parents, extended families and peer groups.

How do you use reversals to help people who have particular problems?

I have developed a specific process over several years of using this therapy. I'm not into the why's of problems. I'm into what it is, and let's fix it. So if someone's into long, drawn-out therapy, I'm not the person for them.

You come to see me and talk about your problem. I tape that, a 30-minute recording, and then I'll analyze the reversals. What i will get from the very first tape are the precise unconscious structures that are responsible for the pattern you're running. This alone is a major breakthrough, because people spend 10 to 20 years in therapy without getting to the cause. The unconscious structures appear in metaphors, archetypes, pictures and images. That in itself is not new because Jung worked with people's dreams, claiming that by understanding the metaphors of dreams, you could understand the unconscious structures.

I go over the reversals with the client. I think it's an important part of the healing process for the person to understand the patterns of their mind. Sometimes that can be very painful. Reverse Speech is not always nice. Sometimes it's very hard to look in the mirror. Being able to communicate information so people accept it is a skill in itself. So it's very important for me to to strive for acceptance. Unless there's acceptance of the pattern, I'm very reluctant to go on and do trance work. Even in a normal situation there can be complications.

Then we want to fix the problem. we do a pre-trance tape, where I ask the unconscious, "how do we correct this?"

The unconscious knows what's correct and what's not. I've developed a series of questions to ask the unconscious. I look for things like sabotage patterns, what the desired outcome is and so forth. From that, the reversals I get from the pre-trance tape, I map out my trances. For example, if a reversal said, "My goddess has no sword," goddess is hope for the future, and sword is the ability to interact dynamically. In the pre-trance tape, I'll ask, "How do I give your goddess a sword?" And I might get a reversal back that says, "Alladdin has a sword in the cave." So in my trance, I'll get Alladdin to go to the cave, find a sword, and give it to the goddess.

What I am doing in my trances is accessing a completely different part of the mind than any hypnotherapist will work with-the core foundation, the actual foundation stone of the psyche. Then I rework the pictures and images according to the transcript guidelines. I take people through three or four very vivid metaphoric journeys through the unconscious mind. They are completely different for each person.

It's all very picturesque, as opposed to giving them affirmations.

I don't do statements or affirmations. I will sometimes use them in the initial trance induction, to get them under. But I don't believe affirmations work anyway.

Why not?

Because they are trying to rewrite the conscious, and the subconscious is just below the conscious. It is not accessing the core structures. I have seen affirmations do far more harm than good. For example, you are running a pattern, not making money, and you have a belief system that money is evil and money will cause you harm. The more you try to program yourself with "I will make money, I will make money," the more you're actually accessing the pattern that's causing you not to make money. You can't change behavior effectively through that type of method. You've got to go down to the core structure. You can't fix cancer by cutting the tumor out. All you're doing is alleviating the symptom. You're not dealing with the problem itself.

So you're saying that the subconscious doesn't respond to words or the English language. It responds to pictures and metaphors?

Absolutely. One of the biggest mistakes we make in therapy is trying to understand the unconscious mind from the conscious perspective. We're trying to make the unconscious mind fit into the conscious, which isn't possible.

Does that complete the picture?

Yes. I believe that as I'm changing the pictures, I change the core structure. Then I do a post trance follow-up three to four weeks later, see what happened, what took and what didn't take. It's more involved than that, but that's the general idea.

Give an example.

There's been a whole bunch of them. Bill Clinton was on a talk show, and a lady asked if she could have her high school reunion at the White House. He answered very politely, of course. But, in reverse, we get his real thoughts: "Some nerve, she's being cheeky." Those are the things that we think and never say.

When I first started, I used to do media quite a lot and I had fun with it.

Did you ever work with police departments?

Oh yeah, I 've done a lot of work with them, but I won't anymore.

What else have you worked on?

In Australia, I worked on two cases. One was a man who was suspected of murdering his wife's lover. He was actually interviewed on TV, which I got from there. The reversals were a confession to the murder and contained the location of the weapons. The reversal said, "The firearms are off of the cellar." Through some people, I got in contact with the police commissioner, who was convinced to go and get a search warrant. They found the weapons in a little alcove off the cellar.

How did you get started?

In 1984 I was running a halfway house for street kids. I've always been a counselor and a youth worker. There was an American evangelist traveling throughout the outback of Australia, and preaching that rock 'n roll was the devil's music. He said that if you played rock 'n roll records backwards, you could hear the voice of Satan. So I had all these kids coming into the center really scared. They were listening to records backwards and heard what they thought were demons. I was pretty angry at the evangelist. So I rewired some equipment to play backwards to show them that they were all wrong. The very first song I played back contained something very clear. I was absolutely obsessed for two weeks, playing my tape collection backwards and finding that one out of every two or three songs contained some pretty clear messages. It was obviously not coincindence or imagination. I wanted to find out what it was. The only thing I could find were some books written by fundamentalist preachers. iwas a little bit stunned that no work was being done on this. So it really started off as a hobby. Then I managed to get an Australian government grant in '88, got some articles published in America in '89 and was asked on a lecture tour.

Now I have opened a center in San Diego. I am continuing my research and am training others to do this work.


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David John Oates
Founder and Developer of Reverse Speech Technologies
PO Box 803, Noarlunga Centre, SA 5168. Australia
phone: 08 83824372 - international: 61 8 83824372

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All contents of the web site is Copyright 2001 by David John Oates