The One-Hour Test

When the Life and Reader’s Digest articles were published in 1967, there began a steady flow of people to the Dreyfus Medical Foundation. Many were struck by the similarity of the symptoms they had to symptoms I’d had, as described in the articles, and wanted to talk to me about it. After they’d gotten a prescription I had the opportunity to talk with many of these people before they took their first PHT. These talks were beneficial to both of us—informative for them and educational for me.

I haven’t kept exact count—no study as such was being done—but over the years I’ve talked with over two thousand persons before and after they’ve taken PHT. As a result of these talks, a test evolved. The test is in two parts. The first part deals with somatic conditions and is outlined at the end of this chapter. The second part deals with the effects of PHT on thoughts and emotions—in an explicit way. Because it differs from other tests, I will discuss it in some detail.

While I was in the depression, described earlier in this book, my brain was busy with thoughts I wanted to turn off but couldn’t. These thoughts were invariably unhappy ones, mostly associated with fear, sometimes with anger. My brain worked on its own. It paid little attention to the landlord, I hesitate to use the word owner. When I took PHT this symptom disappeared, and I had an insight (in the literal sense) into the effects of PHT on thoughts and emotions. In those days I thought of this symptom as the “turned-on mind.” It still seems an appropriate description.

The turned-on mind is a symptom that most of us will identify with. Let me describe what I mean by it. We’re told that we’re always thinking about something. But “always thinking” can be misleading. There’s a great difference between normal cerebration and abnormal. For example: You sit in the park relaxed, listening to the birds, enjoying the trees, and smelling the grass. Beautiful, and healthy. Or, you sit in the park and your mind is so busy you’re not even aware of the birds or the trees or the grass. This might be because you have a real problem. But if you don’t have a real problem, then it’s the turned-on mind.

My first opportunity to observe this closely was in the Worcester Jail study. Its effects were clear. The brains of the prisoners were so overactive that concentration was impaired. This interfered with reading. The subjects would see the words, but thoughts would intrude and they couldn’t absorb what they read. They couldn’t even remember what they’d seen on TV. The prisoners made it clear that their turned-on minds were busy with thoughts connected with the emotions of anger and fear. Obviously, with these emotions predominant, their mood was poor.

Subsequent experience showed that the turned-on mind is a common complaint with most of the people who need PHT. For years my only way of ascertaining this was by the straightforward question, “Do you have any thoughts now, other than what we are talking about, that you can’t turn off?” Answers were usually in the affirmative. I got replies such as “I can’t stop thinking for a minute,” “My mind is like a five-ring circus,” “My brain is going around and around.” And similar comments. An hour after 100 mg of PHT, the same question got a different response. It was apparent that the overthinking had quieted and the mood had improved. But the change couldn’t be measured. I would have liked to have had a more objective test.

One day I was talking to a young woman before she took her first 100 mg of PHT, and asked the standard question, “Is your brain busy with thoughts you can’t turn off?” She said, “Oh yes, a lot of them.” Something in the way she answered made me ask, “How many?” She said about fourteen. “Fourteen?” I said, and challengingly asked if she could write them down. I gave her pencil and pad and almost without pause she wrote down twelve thoughts. I was astonished that she could locate these thoughts and write them down. It didn’t occur to me to ask her questions about the thoughts.

An hour after PHT I again asked if she could write down her thoughts. She said she could—this time there were just two. One of them was, “I am angry with my mother.” Earlier, she had written, “I am very, very angry with my mother.” With PHT her mother was two very’s better off. The following day I met with a man I’d known for several years. Jim was thirty-five and had a lot going for him. But he said he was depressed. PHT had been prescribed and he wanted to talk with me before taking it.

These were Jim’s circumstances as he related them. He was doing so well in his work that he was leaving a firm he’d been with for years to go into business for himself. The firm had been good to him and he felt badly about leaving. Also, there was a change in his private life. He had fallen in love with another woman and was leaving his wife and two children to get married again. It was a mixed bag. There were things to be happy about, and there were realistic concerns. As with the young woman the day before, I asked Jim if he could write down the thoughts he couldn’t turn off. He considered for a moment and then wrote steadily. When he finished, he said there were nine thoughts. (See below.)

At that point I asked a question I’d never asked before. I asked Jim to think of the first thought on his list, and if any emotions came with it to write them down. He thought, and then wrote. I asked him to repeat the procedure with the second thought, and so on.

The preceding was the list of Jim’s thoughts and the emotions attached to them. When he handed it to me he volunteered, “ ‘Unfocus’ is the worst problem in my life.” With his thoughts and emotions in writing, Jim took 100 mg of PHT. Not wanting my presence to have a possible effect, I left him to his own devices for an hour. When I rejoined him I gave him a fresh piece of paper and asked the same questions. This time he wrote:

When he finished Jim looked at what he’d written and had a belly laugh. He said, isn’t that a typical American boy’s story—JOB, GIRL, MONEY, WIFE. I report the laugh because there weren’t any laughs in Jim an hour earlier. This was the first complete one-hour test for thoughts and emotions. It is a good test for illustration purposes; it demonstrates three points:

One.  A striking diminution of extraneous and unnecessary thoughts is seen within an hour after PHT. These thoughts are usually accompanied by emotions related to anger and fear. (Note that on Jim’s first list, with an exception of love, all the emotions are related to anger and fear.) When the thoughts disappear, the negative emotions disappear with them.

Two. The PHT needer has poor concentration and is unlikely to remember what his condition was before he took PHT. That is why it is necessary to get things down in writing. Before taking PHT, Jim said that “unfocus” was his worst problem. An hour later I asked, “What is your worst problem?” Jim couldn’t remember “unfocus.”

Three. PHT does not cause realistic concerns to go away. Jim had two real problems. They were still there but in better perspective. After PHT he still felt guilt in leaving his firm, but now “guilt” was coupled with “success” (he was starting his own business). He still had realistic concern about his family, but instead of children (guilt, remorse) this was moderated to wife (sadness). (This was the first of many hundreds of such tests. These tests were not “controlled” by placebo or other drugs. The persons were taking PHT for therapeutic reasons and that was out of the question. However, there was an interesting element of control. Initially, I wasn’t sure how long it took for PHT to become effective and I experimented with repeating the questions at different time intervals, including five and ten minutes after PHT. In these two time periods I never saw positive results. On the other hand, beneficial effects of PHT were always seen between forty-five minutes and one hour.)

Let me re-emphasize that the test should be done in writing. People who need PHT are poor observers and are almost sure to forget how they were an hour before.

* * *

Everybody’s talking at me
I don’t hear a word they’re saying
Only the echoes of my mind.
              —“Everybody’s Talking,” Midnight Cowboy

“Only the echoes of my mind.” What a beautiful and perceptive line. To a lesser or greater degree it describes the PHT needer.

Until this test evolved it wouldn’t have occurred to me that a person could identify the thoughts alive in his brain, think of them singly, and write down the emotions that came with them. I’d always thought of “echoes of my mind” as being unconscious or subconscious. I still think they are—most of the time. But when a specific question is asked, the echoes become conscious and can be identified. Thus the same questions, asked before and after PHT, enable one to compare quantitative changes in thoughts and qualitative changes in emotions.

A majority of PHT needers have persistent thoughts they can’t turn off. A small minority do not have persistent thoughts, but a jumble of thoughts flashing in and out. Both conditions are corrected or improved within an hour. The effects of PHT are so consistent that it helps to remember that, in the laboratory, PHT always corrects post-tetanic after discharge. It makes no exceptions, regardless of the type of nerve or the cause of excitation. The turned-on mind is not just a daytime phenomenon. It continues at night and can make it difficult to fall asleep. It can also be the cause of light sleep filled with unpleasant dreams and frequent nightmares. That is why PHT’s effectiveness against the turned-on mind is helpful with sleeping problems.

Only two more tests will be discussed here. One test was with a woman who used to be seen frequently on television. You could call her an intellectual, in a nice way. Before she took PHT I asked if she had any thoughts, other than what we were talking about, alive in her head. “Oh, I always do,” she said. “Doesn’t everyone?” Then she wrote down seven thoughts she couldn’t turn off. All of them were connected with worries and concerns. When she finished she said, “I always have music playing in my head. It’s like a jukebox and I can tell you what record is on.”

An hour after taking PHT, before I could ask any questions, this woman volunteered that she was trying to be objective but she didn’t think PHT had any effect. Again, I asked if there were any thoughts that she couldn’t turn off. She said no—in the most matter-of-fact way. I said, “What is playing in your jukebox now?” She said, “Nothing.” That woke her up, and she exclaimed, “My goodness, I feel like a weight is off my chest.” (This sort of comment is not uncommon. When negative emotions are relieved, people tend to become more lighthearted and have a return of energy.)

One other test. It was with a physician who was doing research on PHT. He mentioned that he had been sleeping badly and that he was a little depressed. I suggested it might be useful for him to try PHT, both for personal reasons and also for research purposes. He agreed. After I asked him the standard questions he started writing down the thoughts “alive” in his brain. (It can be helpful to start with the question, “Do you remember what you had for breakfast?” When the subject tells you, you explain, “You weren’t thinking of that until I asked. You got it out of your memory. That is not the type of thought we’re interested in. What we want to know is, are there any thoughts alive in your head that you can’t turn off?”) He wrote and wrote. When he had written twenty-six, he paused for a moment and looked up. I said, “That’s enough, Fred, you’ve already set a record. Now go back to the first thought, think of it for a moment, and write the emotion or emotions that come with it.”

For our purposes, and to save space, I’ll leave out the thoughts and just show the last twelve emotions.

Fred took 100 mg of PHT. An hour later I asked the same questions. He wrote:

When I read No. 3, “No noticeable effect of PHT,” I thought he was putting me on. But I saw he was serious. I said, “Fred, get out the list you wrote an hour ago.” He looked at the list—and it all came back to him. He wrote:

The turned-on mind is usually occupied with the same thoughts, repeated over and over again. This last test illustrates a less frequent condition—a confusion of thoughts flashing in and out. As Fred described it, “frustration—problem all my life—too many ideas at once.”

Go to the Test

Next: The China Test

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