I’ve been conducting psychological assessments of children for over 35 years. I have now interviewed and administered projective materials to close to 4,000 children. For the most part, I have asked the same questions. Most scientific studies don’t have nearly that many in their subject pools. So, bottom line, I have learned a lot from the children I have talked to.
I find one of the answers that children often give to one of the questions, particularly disturbing. The question is “If you could be any age, what age would you like to be?” with an emphasis on the “like.” A very typical response is, “17 so I can drink and drive.” And they say it just like that. It has made me wonder, how often children hear those two words paired with one another. We’re now entering the Holiday season, and you will often hear on the radio “Remember, don’t drink and drive.” It’s as if drinking goes with driving, like apples goes with oranges, or as bird goes with feathers. They seem to be a team. Yes, yes, I know there’s this word “don’t” that comes before it. Isn’t that enough to negate what comes after. Evidently not.
When studying hypnosis a few years ago, I learned that the golden rule of hypnosis is never use the negative, “because the unconscious does not recognize the negative.” So, according to the practitioners of hypnosis, if you say “Don’t drink and drive,” your unconscious hears “Drink and Drive.” That is why everything is verbalized in the positive, when speaking to the unconscious.
So what if every time we say to a child or to anyone, for that matter, “Don’t drink and drive,” we are inadvertently telling them to “drink and drive.” I guess we should stop doing that.
According to those same hypnosis practitioners, the unconscious also resonates to the rule of 3’s. It likes to hear things in 3—like, the father, son and holy ghost. It has a rhythm to it, da da, da da, da dum. Try it in your conversation, if you want to make a point.