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Breaking Free



Breaking Free (Chapter 1)
by Alfred Barrios, Ph.D.


Solving The # 1 Problem

What is the #1 problem most people have? Is it finances; relationships; stress; depression; drugs; alcohol, obesity? Yes, all of these are major problems but there is one problem that supersedes all of these!

The biggest problem facing most people is that it is hard for them to change.  

You can be given all the best advice in the world about how to solve your problems but what good is it if you can’t follow this advice because it is so hard to change. Hundreds and hundreds of self-help books have been written and many of them offer some very good advice on how to get more out of life. However, they are missing one important ingredient.  They do not provide an effective enough way to incorporate all this good advice.  They do not provide a method to facilitate the changes necessary; and I am talking about more than just making temporary changes. I’m sure you know what I am referring to:

How many people do you know that have tried to break free from smoking and have failed time and time again even knowing its deadly consequences?

Look at all the overweight people who may manage to lose a few pounds temporarily then soon bounce back to their old weight.

Think of all the drug addicts and alcoholics that desperately need or want to quit but fail so many times they give up trying to change.

I’m sure you know of people that are constantly stressed out for one reason or another and have never been able to change their ways and learned how to relax.

Then there are the many people that lack sufficient self-confidence, that have low confidence in their abilities due to the negative mind-set created by repeated failures through the years. Try as they might to change and break free from this negative mind-set,  they continue to fail or fall short at school, at work, at relationships, or whatever they attempt.

And it’s not that they do not want to change. It’s that they don’t know HOW to change.

What’s that you say; “Everyone has free will and free choice on all decisions that control their destiny and should therefore be able to change their negative programming anytime they wish!” You would like to believe that but it is not true for most people.

There are a few people that maintain complete control over their destiny and life. People that not only know what changes they need to make in order to be happier, healthier and get the most out of life but, most importantly,  also  have the power of the will to facilitate making  these changes.   These are the happy few. What is their secret? Can it be passed along to others? Yes… and this book with the Self-Programmed Control (SPC) program presented herein will provide you with that missing link in self-help books - the means to facilitate these changes. 

Why is it so hard to change?

I’m sure you have heard the expressions; “Man is a creature of habit”, “Old habits die hard”, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”, “People get set in their ways.” These sayings indicate it is a well accepted fact that it is hard to change. The reason it is hard to change is because much of our behavior is so deeply ingrained it has become automatic and sub-conscious (i.e., involuntary, below conscious control). This would be great if all our behavior was positive, but unfortunately, many of the habits and behaviors we have accumulated are not positive. 

You might not want to admit it, but many people are not free because they are shackled to deeply ingrained negative habits, to negative programs. 

 I wonder how many people realize they have become prisoners of their own negative habits, beliefs and emotions. Like robots, they march to the beat of their negative programming. Even when the origin of the negative behavior is made known, it often does not help solve the problem because it has become an involuntary or automatic reflex. Most people do not have a systematic process to change these automatic negative reflexes that have taken control of their lives. And most current forms of therapy or self help programs are insufficient to help. The doctor tells us to relax, to not be depressed, but neglects to tell us how except by prescribing pills. Psychologists are good at helping us become more aware of what caused our problems, but not quite so good at how to make the necessary changes to get rid of them. All the insight and good advice in the world will do little good if the ability to produce the necessary changes isn’t there.

  Religion, meditation, yoga, western psychology and positive thinking are attempts to help transcend the mental imprisonment. Each discipline can be successful for a percentage of people, but there remains a larger percentage yet to find a method to release them from these mental shackles.  It is this larger percentage of people we need to help break free and break free soon, for many of these people can not only be a danger to themselves but others as well.   With the phenomenally fast rate of technology advancement in the last century, man now has the means (e.g.  atomic bombs) to destroy the world and will unless we can get to him first. It is my strong belief that; the only way to world peace is through inner peace. If everyone on this planet were at peace within themselves, the world would be a much happier and a much safer place. I strongly believe that SPC can provide the way to this inner peace. It will not only provide the means to breaking free of all the negative programming causing misery in your life but it will also show you the way towards reaching your highest potential (self-actualization) which assures you of attaining this inner peace. 

The Many Possibilities of SPC

      The ultimate possibilities of SPC may at first seem incredible. Using SPC will provide greater control over our lives, greater ability to do what we set our minds to and greater ability to be governed by "reason" rather than our emotions.

      With SPC you are able to easily break free of all  bad habits such as excessive smoking, drugs, drinking, overeating, procrastination, etc., habits dealing with all areas of life, work, home, school, etc.,  In addition SPC will quickly replace negative attitudes with positive attitudes, attitudes towards ourselves, others, work, school, etc.

 You will gain complete control over your moods, emotions, fear, anger, jealousy, depression, and even love, instead of being controlled by them. You will be able to react calmly and clear-headedly to almost any situation. Anxiety, tension, stress and insomnia will be things of the past. You will find yourself with so much more vitality and energy, very little being wasted on conflict and worry.

 Your whole state of being will be much healthier and more youthful. Life span would be extended to beyond 100 years. In addition, your mental capacity would be greatly expanded with supernormal powers of concentration, memory, learning and creativity, to the point of making us all potential geniuses.

If you think all of this sounds impossible to believe, then look at the phenomenal results already achieved with SPC in education; health; work incentive programs; industry; and drug rehab, presented in Chapter XVIII, First Major Applications of SPC. The following highlights of these results give you a good idea of how powerful the SPC program can be:   

Positive Results Already Achieved With SPC  

In studies at four different colleges; East Los Angeles Junior College, UCLA, Santa Monica College and Southwest College, the results of implementing SPC showed that not only were grades and motivation to continue in school dramatically increased, but there was also considerable evidence that the personal lives of the students benefited as well.

With regards to grades and motivation to continue in school, SPC’s very first application at East Los Angeles Junior College (ELAJC) produced some amazing results. A nine week SPC class of 105 students on scholastic probation went up an average of 3.8 grade points (GPA x units completed) over a 1 1/2 year period with a dropout rate of only 16%. This is compared to a control group of 89 students also on scholastic probation that were taught study skills over a 9 week period, whose average grade points, instead of rising, dropped 5.45 points and had a 56% dropout rate over the same period. One of the first students to benefit from the program, a former high school dropout when he took the SPC class for minority students at UCLA, is now the current Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa (He was also the Chairman of the 2012 Democratic Convention.) 

  The reason for these phenomenal results is that the SPC techniques help these students break free of their failure-prone mind-set by building a high level of self-efficacy (belief in their capabilities) This in turn makes the student now more receptive to learning and studying techniques as well as relaxation techniques, also taught in the program, all of which help lead to higher grades.

  The program has also been successfully applied in grade schools through high schools in SPC classes taught by teachers that had learned to teach the program by participating in my 3-hour Instructors SPC Workshop. One additional advantage of the SPC program is it is so easy to learn and all a teacher needs is to go through this one workshop. To give you an idea of the type of results teachers taking this workshop can achieve, I include here an excerpt from one of these teachers who is currently teaching the program at Ramona Opportunity High School in  East Los Angeles :

  “I must tell you I was impressed and astonished by your techniques. I was so motivated after the training [the workshop] that I immediately experimented the exercises with my students, and found that there was not a single student that was not able to learn. My students were just as surprised and astonished. After practicing these techniques in the classroom I have been observing their learning habits and behaviors (3 months). I must say that my student’s attitude toward school has really changed. Their attendance increased 27%. They’re more eager to learn. They’re more receptive in class. They’re not as sleepy as they were before.

“It is hard to be exact about what was more helpful to my students and me, if it was the stress control techniques or the SPC magic of the mind techniques, but I thank you because the techniques gave them a sense of believing in themselves. I have to remind you that our school receives students that have failed over and over again in one area of their education or personal life and this is how they get to an opportunity school. But now the students have picked themselves up from that feeling of hopelessness and now they have a very important tool; they have their mind. I wish you could see the changes in them as I am able to see them. They truly believe now that nothing is impossible when you believe you can do it no matter how difficult an obstacle may seem.”  

One interesting indication of personal benefits is the considerable reduction of habits of excess that resulted. An anonymous questionnaire given to 313 ELAJC students at the completion of the SPC classes showed that for those students indicating excesses in the following areas, these percentages significantly reduced or completely eliminated their excesses: 

    Food                                  78%            (100 of 129)

    Cigarettes                           73%            (52 of 71)

    Alcohol                               92%            (59 of 64)

    Watching TV                       86%            (120 of 140)         

    Marijuana                             72%            (31 of 43)  

    Stimulants & tranquilizers    83%            (16 of 19)

Even the one student that had been taking heroin stopped, and all seven that had been abusing LSD stopped. An interesting point is this substance abuse reduction occurred primarily as a side benefit of SPC. No concentrated attack had been made on the “vices” themselves.

The results occurred because of three major changes produced by the program:

1) A general increase in the ability to deal with tension (many excesses are relied on as tranquilizers);

2) A greater enjoyment of school and other areas of life, resulting from greater self-confidence and more positive attitudes (many excesses can be traced to a lack of constructive sources of pleasure and satisfaction);

3) A greater amount of self-control (power of the will).

Drug Rehab

       In addition to the above high success rates in substance-abuse-control achieved with college students, the program has proven to be equally effective with hard core drug and alcohol addicts – at The House of Uhuru and Bridgeback in the Los Angeles area. Not only were the residents of these two hard core rehab centers able to break free of deeply embedded drug and alcohol addictions but they were also able to break free of the need of sleeping pills and tranquilizers to help them sleep. In addition, they were able to greatly reduce stress levels with resulting fewer headaches, less loss of temper, and of course less use of drugs or alcohol to deal with the stress. The program also helped them increase their self-confidence resulting in many benefits including doing better in school and at work. One additional positive outcome was the fact that they were now able to teach the program to others with similar positive results. The following excerpt from a letter written by one of the Bridgeback participants will give you a good idea of what the program can do:

     “For many years I had been a drug addict. For a long time I had thought there was no hope. I had been told that once a dope fiend always a dope fiend. Not having too much on the ball as far as a future, I let this saying make a nest in my subconscious. Because of this I would not deal with anything. Through the years I tried several times to break the habit but each time would go back. Well, I finally gave up and said it’s time to get help. I signed up for the Bridgeback Drug Program. There I thought I could get help by just grouping [note: this is a form of encounter group therapy and has been the main form of therapy used by many drug rehabilitative programs] but I couldn’t. So along came Dr. Barrios. He had a very unique program called SPC (self-program control).

    “At first I just sat in class and didn’t get involved, and then he started saying things that sounded good. He said he could change a person’s entire life if they got involved. I didn’t believe it at first. Then along came the Spiral Mind technique. I began getting so involved. Every morning I would use it. Then it started taking effect. The next thing I knew I had no desire whatsoever to use or even be around dope.

    “Then I had this Mural to paint, 75 feet long and 25 feet high. I just knew I couldn’t finish it. So I programmed in that I would complete the Mural, and now it’s one of the best in the city of L.A. and I’m always getting recognition for it.

    “Now still using Dr. A.A. Barrios’ SPC program. I’m enjoying life in a much more rewarding way. I attend L.A.Business College where I’m studying accounting. Upon completion, I hope to become an accounting clerk. Next I applied for a job for the State of California as a claim’s examiner’s assistant. My application was accepted. I took the test and I found it was so easy; it was as if I had taken it before. It’s really something to see how these techniques work. I just know I did well because I got under the Spiral that morning.

     “Oh yes, let me include this in this short story of my changed life-style. My grades in high school were C’s and D’s; now they are A’s and B’s.

    “I’m going to close with these last few words. There was this young lady that came to the program. I saw where I could help her with this new program. She was like me at first, skeptical; now she’s getting involved and she’s really doing fine now.”


     Throughout the book you will find reports of numerous stress-related diseases that have been helped greatly with SPC. This includes high blood pressure, angina, diabetes, asthma, headaches, ulcers, pain and delayed ovulation, among others. One especially exciting area is cancer where a number of healings resulting from the use of SPC to help revive the immune system are reported in Chapter XII, “SPC and Cancer”. With regards to the mental illness schizophrenia, exciting results have also been achieved – see the case of the paranoid schizophrenic cured in one three-hour session (in Chapter II.) To give you a glimpse of the potential of SPC for achieving an optimum state of health I have excerpted parts of Sue McCormack’s story taken from Chapter 10:

         Sue McCormack came to me originally because she could not shake a fear of impending death. Being a nurse she knew the realities of her situation and the fear was not an irrational one. She suffered from angina pectoris caused by spasms of the heart with resulting cutting off of 30-70% of the left anterior descending coronary artery, a diagnosis verified by cardiac catheterization and X-rays. So debilitated was she by her illness that she hadn't been able to work in over a year. But she just couldn't see herself passing the rest of her life as a semi-invalid with that ever-present fear hanging over her head that any second  might be her last. So she came to me.

  The change that took place in her was almost miraculous. Within a week after seeing me she was back at work carrying a full load and as the hospital's nursing care coordinator (all around troubleshooter) the pressures were tremendous. This was over 20 years ago and she is still going strong.

  How did she do it? Thanks to SPC she was able to develop a feeling of confidence, a feeling of being able to control the spasms and the pain. This then eliminated the fear and broke the vicious circle she was in. She now knows that should the pain start again she can cut it off immediately by means of the deep breath shortcut. In the first few weeks after seeing me she would have an occasional beginning of an attack but the deep breath shortcut would automatically relax her and cut it off. She also used the longer SPC techniques twice daily to unwind, using as many techniques as necessary. Usually the Spiral was sufficient but if not, she followed it with the Garden.

    So impressed was Sue with her own results that she immediately began to use the same techniques with some of her patients and produced some miraculous results of her own. To give you an example, take the case of M.S. This patient was brought to her in a moribund (dying) condition. On 12/2/77 he had undergone a serious operation for removal of portions of gangrenous small bowel which had been produced by a diaphragmatic hernia, but he continued on a downhill path in spite of the operation.

    In Sue’s own words:

     “ I spent about 45 minutes at the bedside teaching him to do the 20-10 countdown and then to spend 15 minutes 4 times a day, every day, seeing himself perfectly healthy and happy doing the things that he loved to do most. I told him to see this just as if he were running a movie and that he must do this in order to work with us to get well.

     “The next day Mr. M.S. met me walking the hall with his wife. He was beaming, his face pink, cheerful, and relaxed, his eyes clear and shining. His wife also was happy. He stated that he felt fine, that he had eaten solid food for the first time.

      “Mr. M.S. was discharged from the hospital 12/16. There is no question in my mind that SPC was the cornerstone of recovery for this man. It works, the patient works and recovery is not only speeded up, but assured, as once the person relaxes and becomes positive in thought and action, the natural laws of healing can work harmoniously in the individual”.

Work Incentive & Welfare Reform

The average success rate for welfare recipients getting a job after the standard work incentive training program was 28%. Five of the 18 participants were able to get jobs. This is compared to an average success rate of 94% for welfare recipients taking the SPC work incentive class. 34 of the 36 participants of the SPC class were able to get and hold jobs. This could be the solution to the welfare problem.

  The essence of what the program can do for these people was captured very nicely in a letter written by Suzanne Bourg, CETA counselor, to Lloyd E. Thornhill, Career Services Administrator regarding a class I held for CETA (Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) trainees in Pasadena:

  “As educational counselor to Pasadena City College CETA stu­dents, I have been privileged to attend a series of 18 lectures by Dr. Alfred Barrios on "Motivation Through Self-Program Control.” The ultimate purpose of the lectures is to increase the number of job placements of our CETA trainees. These students of economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds are taught simple but profound techniques which free an individual from his negative self-image, attitudes and emotions. His vitality and energy is then redirected towards a more positive and productive philosophy of life.

 Dr. Barrios' course emphasizes relaxation techniques which the student learns to apply in anxiety-arousing situations such as job interviews and test-taking. These methods combined with auto-sug­gestion enable a person to 'program' himself to be happy, produc­tive, get to work on time, not let life get him down, to picture success in one's mind and eventually achieve it. Most importantly, it teaches a person to rebound quickly from mistakes or failures and try harder the second or third time.

 After seeing the response of the students and hearing examples of their applications of Dr. Barrios' concepts and techniques, I feel strongly this is an important part of job training that has never been previously recognized. CETA can train a person to obtain job skills but if he has no self- confidence, no sense of control over his own destiny, no previous pattern of success, he has great difficulty getting and holding down a job. It is this strategic area of Dr. Barrios' course which applies so directly to our CETA trainees.”


There was a 91% success rate in the six week SPC class held for Rockwell International employees to see if SPC could help them improve their lives both at work and at home. Among  the many improvements reported were: a much more positive attitude towards work (going from hating work to loving it); greatly reduced tension with resulting greater work efficiency and fewer stress-related conflicts with fellow workers; increased self-confidence (self-efficacy) with resulting greater creativity and productivity; health improvement in a number of areas including weight reduction, high blood pressure, smoking cessation; and insomnia with resulting reduction in absenteeism.

In his summary report at the end of the class, the senior member of the class came to the following conclusion:

     “I think an SPC program is absolutely essential in a corporate organization in order to develop maximum performance and output among its members.

      “Corporation work programs such as North American Rockwell have impos­sible schedules, almost impossible goal requirements and a need for maximum cooperation between all members. Almost all workers in such a situation will develop an extremely tense personality where their creative output reaches minimum because of the impossible schedules and goals. SPC will develop calmness in these individuals so that their efficiency is increased tremendously and their awareness of the other person's point of view and his requirements are greatly enhanced to the point where cooperation and efficiency of the overall program results in a much better end result”.

The following will provide the explanation for the phenomenal powers of the SPC techniques to facilitate change.

The SPC Techniques, Belief and Free Will

      The SPC techniques are based on the premise, that words (“speech”) and thoughts (“inner speech”) can produce reflexive or automatic responses. Words can act as conditioned stimuli. The Great Russian physiologist, Pavlov, long ago recognized this fact:

 “Obviously for man speech provides conditioned stimuli which are just as real as any other stimuli . . . Speech on account of the whole preceding life of an adult is connected up with all the internal and external stimuli which can reach the cortex signaling all of them and replacing them and, therefore, can call forth all those reactions of the organism which are normally determined by the actual stimuli themselves.” (Pavlov, 1927)


       Saying the words "thick, juicy, delicious steak" to someone very hungry, and thereby initiating thinking about a thick, juicy, delicious steak should cause the mouth to automatically start watering (assuming you are not a vegetarian and like steak). This is a physiological response produced by “mere” words.

Similarly, thinking about a fearful situation, such as an approaching dental appointment, your low finances, loss of a job, loss of a relationship, etc. may cause increased rapid heart rate, sweaty palms or rapid breathing. This is a physiological response produced by words, sub-vocal or otherwise.

Try this simple test; visualize and focus on the lemon below. As vividly as you can, I want you to imagine biting into this very sour lemon. First see yourself slicing the lemon in two and then biting into each half. Now squeeze some of the lemon juice onto your tongue until you can almost taste it. If you have done this, you should find your mouth automatically watering; a physiological response produced by the word or thought "lemon.”

It is possible to relax, at will ,in any situation by merely thinking relaxing words and thoughts. By focusing sufficiently on the appropriate positive thought, you can produce just about any positive reaction you wish.

  Of course, we know that words or suggestions do not always produce the desired response. Unfortunately, there are often contradictory negative programs blocking the way. This is why so often, goodadvice “goes in one ear and out the other.” This is also why most forms of psychotherapy are not as effective as they could be; the majority of them are almost totally dependent on the effectiveness of the therapist's words getting through to the patient to produce positive changes.

 However, the capability of words and images to produce responses is always there. We need to keep those negative programs from blocking the way. This is what the SPC techniques do. They are a stepwise, systematic procedure for concentrating the mind and produce a gradually stronger, more effective response to positive words and thoughts. In this highly concentrated state of mind any negative interfering programs are automatically blocked from interfering with the new programming. The usual interference from deeply embedded established negative habits, attitudes and beliefs that you are trying to replace is blocked off.

  How do the SPC techniques produce this highly concentrated state? It is by creating a state of heightened belief.

  The SPC techniques increase belief in what you are programming in, and belief can be defined as concentration on a thought to the exclusion of anything that would contradict that thought. In other words, there are two components to a belief: one is the thought being focused on and the other is an inhibitory set blocking any contradictory thoughts or stimuli. The stronger one believes the stronger will be the inhibitory set blocking any interference and thus the stronger the response to that thought. (This is supported by the sections on belief in B.F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior, 1957 and suggestion in Pavlov’s Conditioned Reflexes, 1927.) Thus the stronger we believe that we will respond in a certain way, the more likely we will. (See also the chapter “Belief becomes biology” in Cousins’ book Head First: The Biology of Hope, 1989.)

  This explains how it is possible to gain control over our involuntary side through concentrated inner speech or thought. It is this capability of responding to his own words that sets man apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. I feel this is the basis of free will, or "will-power,” if free will is defined as the ability to transcend one’s automatic side, one’s subconscious, and the ability to make choices based on reasoning rather than emotions, the ability to change preprogrammed negative habits, attitudes and beliefs by being sufficiently focused on the appropriate thought. (Barrios, 1985, p.16) .This is the same "free will" that gives us greater control over our own destiny. Bruce Lipton, in his book The Biology of Belief (2005, p. 103) defined free will in almost the same way: “The conscious mind’s capacity to override the subconscious mind’s preprogrammed behaviors is the foundation of free will”. (Lipton, 2010, p. 103)

Thus we see there is an answer to the age-old question of whether or not there is such a thing as free will. The answer… is; every human being has the potential for free will. Because all humans have the ability to respond to their own words and thoughts, all humans have the potential for free will. The disappointment is, few people have developed it to the point of being in full control over their sub-conscious, automatic behavior. The SPC techniques can play a significant role in bringing out this potential because of their belief-building (mind-focusing) capabilities.

The Arms Technique

 To illustrate the principle that; focusing on a thought sufficiently can automatically produce the response associated with that thought, try this simple technique:

 Extend both arms in front of your body. Make sure both arms are at the same height, somewhat-above-eye-level to begin with. Now with the eyes closed, picture one of those gigantic weather balloons attached to one of your wrists. Picture this balloon large enough to lift a man off the ground Focus on that image for a few seconds, and then imagine holding a large bucket full of water in the other hand. Continue to focus on this image until you can really feel the heaviness. After 30-60 seconds, open your eyes. Where are your arms in relations to where they started at the beginning of this technique?

You will be surprised to find the "bucket" arm is definitely lower than the arm with the balloon. There is no explanation for this other than you were intensely focused on the thought of heaviness in one arm and the thought of lightness in the other. And, as you can see, the responses occurred automatically.

 The basic premise is if you think or believe strongly enough in something, you are more likely to cause it to happen. That’s why people who expect failure all the time become failures, and conversely, those who expect success are more likely to become successes. You automatically produce what you believe. This explains the phenomenon known as the "self-fulfilling prophecy." This is how the mind works. If a person goes through life constantly focusing on heavy negative thoughts he will be dragged down into the hellish aspects of life. If on the other hand this person is always focusing on positive uplifting thoughts, he will be uplifted to the more heavenly aspects of life.

The concept has been around for centuries in fact. It's been said in other words before: "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." (“thinkest in his heart” is another way of saying “deeply believes”)

From Whence Comes The Power of SPC

Listen To Dr. Barrios  (digital only)

     The SPC techniques help to bring out this basic potential we all have, the potential of free will. Each SPC technique involves responding to a series of suggestions. As you respond positively to each step of the SPC technique, you are producing a compounding belief-building effect. With each positive response the belief is increased thus allowing you to respond even more strongly to the next response thus building the belief factor even more. Belief in what? – Belief that you can control your automatic, subconscious behavior. With each positive response, with increasing belief, the inhibitory set becomes stronger and stronger – blocking off the negative programs that usually interfere with the suggested response.

    SPC is different from other self-help programs because it more effectively helps build up the most important factor for facilitating positive change, the power of positive believing.   

      While other books and methods pontificate about the power of positive thinking, it takes more than just “thinking” to make critical and difficult changes in your life. Do not get me wrong, I believe in the power of positive thinking, but  Breaking Free with SPC- picks up where the Power of Positive Thinking (Peale, 1956) leaves off. Think of SPC as providing the added-value of positive believing to positive thinking. Norman Vincent Peale said it best when he used the “rocket ship” analogy to get across the importance of believing. In his last book, The Power of Positive Living (Peale, 1992), he said “Think of positive thinking as a rocket ship and positive believing as the fuel that will lift this rocket ship to the stars.”

Do not worry, you will not have to walk on a hot bed of coals (a la Tony Robbins) or run through a trail of broken glass or handle poisonous snakes to get you to believe in the power of your mind to control the subconscious. The SPC self-belief-building techniques will be all you need to produce the all-powerful rocket fuel that will lift you to the stars. The key to how these techniques heighten the state of belief is immediate feedback it provides immediate proof of the power of the mind to control automatic responses. In the Arms technique, for instance, seeing that the arms actually moved was proof of the power of the mind to cause things to happen automatically. In the Pendulum technique (p. 55), seeing the pendulum you are holding actually swinging “by itself” when you focus on the thought that it will start swinging is very convincing of the power of the mind to control automatic responses.  

And as has already been mentioned, there is also a compounding effect that builds up the belief factor even more. With each positive response, the belief has been increased which in turn increases even more the probability of a positive response to the next  suggestion. A positive response to each step involves a certain amount of inhibition of competing or contradictory thoughts and stimuli. With each additional positive response, this elimination of competition increases, so that theoretically, at the end of a series of such steps, it is much greater than it was to begin with. Thus, the stronger the response. The result of this elimination of competing negative thoughts is analogous to a tug of war where the other side suddenly lets go.

 An even better analogy to illustrate the power of SPC is to think of SPC as a laser beam.  Laser beams are very powerful; it can cut through hard thick steel. But how many know a laser beam is ordinary light treated to bring all of its rays into harmony. Ordinary light emits rays in all directions and at different phases. However, a laser beam has all of the rays emitted in one direction and all at the same the phase. The resulting concentration from lack of conflict is what produces the tremendous power of the laser beam.


 There are two ways the heightened state of belief created by the SPC techniques can play a key role to affect changes in your behavior. In addition to controlling current behavior by intensifying the response to a particular thought at any given point in time, it can also play a key role in affecting future behavior by facilitating the programming in (conditioning in) of a new positive behavior. The new positive behavior will then automatically occur in all future relevant situations. SPC facilitates such re-programming by blocking out, any interference from previously programmed contradictory behavior, at the time of the new imprinting.

 We have vast knowledge about programming and re-programming computers. However, when it comes to re-programming the main computer - the “human mind” computer - most people don’t have a clue. The first and most important factor to reach self-actualization, then, is to “get control” over your programming. We have all been programmed in one way or another from a very early age If you are fortunate to have had nothing but positive programming all your life, then you do not need this book. Unfortunately, a large percentage of people have picked up a number of bad programs along the way. In addition, these programs are deeply embedded and are very hard to re-program (re-condition) using ordinary means. Breaking Free provides the techniques to facilitate re-programming and thus allows us to take a step closer to self-actualization.

      You will also be taught several effective ways of programming in your goals and suggestions once you have achieved the SPC state - the state of increased receptivity to positive thoughts. The basis of this approach is the use of imagery to reinforce suggestions. After going through the SPC technique, you will use your imagination to project yourself into a variety of situations dealing with your goal and visualize yourself responding positively in each. This is as opposed to just talking to yourself. The old saying "A picture is worth a thousand words" holds very true here.

 The SPC techniques because of their belief building capabilities make the self-programming or use of imagery that much more effective. The combination of the two produces the optimum results.

The Stress Control Biofeedback Card

 The Stress Control Biofeedback Card (Barrios, 1983) which I developed and introduced nationally back in 1984 is an important part of the SPC program. First of all, it is a most valuable aid in helping to control stress, more valuable even than the much more expensive electronic biofeedback devices costing in the thousands of dollars - because it is so portable and can be used whenever and wherever you are stressed. It is also a great self-empowerment tool. Just like the SPC techniques, it too plays an important role in building the belief or self-efficacy factor – by providing concrete evidence that you can indeed control physiological responses, in this case controlling the blood flow to your hands.  

 The device indicates the level of tension by measuring the temperature of the fingertips. The temperature has a direct correlation to tension level. This is based on the physiological principle known as the “fight or flight response.” When the body's defenses are triggered (by a real or perceived danger; i.e., when one is in a state of anxiety or tension) the blood surges to the inner muscles, where it’s most needed to fight or flee, and consequently away from the extremities. At this point the hands (and feet) should be cold. (This is where the expression “What, do you have, cold feet?” – meaning “What, are you afraid” - comes from.)

You can see the Stress Card at my website:

On the other hand the circulation to the hands is normal when relaxed and at this point the hands should be warm. So from now on when you shake hands with someone and find his hand to be cold, you can be pretty sure he is not very relaxed at that moment, unless of course he has just come in from the cold or has been holding a cold glass in his hand. Also room temperature should be normal for this test to be valid.

 The Stress Card is composed of a temperature-sensitive strip. As indicated on the card, the strip can go through a range from black to red to green to blue as the temperature rises. The strip does not start responding until the temperature of 86o F is reached. At that point the color of the strip should be a reddish-brown. As a person becomes more relaxed and the fingertip temperature rises, the color of this strip will go from black to red to green and then to blue.

The blue color indicates being relaxed and first appears at a fingertip temperature of 95o F. Thermal biofeedback research has found this is the criterion temperature indicative of a person being relaxed (Libo & Arnold, 1983). So if a person can consistently learn to achieve a fingertip temperature of 95o F or higher, he can get rid of most stress-related problems. This includes such stress indicants as frequent headaches, insomnia, stomach problems, fatigue, irritability, etc.

 The main purpose of the Stress Card is to act as a type of reinforcement of the SPC shortcut relaxation techniques (found on the back of the card) by measuring the change in tension produced after going through each technique. When a person sees the actual color change produced, he has concrete proof of the technique's effectiveness. .He can really believe. I feel this "knowledge of results” aspect of biofeedback training is the main reason for its effectiveness in helping to gain control over involuntary behavior – primarily because of the heightened belief thereby produced.

 One indication of how valuable the Stress Card is can be seen in the fact that millions have been sold all over the world. Some of the biggest users include The American Heart Association, The American Cancer Society, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross Blue Shield, the US Navy, the Army and the Air Force.

Listen to Dr. Barrios Explain SPC (digital version only)

Overview of SPC

There are certain general goals in the SPC program. They include greater control over the ability to relax, development of more positive attitudes, habits and emotions, and development of a more positive attitude regarding mental capacity. The individual more or less fills in the specifics with regard to these general goals and also includes any personal goals desired. More details will be given in later chapters on how to apply SPC to a variety of problems and goals.

 The greater control developed through SPC leads to an enhanced sense of worth, self-reliance and self-confidence, and as has been pointed out by others (Danskin and Walters, 1973), this seems to be one of the greatest benefits from self-control programs. Perhaps this is because, as Adler believed, most of man's problems can be traced to a lack of self-confidence. This would also seem to fit in with Maltz's(1960) statement that 95% of the population has, or has had at one time, some type of inferiority complex.

 This feeling of greater control also makes the possibility of positive change and reaching the level of self-actualization really believable. Thus, our mind is now more receptive to anything that would aid in reaching this level, such as the Positive Direction component of the program found in the second half of the book.          

 The Positive Direction Component

  The Positive Direction component is made up of six basic parts:

(1) Positive Attitudes;

(2) Harnessing and optimizing the Emotions including Happiness; Love, Anger and Guilt

(3) Optimizing Sex;

(4) Eliminating Excesses and Other Bad Habits;

(5) Health and Eternal Youth; and

(6) Expansion of Mental Capacity.

  The Positive Attitudes part includes developing more positive attitudes toward: oneself, others, mistakes, failure and tragic situations. It also includes a section on development of greater assertiveness. The Emotions section shows how to maximize the positive and minimize the negative aspects derived from emotions such as happiness, love, jealousy, fear, guilt and anger. The section on sex is aimed at learning how to maximize the joys associated with sex while avoiding its pitfalls and not letting it control us.

 The section on Habits shows us how to control such excesses as over-eating, smoking, drinking, drug-taking, TV watching, etc. It can also cover such habits as procrastination, nail-biting, bed-wetting, lack of exercise, etc. In the section on Health we discuss the three basic ways the mind can adversely influence a person's state of health: namely, through psychological stress, bad habits, and a poor will to live. By effectively dealing with these factors the SPC program can help considerably in the prevention and even the cure of a large number of illnesses. These include not only such stress-related diseases as high blood pressure, heart disease, ulcers, asthma, colitis, etc., but also such depression-related diseases as cancer, and AIDS as well as such germ or virus-caused diseases as TB, infectious mononucleosis and even the common cold (via SPC's positive effect on the immune system). Also covered in this section is how to live to be 100 and stay young doing it.

 The final section, Expansion of Mental Capacity, is aimed at bringing out a person's true potential with regard to such faculties as memory, studying, problem solving and creativity. The basic premise here is geniuses are not born with oversized brains; they merely learn the most efficient ways to use their brains. I feel everyone is a potential genius, and to develop this natural gift all you have to do is learn similar efficiency techniques.            

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You may visit Dr. Barrios’s website at:, and read the rest of his book by clicking on the "Digital Media" tab.
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Article originally posted: November 23, 2014

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