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ED 382 006 

FL 022 899 





Bancroft, W. Jane 

The Western Tradition of Suggestion and Lozanov's 




Reports - Evaluative/Feasibility (142) — Viewpoints 
(Opinion/Position Papers, Essays, etc.) (120) 

MF01/PC01 Plus Postage. 

Class Activities; Classroom Techniques; ^Educational 
Strategies; Foreign Countries; Non Western 
Civilization; *Psychoeducational Methods; *Second 
Language Instruction; *Suggestopedia; Western 

^Suggestion; Suggestology 


It is argued that while Georgi Lozanov ! s suggestology 
and suggestopedic methods are informed by work in the field of 
suggestion in the former Soviet bloc, his work has also been 
influenced by work on suggestion in the west, particularly in France, 
where suggestion is a more controversial technique. For Lozanov, 
suggestion is a normal phenomenon and a positive concept. His 
contribution was not only in linking suggestion to education, but 
also of integrating many types of suggestion (direct, indirect, 
command, relax, verbal, nonverbal, group, environmental) into the 
educational process and directing suggestion toward liberating the 
unconscious reserves of the human mind. The suggestopedic method for 
language teaching incorporates these theoretical elements: authority 
of the teacher; prestige of institution; infanti lization; 
double-planeness; rhythm; intonation; and concert pseudo-passivity or 
receptivity. In the classroom, various forms of suggestion are used 
to create maximum learning effect. Experience indicates that use of 
suggestion techniques in the classroom can benefit students both 
academically and personally, and that the subject of suggestion in 
education should be of greater concern and the object of more 
research in western education. 


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The Western Tradition of Suggestipn and Lozanov's Suggestology/Suggestopedia 

W. Jane Bancroft, Scarborough Campus, University of Toronto 

o Abstract 


**° While Lozanov's Suggestology and Suggestopedia owe a good deal to work done in the 

Q field of suggestion in the countries of the former Soviet bloc, Lozanov has also been 

w influenced by work done on suggestion in the West (and in France, in particular). 

In contrast to Russia and Eastern Europe where suggestion is widely used in medicine 
and psychotherapy, in the West, suggestion has had a highly controversial history. 
Generally speaking, both suggestion and suggestibility (or openness to suggestion) 
have negative overtones for Western researchers and tend to be linked to conditioning 
and irrational behavior(s). For Lozanov, however, like Bernheim and Binet, suggestion 
is a normal phenomenon, one that appeals to both logic and emotion. Suggestion (Le^ 
waking suggestion), according to Lozanov, is an integral part of psychotherapy, the 
various arts and pedagogy. Lozanovian suggestibility is also a positive concept, linked 
to emotion, intuition and sensitivity, as well as to motivation and positive expectations. 

Lozanov's principal contribution to the field of suggestion is not only that of linking 
suggestion to education, but also that of integrating many types of suggestion (direct, 
indirect, command, relaxed [or "whispering"], verbal, nonverbal, group, environmental, 
etc.) into the educational process and of directing suggestion (i.e., positive suggestion) 
towards liberating the unconscious reserves (or untapped capabilities ) of the human mind 

A form of group therapy based on suggestion, the suggestopedic method for language 
teaching incorporates the following original theoretical elements: authority of the teacher 
and prestige of the educational institution; infantilization (confidence and spontaneity 
of the students); double-planeness (the suggestions coming from the environment 
and from the teacher); rhythm; intonation (or tone[s] of voice); concert pseudo- 
passivity (receptivity and "suggestibility" of the students when relaxing and listening 
to certain types of music). The three "new" principles (especially that of the suggestive 
link) also relate to suggestion as do the "new" means: p^chotogical, didactic and artistic. 

rw In the suggestopedic language classroom, various forms of suggestion are used to 
create the maximum learning effect. Teachers are specially trained in the art of 
suggestion (especially gestural and vocal). The classroom atmosphere is positive and 
the classroom decor esthetically pleasing. Language dialogues are not only relevant 
/ but also emotionally appealing. Students engage in role-play, games, songs and 

(\ sketches. Various tones of voice are used to present language materials and to 

"suggest" their meaning. During the concert session, the maximum suggestive effect 

q> is achieved when the language materials, are read over a musical background. 

Suggestopedia shows that the use of suggestion techniques in the classroom can benefit 
students both academically and personally and that the subject of suggestion in 
education should be a greater object of concern and research for Western and North 
American educators. 



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The Western Tradition of Suggestion 
and Lozanou's Suggestotogy/Suggestopedia 
W. Jane Bancroft 

It is very evident from reading his thesis, Suqestoloqiia , and his book, Suqqestoloqy 
and Outlines of Suqqestopedv , and by perusing the bibliographies contained in these 
volumes, that Dr. Lozanov is well versed in the theory, practice and history of 
suggestion, not only in Eastern Europe and Russia but also in the West. Lozanov's 
Suggestology (the science of suggestion) and Suggestopedia ( the application of 
suggestion to pedagogy) are highly original creations, but they nonetheless owe a 
good deal to work previously done in the field of suggestion in the countries of the 
former Soviet bloc (and, in particular, Bulgaria and Russia). Lozanov has also been 
influenced by work done on suggestion in the United States and in Western Europe 
(especially in France by Bernheim, Binet, Baudouin, Janet, Charcot and Liebault ). 

In contrast to Russia and Eastern Europe where suggestion is widely used in 
medicine and psychotherapy, in the West, suggestion has had a highly controversial 
history and, indeed, the subject is still surrounded by controversy. While, in times past, 
it has been intertwined with magic and religion, in more modern times (since Mesmer 
and the late 18th century), although nearly every important psychologist (Binet, 
Bernheim, Freud, James, Janet, McDougall, Pavlov, Sidis, Wundt) dealt with the 
subject and suggestion together with hypnosis enjoyed an enormous vogue in the late 
19th and early 20th centuries, suggestion has been linked to the stimulation of 
irrational behavior(s), to conditioning and psychopathology, in addition to hypnosis. 
(With or without the induction of hypnosis, however, suggestion can have very powerful 
effects and hypnosis can be induced without suggestion). Hippolyte Bernheim in the 
19th century defined suggestion as an "act by which an idea is introduced into the 



brain and accepted by it" 1 and linked suggestion to persuasion and reason. Other 

researchers have proposed that suggestion need not be opposed to reason and that 
the influence of suggestion can be enhanced through argumentation. Suggestion, 
however, is derived from the Latin subgero or subqere and means "to carry (on) or 
conduct underneath" and the term tends to be linked to manipulation. The standard 
definition of suggestion to which scientists in the West adhere is the insinuation of a 
belief or impulse into the mind; the introduction or bringing about the acceptance of 
an idea without critical argument or rational persuasion. (Sidis described a suggestion 

as an intrusive idea that was accepted in an uncritical and automatic fashion). 2 

McDougall's 1908 definition, while one of the earliest, is still widely accepted. He 
stated that suggestion is a "process of communication resulting in the acceptance with 
conviction of the communicated proposition in the absence of logically adequate 

grounds for its acceptance." 3 Whereas the attitude of the recipient is important if 

suggestion is to work, the "charm" of the communicator, his (or her) attitude and 
expectations, voice and body language exert a decisive effect on the listener so that 
the idea or message proposed is accepted. (Researchers on suggestion point out the 
extreme importance of voice quality on perception of a message transferred and on 

the willingness to act on this message). 4 A warm, sympathetic personality generally 

facilitates the sending and increases the impact of a suggestion as does a good 
relationship between sender and receiver. 

Whether directly or indirectly, authoritatively or persuasively, implicitly or explicitly, 
overtly or discreetly, deliberately or unintentionally, the subject's behavior or 
experience will be always guided in a certain di. action by the suggester. Suggestion 
can be an action, a process and a result (the subconscious realization of an idea). The 




word "suggestion" can refer to a specific influential message or communication (e.g., 
"the room is becoming very hot")- Or the same word can refer to parts of the larger 
process, or the entire process by which suggestions are delivered and received. (For 
instance, someone could refer to the "suggestion situation" or the "suggestion 
procedure" or the "suggestion process"). A person might also state that an act or belief 
was the result of suggestion, which implies the method as well as the message. 

There are different methods or communication channels by which suggestions are 
conveyed: heterosuggestion (from one individual to another); collective ( group or 
mass) suggestion; auto-suggestion (in which the subject acts on him [her] self). In the 
final analysis, all suggestion may be auto-suggestion in the sense that the thought acts 

on the body and one reinforces or acts upon an idea one wants to realize. 5 

Suggestions may be spontaneous (i.e., they occur by themselves), applied (produced 
through commands or persuasion from one person to another) or "relaxed" (executed 
in a soft, soothing tone of voice). The force of a suggestion can have an effect on the 
receiver. Suggestions that are presented gently will be perceived differently from 
those delivered with emotive and shock value. Responses can also be expected to 
vary in terms of the amount of "request" or "command" inherent in the suggestion. 
Command suggestions emanating from an authority figure such as a military leader or 
prison warden brook no alternatives and no disobedience. At the other extreme, 
relaxed, persuasive suggestions are generally used in religion and medicine. A factor 
related to force of suggestion is duration of suggestion. In the same way that degree of 
force can influence the receiver, long-lasting or repetitious suggestions vary in 
effectiveness from suggestive communications which have very brief periods of 
exposure (or duration). 

Suggestions may be given, usually by a therapist or medical doctor, while the 



subject or recipient is in a state of sleep, hypnosis or the waking state (as Lozanov's 
research shows). As defined by Wagstaff, a hypnotic suggestion is one that is delivered 
during or after the initial part of the hypnotic induction procedure and involves 
instructions to the subject suggesting to him or her that s/he will respond in a certain 
way. Wagstaff adds that these instructions always occur while the person is said to be 

under the influence of induction and before the individual is told to "wake up." 6 

Nonhypnotic (or "waking" ) suggestions, on the other hand, are those which are 
administered without formal hypnotic induction procedures. A distinction has been 
made between normal suggestion (which takes place when the subject is in a waking 
state) and abnormal suggestion (which takes place in the condition of hypnosis). 
However, there is still a lack of agreement among researchers concerning a useful 
definition for hypnosis. 

Suggestions may be direct or indirect; verbal or non-verbal. In direct suggestion, the 
desired or expected result or response to the suggestion is stated clearly - as in a 
command, for example. Indirect suggestion does not make explicit the response 
expected, but leaves the result of suggestion to the subject. Instead of openly 
commanding or dictating to the subject, the experimenter produces some object or 
makes a movement, a gesture, which in silent fashion tells the subject what to do. 
Indirect suggestion is a permissive mode of influencing or a method of indirect appeal 
to the person to be influenced and direct suggestion is an authoritative one. Verbal 
suggestions are conveyed by language content. Nonverbal suggestions include tone 
of voice, body language, clothing and environmental stimuli; cues given may be visual, 
auditory (or, indeed, kinesthetic, gustatory or olfactory). Suggestions may be positive 
or negative or even neutral. Suggestion may be personal or impersonal. Suggestion 
generally works best if it is in the direction of the individual's (or society's) values and 

erJc s 


culture and if the interests of the recipient are in harmony with those of the sender (or 

Suggestibility refers to the effectiveness of a given kind of suggestion under 

carefully stated conditions for a given individual. 7 Suggestibility is generally defined 

as the degree to which a person is open to suggestion; the term "suggestibility" is used 

to indicate a person's propensity to respond to suggested communications. 8 in the 

West, although researchers such as Binet and Sidis were concerned with proving that 
something like normal suggestibility exists and that it could be observed empirically, 
suggestibility has generally been viewed as a less than noble human characteristic 
and is often linked, not only to hypnotizability and conditioning, but also to conformity 
to (qr compliance with) group pressure; lack of individuality; tendency to 
submissiveness; susceptibility to preconceived ideas and manipulation; memory 
distortion; weakness and immaturity; instability and indecisiveness; credulity, gullibility 
and even simplemindedness; to be "suggestible" is to be easily influenced by ideas 
provided by other persons and to subordinate oneself to an authority figure and/or a 
group. Certain factors are said to have an influence on suggestibility (or to create a 
state of suggestibility): the authority and behavior of the information source (we do not 
tend to accept suggestions from persons whom we consider to be of lower standing 
and inferior power); an attitude of obedience to authority on the part of the recipient 
and his/her confidence or faith in the suggested idea (i. e., the expectations and 
attitudes of the recipient). The personal characteristics of the communicator and an 
individual's motivation or willingness to respond to suggestions are important aspects 
of research into suggestion. 

While there is a good deal of controversy in the field of suggestion and 
suggestibility in the West, there is general agreement that there are differences in the 




range of suggestibility and that the degree and speed of acting on suggestions can be 
measured. A considerable amount of research has attempted to delineate specific 
variables that relate to suggestibility: age, sex, intellectual capacity, personality 
characteristics, mental health status, and so on. Since most suggestibility tests are, in 
effect, a measure of hypnotizability, most of these variables (in spite of the pioneering 
experiments by Binet in the late 19th century to assess the suggestibility of a person 
without hypnosis) have been studied in the context of hypnotic responsiveness. 
Certain personality variables are associated with increased compliance to suggestive 
communications. Students tend to be conditioned to accept the suggestions of 
authority figures without persuasion or argument. Children are generally more 
suggestible than adults (probably because the former are more trusting and more 
influenced by the authority of the source of the suggestion). Responsiveness to 
suggestion decreases with age. Although the findings in this area are mixed, women 
tend to be more suggestible than men. Less education and an undeveloped critical 
sense (or a lack of awareness of the "suggestion process") make for increased 
suggestibility as do such environmental conditions as subdued lighting and soft and/or 
rhythmical music. An attitude of trust (or love) makes one more suggestible as do 
states of drowsiness or fatigue, relaxation and hypnosis. The period before going to 
sleep is one of maximum suggestibility. Hypnosis itself has been defined as the 

placing of an individual in a highly suggestible state or as "enhanced suggestibility." 9 

Suggestibility may be classified into primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary 
suggestibility is the most commonly researched; it is the result of direct suggestions 
(usually verbal and monotonous-sounding ones) that yield automatic, non-volitional 
ideo-motor responses. The experimenter suggests an idea or an activity (such as 
body sway, arm levitation, for example) by means of a concrete stimulus and the 




recipient's movements or muscular activities, which occur involuntarily because of the 
thought or image of a movement, are observed and evaluated. (Primary suggestibility 
is linked to hypnotizability) Secondary suggestibility is linked to the sensory 
processes and indirection; it involves indirect suggestion wherein the communicator 
does not make explicit the desired behavior and there is no correlation with 

hypnotizability. 1 0 To provoke this type of suggestibility, the experimenter suggests an 

idea or an activity based on the imagination, expectations or on auditory or visual 
stimuli. The Progressive Lines and the Ink Blot tests are commonly regarded as 
measures of this type of suggestibility. Tertiary suggestibility (which some 
psychologists believe exists) is based on "prestige" suggestion(s) coming from the 
society or a high-status individual and involves attitude change consequent upon 
persuasive communications originating from a prestige source. Certain of these 

suggestions relate to social norms; others are of an "information" type. 1 1 It is well 

known that there are many other forms of communication that can be interpreted as 
suggestions, including "leading questions," now categorized as interrogative 

suggestibility. 12 

According to researchers such as Vladimir Gheorghiu, suggestion is by no means 
a marginal aspect of cognitive activity: "suggestion phenomena are subsumed under 
various psychological categories and are part of many cognitive and social 

processes." 1 3 Suggestion is used, with both positive and negative consequences, 

not only in religion and magic but also in medicine and therapy, as well as in politics, 
advertising and education. Primitive medicine was (and is) largely based on 
suggestion. Magical rites were (and are) techniques of suggestive therapy, used for 
positive or negative effects.The suggestive power of religion and religious leaders has 





been demonstrated throughout history. Faith healing probably works through the 
power of suggestion (suggestions can be used to achieve profound organic or 
physiological changes) and depends both on the power of the suggestion(s) and the 
suggestibility of the "patient." Suggestion has been used in surgery (especially in 
Eastern Europe) to relieve pain; it has been postulated that acupuncture works, at 
least in part, through suggestion. (It has been hypothesized, too, that, had it not been 
for the discovery of anesthetics, hypnosis and suggestion would undoubtedly have 
become much more popular in modern medical circles). Drugs (new ones, in 
particular) are said to work because of the "placebo" effect - the confidence the doctor 
expresses in their efficacity. Many books and articles have been written about the use 
of "suggestion" in advertising (suggestion is said to be an indispensable aspect of 
media advertising) and the conveying of political messages. In education, if is 
assumed that everyone acts on a rational basis, on the basis of reason as opposed to 
emotion. However, as researchers such as Rosenthal and others have found, 
education is not an entirely intellectual and rational process. Students may remain 
unchanged by intellectual arguments but can be changed by suggestion(s) directed 
towards the unconscious. Self-image and confidence as well as learning can be 
improved through the use of strategically employed suggestion(s) in the classroom. 
Suggestion can be used in a humanistic way to create successful learning 
experiences for students of all (or varying) abilities. 

For Lozanov, in contrast to many (or most) Western researchers, suggestion is a 
normal phenomenon, one that is a natural (and universal) part of human experience. 
Suggestion is inherent in everyday human communication on a verbal and a 
nonverbal level; it appeals to both logic and emotion. (Following Bernheim, Lozanov 

believes that "suggestion is in everything"). 14 According to Lozanov, "interpersonal 




communications are always global and simultaneously conscious and unconscious." 1 5 

Any sensation or perception coming from the external world is a suggestion, whether it 
is unconscious or intentional. Although he does not mention him in his bibliography, 
Lozanov would be in agreement with Titchner who stated that suggestion is "any 
stimulus, external or internal, accompanied or unaccompanied by consciousness, 

which touches off a determining tendency." 1 6 Lozanov defines suggestion in his 

thesis as follows: "Suggestion is a constant communicative factor which chiefly 
through paraconscious mental activity can create conditions for tapping the functional 
reserve capacities of personality" (p. 201 ). Suggestology/ Suggestopedia is 
particularly interested in the investigation and utilization of subsensory signals or 
subliminal stimuli wtvch come from the teacher and/or therapist and from the physical 
and social environment and which are absorbed into the unconscious mind before 
receiving a conscious expression. 

Lozanov is interested in individual (hetero) suggestion but he is especially 
interested in collective (or group) suggestion. Lozanov uses the possibilities of 
collective suggestion principally in psychotherapy and pedagogy. Following in a 
certain East European and Russian tradition, Lozanov insists that any 
psychotherapeutical method (and, indeed, any medical cure) is essentially based on 
suggestion. (In Suggestology and Outlines of Suaaestopedv . he details his clinical 
work using suggestion, especially the "whispering method," for curing ailments and 
reducing or alleviating pain, as well as his experiments using suggestion in "painless 
surgery" [ pp. 1 14 ff]). His principal contribution to the field of suggestion, however, is 
that of linking suggestion to education, of integrating all types of suggestion (direct, 
indirect, verbal, nonverbal, interpersonal, environmental, etc.) into the educational 
process and of directing suggestion towards liberating the unconscious reserves (or 



untapped capabilities) of the human mind. 

Like Binet and Sidis, Lozanov prefers indirect suggestion - as it is longer lasting - 
and he believes that suggestion can be beneficial if it bypasses the "critical-logical 
barrier" (i.e., what researchers call our "conscious monitoring authority ), especially 
insofar as human capacities are concerned. Although he has performed experiments 
using suggestion in sleep and hypnosis ( especially hypnotic age regression), 

following Binet and Bernheim, 17 Lozanov prefers to use suggestion in the waking 

state - both in group therapy and for purposes of enhancing learning, (in S uggestologv 
and Outlines of Suggestopedv . Lozanov states that "suggestion by itself is sufficient to 
improve memorization and there is no need for hypnosis" [p. 153] and "our investigations 
and the practice of suggestopedy have proved that hypermnesia can be found not only 
in a state of hypnosis, but in a suggestive [and waking] atmosphere as well" [p. 151]). 
Suggestions used by the therapist or teacher must, however, be positive ones, those 

which provoke in the patient (or student) positive behavior modifications. 18 Negative 

suggestions (especially those which set limits on possibilities for healing or learning) 
must be abolished through a process of de suggestion. Indeed, for Lozanov, the 
suggestive process itself is "always a combination of suggestion and desuggestion" 
(p. 166). Desuggestion frees a person from former limiting and discouraging (auto) 
suggestions, while suggestion provides creative encouragement for new norms 
concerning the capacities of the individual (p. 184). Lozanov is interested in verbal 
(and nonverbal) suggestion(s) which can bring about positive psychological (and 
physiological) changes in the patient/student; the latter, however, in a waking state, is 
aware of what is going on and participates in the process at both the conscious and 
unconscious levels. For Lozanov, in contrast to most Western researchers, a logical 
presentation can have its own "suggestive effect" (p. 59). 



For Lozanov, suggestion, then, is a positive concept. So, too, is the concept of 
suggestibility (or openness to suggestion). While expressing criticisms of Western 
definitions of suggestibility, in a note in Suggestoloay and Outlines of Suqqestopedv 
(p. 61), Lozanov says that "H. Bernheim (1887) and the Nancy School, in general, 
maintained that everyone is suggestible under given conditions and that suggestibility 
is not a symptom of morbidity"; it is a normal phenomenon that can be observed 
empirically. Although Sidis is not listed in the Lozanov bibliography, Lozanov appears 

to follow Sidis' example in considering the human being to be "a suggestible animal." 1 9 

Lozanov considers suggestibility a universal faculty 20 and, like Binet, 21 links it to 

emotion, intuition and affectivity(or sensitivity) as well as to positive expectations, 
imaginative involvement and the capacity to control the focus of attention. For 
Lozanov, the act of responding to a suggestive communication, which requires that the 
individual override or inhibit the mental faculties involved in logic and critical analysis, 
may have positive results if logical and critical analysis inhibit memory, memorization 
and learning capacities. Lozanov's idea of suggestibility corresponds to Annette 
Shuck's in her article, "Suggestion in Education," in that suggestibility is similar to 
motivation or a change in expectancy. Suggestibility is thus "redefined" as: a) a 
willingness to do what the suggester asks; b) a belief in one's ability to do it; and c) the 
ability to do it. According to Shuck, high suggestibility might therefore be used as an 

indicator for predicting learning performance. 22 

Certain of Lozanov's experiments at the Institute of Suggestology were designed to 
test for student suggestibility ( Suggestoloay and Outlines of Suggestopedv . [pp. 221 ff]) 
and an outline of tests for primary and secondary suggestibility is inducted in Chapter IV, 
"Towards a General Theory of Suggestion" ( pp. 63-71). Lozanov also researched 
such elements as music and relaxation which could increase suggestive/receptive 




capacities in the students and evaluated this "suggestibility" scientifically (through 
pulse and brain v,ave measurements, for example). As the individual becomes more 
relaxed, he/she becomes more open to positive suggestions - especially if the general 
atmosphere is relaxed and pleasant. When conducting his research, Lozanov found 
that, while in a state of relaxation, students are more suggestible and can receive 
information more readily - in the form of (ideally positive) "suggestions" coming from 
the environment and/or from the teacher. 23 

For Lozanov (as mentioned above), suggestion must normally be used when the 
recipient is in the waking state; in addition, following the East European and Russian 
tradition, Lozanov believes that suggestion, whether used in medicine or education, 
must be therapeutic. Suggestion must also be artistic. The therapist or teacher must 
have the capacities of the trained actor; in the classroom, "suggestive" elements of the 
various arts (music, theatre, fine arts, etc.) must be used to enhance the teaching 
process. The teacher must be trained in advance to use suggestion in a positive 
manner and in all of its aspects. 

The suggestopedic method for language teaching is a form of group therapy 
based on suggestion. 24 Through suggestion(s) directed toward the conscious and 
the unconscious, students come to view learning as a positive, pleasurable and 
relaxing experience. (In addition, as Institute of Suggestology student questionnaires 
have revealed, Suggestopedia improves students' health). Suggestopedia uses 
suggestion, not as a manipulative technique, but in the context of a humanistic 
approach to learning; suggestions in Suggestopedia have a potentially significant 
impact on student performance and a beneficial, therapeutic effect in that the students 
increase their self-esteem and consideration for other members of the group. When 
students enjoy learning, they are much more likely to realize their full intellectual 



capabilities. 25 

The original theoretical elements of Suggestopedia are based on suggestion: 
authority of the teacher and prestige of the educational institution; infantilization 
(confidence and spontaneity of the students - increased through suggestions of child- 
like role-play or the setting up of an alternate identity); 26 double-planeness (the 

suggestions coming from the physical and social environment, especially the 
classroom atmosphere and decor, and from the body language and tone of voice of 
the teacher); rhythm (in particular, a repetitive stimulus such as a slow-moving, 
monotonous melody); intonation (or tone[s] of voice); concert pseudo-passivity 
(suggestibility and receptivity of the students when relaxing and listening to soft and 

slow-moving music). 27 Two of these original principles relate to the suggester 

(authority, double-planeness); two relate to the process of suggestion (rhythm, 

intonation); two relate to the suggestibility of the suggestee (infantilization 28 concert 

pseudo-passivity). The "new" principles (referred to in Chapter VI of Sugaestology 

and Outlines of Suggestopedv . "Characteristics of the Desuggestive-Suggestive, 
Liberating-Stimulating System'' [pp. 258ff]), viz. joy and absence of tension; the unity 
of conscious and paraconscious; the suggestive link; also relate to suggestion as do 
the "new" suggestopedic means: psychological, didactic and artistic. 

In the suggestopedic language class, various forms of suggestion (verbal, 
nonverbal; direct, indirect; etc.) are utilized in order to draw on the students' functional, 
intellectual and emotional "reserve potential" and to create a maximum learning effect. 
Classes are taught by highly competent, personable teachers specially trained in the 
art of suggestion (especially vocal and gestural). The classroom atmosphere is 
positive and the classroom decor has an esthetically pleasing appearance. 




Emotionally appealing and relevant foreign language dialogues, based on familiar 
situations, create spontaneous and positive reactions in the students. Students are 
also free to escape from the constraints of inhibiting, everyday reality through role- 
play, songs, games and sketches. In the original suggestopedic language class, three 
forms of suggestion (coming from Yoga): command, neutral, whisper, were utilized to 
enhance memorization of foreign language vocabulary during the "active" session. (In 
the second Bulgarian version, various tones of voice are used during the first, or 
"active" concert to achieve the same effect). During the original "passive" or "concert" 
session, the maximum suggestive effect was achieved when the language materials 
were read in a soft, soothing voice over a rhythmic background of slow movements 
from baroque chamber music while the students, with eyes closed, relaxed in their 
special chairs. (In the second version, the language material is read over complete 
works of baroque music). According to Lozanov, in every well organized 
communicative process based on suggestion, there is a leading procedure with a 
ritual or "placebo" meaning. In Suggestopedia, "ritualization and placebo-associating" 
are focused in the suggestopedic session (p. 268). 

While suggestion has been largely neglected in Western pedagogy or has been 
applied to teaching sporadically, in a very fragmented form or in the context of isolated 
experiments, Lozanov and his team of researchers and educators at the Institute of 
Suggestology in the 1960's and 1970's developed an original and global teaching 
method based on the scientific study of suggestion. Suggestopedia shows that the 
use of suggestion techniques in the classroom can benefit students on both an 
academic and a personal level and that the subject of suggestion in education should 
be a greater object of concern and research for Western and North American educators. 

Scarborough Campus, University of Toronto 




1 Hippolyte Bernheim, New Studies in Hypnotism , trans. Richard S. Sandor (New 
York: International Universities Press, 1980), p. 18. 

2 Boris Sidis, The Psychology of Suggestion (New York: Appleton & Co., 1907/ 
1898), p. 15. 

3 William McDougall, An Introduction to Social Psychology (London: Methuen, 
1926/1908), p. 83. There are many, more "modern" definitions of suggestion but they 
are in the same vein. Gordon AHport makes specific reference to the rational and 
critical thinking operations which are conspicuously disengaged during the suggestion 
process (Pattern and Growth in Personality [New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 
1961]). According to Allport, as a result of suggestion, an individual accepts a mode of 
behavior or a view without the processes of thought and judgment which properly 
should be present and play a part. H. J. Eysenck, W. Arnold and R. Meili define the 
suggestion process as one of "communication during which one or more persons 
cause one or more individuals to change (without critical response) their judgments, 
opinions, attitudes, etc., or patterns of behavior" ( Encyclopedia of Psychology [New 
York: The Seabury Press, 1979] p. 1077). Suggestion produces a "compliant 
response," as opposed to a "deliberate response to a request' (Ernest Hilgard, 
"Suggestibility and Suggestions as Related to Hypnosis," Human Suggestibility: 
Advances in Theory. Research and Application [New York: Routledge, 1991] p. 38). It 
is a class of behavior that is not the result of our higher levels of cognitive monitoring 
and control (John Schumaker, "The Adaptive Value of Suggestibility and 
Dissociation," Human Suggestibility , p. 110). 

4 T. Gehm et al., "Slight Manipulations with Great Effects: On the Suggestive Impact 
of Vocal Parameter Change," Suggestion and Suggestibility: Theory and Research 
(Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1989), p. 351. 



5 On the subject of suggestion transformed into autosuggestion, Coue is quoted by 
Charles Baudouin in Qu'est-ce que ia Suggestion (Paris: Le Hameau, 1982/1924), 
p. 82; and Baudouin is quoted by Lozanov in Suggestolooy and Outlines of 
Suggestopedv (New York: Gordon and Breach, 1978), p. 56. Emile Coue firmly 
hypothesized that if people want to change their feelings, behavior and physiology, 
they can do so more effectively by strongly giving themselves positive thoughts and 
directions, such as "Day by day, in every way, I am getting better and better". In the 
opinion of some researchers, Coue probably started the current popular trend of self- 
help books on positive thinking and visualization. 

6 G. F. Wagstaff, Hypnosis. Compliance and Beli ef (New York: St. Martin's Press, 
1981), pp. 14-15. 

7 Ernest Hilgard, "Suggestibility and Suggestions as Related to Hypnosis," p. 39. 

8 Sidis referred to suggestibility as "that peculiar state of mind which is favourable 
to suggestion" ( The Psychology of Suggestion , p. 15); Eysenck, Arnold and Meili refer 
to suggestibility as the "individual degree of susceptibility to influence by suggestion 
and hypnosis" ( Encyclopedia of Psychology , p. 1076). 

9See: Bernheim, New Studies in Hypnotism , p. 56 and p. 177. For a discussion of 
this matter, see: John Schumaker, "Introduction," Human Suggestibility , p. 10; and 
Etzel Cardena and David Spiegel, "Suggestibility, Absorption, and Dissociation: An 
Integrative Model of Hypnosis," Human Suggestibility, p. 93. 

1 °Secondary suggestibility is defined as "the experience on the part of the subject 
of a sensation or perception consequent upon the direct or implied suggestion by the 
experimenter that such an experience will take place, in the absence of any objective 
basis for the sensation or perception" (H. J. Eysenck, Dimensions of Personality 
[London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1947] p. 167). 




1 1 Bagriana Belanger, La Suaaestoloaie (Paris: Editions Retz, 1978), p. 74. 

12 G. H. Gudjonsson, "Theoretical and Empirical Aspects of Interrogative 
Suggestibility," Suggestion and Suggestibility , pp. 135-43. 

13 Vladimir Gheorghiu and Peter Kruse, "The Psychology of Suggestion: An 
Integrative Perspective," Human Suggestibility , p. 71 . 

14 Bernheim, New Studies in Hypnotism , p. 46. 

1 5 Georgi Lozanov, Suggestology and Outlines of Suggestopedv . p. 201 . Further 
page references to this work will be indicated, in brackets, in the text. 

16 E. B. Titchner, A Textbook of Psychology (New York: MacMillan, 1916). Quoted 
by V. Gheorghiu, "The Development of Research on Suggestibility: Critical 
Considerations," Suggestion and Suggestibility , p. 33. 

1 7 Belanger, La Suggestologie . pp. 53 ff. 

1 ^Inversely, positive emotions - produced, for example, by backgn'jnd music - 
increase receptivity of the target person or subject (see: R. M. Lundy, "The Internal 
Confirmation of Personal Constructs: Why Suggestions are Not Accepted," Suggestion 
and Suggestibility , p. 84). 

19 Sidis, The Psychology of Suggestk n, p. 17. 
20 Belanger, La Suggestologie . p. 72. 




21 See: Alfred Binet. La Suggestibility (Paris: Schleicher Freres, 1900), p. 3. 

22 Annette Shuck, "Suggestion in Education," Human Suggestibility , pp. 332-33. 

23 Researchers propose that suggestions about getting more and more comfortable 
may initiate a shift in autonomic system balance from sympathetic toward 
parasympathetic dominance. This shift is facilitated by stillness of the musculature and 
the consequent reduction in proprioceptive and kinesthetic sensation. Closing the 
eyes further enhances this change and often leads to alpha wave production and 
eventually theta wave production in the brain. See: John Shea, "Suggestion, Placebo 
and Expectation: Immune Effects and Other Bodily Changes," Human Suggestibility , 
p. 261. 

24 Belanger, La Suggestologie . p. 132. 

25 See: Annette Shuck, "Suggestion in Education" (pp. 331 ff.), in which 
suggestions for improved memory and motivation to learn were seen to result in better 
performances. The positive use of suggestions on learning included studies to 
improve reading performance of slow learning students. Suggestive procedures used 
to relax pupils before a difficult assignment are also seen as beneficial. 

26 Lozanov's infantilization may be compared to the process of "dissociation" in 
suggestive psychology that allows one to isolate and suppress his/her "conscious 
monitoring authority." In addition, as response to suggestion (i.e., suggestibility), as 
well as the capacity for memorization, decreases with chronological age, it is important 
to suggest to beginning language students that they are returning to a psychological 
state of childhood. 



27 Annette Shuck, in "Suggestion in Education" (pp. 329 ff ), mentions studies 
conducted in the 1940's in the United States in which relaxation, or a sustained state 
of relaxed alertness, was found to be the best mental state for learning. 

28 Binet says that suggestibility for the child is a form of confidence ( La 
Suaaestibilite . p. 390) and Lozanov, we recall, links infantilization to student 
confidence and spontaneity.