The Silva Method is the name given to a self help program developed by José Silva, which claims to increase an individual's IQ and sense of personal well-being by developing their higher brain functions. Proponents believe that it can improve a person's self image, allow them to think in a clearer manner, and that it can assist people in overcoming conditions such as nicotine addiction.
According to notable author Arthur C. Clarke and former stage magician James Randi, the Silva method consists of the application of positive thinking, visualization meditation, and self hypnosis. Some, including Silva himself, believe that it can be used to develop paranormal abilities such as ESP, and that practicing it can allow you to tap into a higher consciousness. It has been criticized as pseudoscience.
The Silva Method is one of a number of therapeutic techniques sometimes grouped under the name Human potential movement.
It developed out of Silva's belief that the thoughts and actions of 90% of the world's population were governed by the left hemisphere of their brain; limiting them using only logical, intellectual, objective means of problem resolution. Silva believed that by training people to think with both the right brain hemisphere as well as their left they could access information stored at a subconscious level. According to Skeptical author Robert Carroll, the Silva method appears to be based on the work of Roger Wolcott Sperry, but with Silva's own twists in it that make it an inaccurate model.
José Silva, founder of the Silva Method, claimed to have developed a program that trained people to enter certain brain states of enhanced awareness. He also claimed to have developed several systematic mental processes to use while in these states allowing a person to mentally project with a specific intent. According to Silva, once the mind is projected, a person can allegedly view distant objects or locations and connect with higher intelligence for guidance. The information received by the projected mind is then said to be perceived as thoughts, images, feelings, smells, taste and sound by the mind. The information obtained in this manner can be acted upon to solve problems.
In 1953, Silva believed he had trained his daughter to be psychic, and he introduced his training methods to Rhine with his daughter as proof. Over the next ten years, Silva claimed to have trained thirty-nine more subjects to be psychics. Another discovery claimed as successful is remote viewing. Rather than passively waiting for impressions to be perceived, a person projects him- or herself mentally and remotely views what is going on in a process similar to lucid dreaming. Silva became convinced that everyone has such abilities and can be taught to develop them, and that it is not an extra sense at all, but an unneeded—therefore undeveloped—sense. Everything happens first in the mind, he reasoned, then happens in the body. A person mentally decides to pick up a glass of water and drink it, then does it physically. Your life is the manipulation of the set rules of this universe, the trick is learning how to manipulate the rules right.
The Silva Method is now a multi-million dollar business with thousands of Silva Method instructors teaching the system over several days to groups of students in numerous countries worldwide. The system has spawned many books, some of them authored or co-authored by José Silva, with many others based on the basic principles of the method but spreading into other areas of awareness and application whilst in the alpha state.