Pamphlet Used for Autonomy Training Experiment

This is a translation of the pamphlet that was used in Grossarth-Maticek's intervention experiment. The subjects were asked to reread it regularly and try to apply it to their own life. The interviewer helped them to select a specific life-changing experiment and asked them to report the results when they returned two months later. This process was repeated six times. Our E-mail program will remind you much more often but the effort of  responding and rereading this paper is up to you.


Every human being has the ability to alter his behavior, and that of those around him, in such a way that he can attack his problems more successfully, and achieve a complete solution.

I How do problems develop which are in part due to your own actions?

Problems arise because you continue with a certain course of action, or maintain certain views and attitudes, which result in consequences that are negative, harmful and unpleasant. Possibly you expect positive, pleasant, agreeable consequences, such as the affection or love of somebody who is important to you, and suffer because this acceptable state of affairs is not realized.

II What can you do in order to solve the problem and overcome difficulties?

In principle, there are three things to be done:

(1) You can change your behavior in such a way that conditions (e.g. your interpersonal relations) are changed in such a way that you are placed in a better position (e.g. lose weight, smoke less, improve your interpersonal relations).

(2) You withdraw from situations which do nothing for you in the long run, and avoid conditions which are likely to do you harm.

(3) Change your mental attitudes and values, and in that way improve your general adjustment.

In these three ways you have a better chance to solve problems which before gave you difficulties.

III What are the important variables to consider if you want to change your behavior and your attitudes in order to solve your problems?

(A) You have to observe yourself carefully and try to answer the following questions:

(1) What are the conditions which produce distinctly negative, undesirable effects for you?

(2) Why can't you change these conditions? Is it possible that you may expect positive effects although usually the effects are negative?

(3) What new, alternative activities are there which would enable you to produce more positive consequences, and get rid of the negative ones?

(B) The first thing to do is to imagine new, alternative varieties of behavior. These activities may complement your usual type of behavior, or may completely change it. Next go on to try out the consequences of these new activities, both in your thoughts and emotionally. When you anticipate positive consequences from this new type of behavior, try it out in your everyday life.

(C) Always try to gain some insight into yourself, remember that your own needs and wishes are important, and that you should not always give way to others in order to preserve the peace.

IV What can you do when things don't work out?

Failure should always be regarded as the reason for trying out new types of behavior and activity. It should never be the cause of depression, but merely serve to enrich your range of experiences. Your principles should be geared to 'trial and error'; when some new type of activity does not lead to the expected success, abandon it and try something else. In doing so you may of course suffer sadness and despair, and express these emotions, but you should always try to act in such a way that your behavior leads to better and more acceptable consequences.

V What can you do when you have no idea what else you can do?

You can only accept that state of affairs, but continue to observe your own behavior in order to discover the conditions which prevent you from achieving satisfaction and happiness.

VI The most important aims of autonomous self-activation

(1) Your aim should always be to produce conditions which make it possible for you to lead a happy and contented life.

(2) To increase the positive consequences of your behavior, and to reduce the negative consequences - go for what makes you happy, abandon what makes you unhappy.

VII What is the role of other people in helping to solve your problems?

The aim of autonomy training is not to be a completely independent person, but someone who is able to create the possible conditions which lead to pleasure and contentment. You will often find that the support and help of other people can be of great assistance. Consequently, it is usually important to enlist the help and assistance of other people. When you have a problem, such as giving up alcohol, or reducing weight, then try to enter into a contract with another person who will hold you to your promises. When you cannot solve the problem by yourself, it is very helpful to have an obligation to another person to stand by the rules you have agreed on, such as not to eat more than 1000 calories per day.

VIII How do you achieve autonomous self-regulation?

You are in a state of autonomous self-regulation when you succeed through your own activities, e.g. sport or jogging, refreshing sleep, production of good interpersonal relations, to achieve an inner equilibrium and contentment, and respond appropriately to deviations from this equilibrium. You will avoid dependence on other people and conditions which produce dissatisfaction and unhappiness, and you will also avoid too great dependence on such things as coffee, alcohol or drugs. It is important to observe your own behavior and mental activity in order to identify those people and objects on which you are too dependent, and which produce undesirable consequences. For instance you may be drinking too much coffee, which in turn produces great excitement and prevents you from sleeping properly. In such conditions it is necessary to engage in some alternative form of behavior, such as ceasing to drink coffee, or altering your behavior vis--vis a particular person, etc. When through your activities you achieve more autonomous self-regulation, then you will feel that you are very much better off. If this does not happen, you must not despair, but go on looking for an improvement in the situation in which you find yourself.

Table of Contents | The Intervention Experiment | Self-Regulation

Copyright 1997 Thomas R. Blakeslee. All rights reserved. Used with permission of Dr. Grossarth-Maticek. Revised: November 23, 2003.