Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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A quasi-religious human potential movement founded by Josť Silva in the late 1960s. The movement's goal is to turn its members into active psychics who are able to conduct psychic healing sessions.

Healing and other psychic abilities are considered part of natural human potential rather than being supernatural in origin. In Silva Mind Control, certain types of learned behavior and mental habits such as "negativity" are seen as blocks to natural psychic ability. Local instructors hold week-long training sessions to teach Silva's techniques to interested students for a fee. At the end of that week, students are expected to successfully complete a healing ritual that involves identifying and healing illnesses in persons whom the students have never seen. Silva Mind Control is seen by Westley (1978) as an example of a religious form predicted by Durkheim that would locate the sacred within individuals. Bird (1979) suggests that Silva Mind Control, like other similar apprenticeship groups, encourages a reduced sense of moral accountability.

Edward F. Breschel


F. Bird, "The Pursuit of Innocence," Sociological Analysis 40(1979):335-346

A. M. Powers, Silva Mind Control (New York: Garland, 1992)

J. Silva, The Silva Mind Control Method of Mental Dynamics (London: Grafton, 1990)

F. R. Westley, "'Cult of Man': Durkheim's Predictions and NRMs," Sociological Analysis 39(1978):135-145


J. N. Lapsley and J. H. Simpson, "Speaking in Tongues," Pastoral Psychology 15(1964):48-55

J. H. Simpson, "Sovereign Groups, Subsistence Activities, and the Presence of a High God in Primitive Societies," in The Religious Dimension , ed. R. Wuthnow (New York: Academic Press, 1979): 299-310

J. H. Simpson, "Moral Issues and Status Politics," in The New Christian Right , ed. R. C. Liebman and R. Wuthnow (New York: Aldine, 1983): 188-205

J. H. Simpson, "Toward a Theory of America," in Secularization and Fundamentalism Reconsidered , ed. J. K. Hadden and A. Shupe (New York: Paragon, 1989): 78-90

J. H. Simpson, "Globalization and Religion," Religion and Global Order , ed. R. Robertson and W. R. Garrett (New York: Paragon, 1991): 1-18

J. H. Simpson, "The Body in Late Capitalism," in Abortion Politics in the United States and Canada , ed. T. G. Jelen and M. A. Chandler (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1994): 1-13.

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