Walpole Study of the Transcendental Meditation Program in
CHARLES N. ALEXANDER
DAVID W. ORME-JOHNSON
We studied longitudinal changes in self-development and psychopathology over a 15.7-month period (SD = 4.4 months) in 271 maximum-security prisoners who were participating in either the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program, counseling, drug rehabilitation, or Muslim or Christian groups. For each program, new and advanced participants were compared with (a) subjects interested in participating who were delayed from starting, (b) subjects who were not interested in participating, and (c) subjects who dropped out. Only regular participants in the TM program changed significantly. Controlling for pretest scores, overlap of membership, and 19 demographic and criminal history factors, both new and advanced TM members who were regular in their practice increased more than one step in Loevinger’s ego development scale, while drop-outs, delayeds, and not interesteds remained relatively unchanged (p < .00025). On the average, after 15.2 months of practice, new TM subjects moved from the Conformist, I-3 level, a dependent, exploitative orientation, to the Self Aware transition level, I-3/4, modal stage of American adults, which is characterized by a greater awareness of norms and goals. Advanced TM subjects (20 months regular practice at the beginning of the study) were at the Self-Aware stage at pretest, but after 13 additional months of TM practice, they grew to the next stage (Conscientious, I-4), which is more responsible, self-monitoring, self-respecting, and communicative.TM subjects also showed significant reductions in aggression (p < .05), especially those who meditated at least twice a week (p < .005). In addition, they showed reduced schizophrenic symptoms (p < .05), decreased trait-anxiety (p < .10, trend), and increased frequency of postconceptual experience of higher states of consciousness (p < .01), but did not significantly differ on either of the misleading items scales.
KEYWORDS Rehabilitation, Transcendental Meditation, psychopathology, crime prevention, ego-development, Maharishi Vedic Psychology