Walpole Study of the Transcendental Meditation Program in Maximum Security Prisoners I:
CHARLES N. ALEXANDER
KENNETH G. WALTON
RACHEL S. GOODMAN
Effective rehabilitation of repeat offenders is a way to prevent crime. The Transcendental Meditation (TM) program is an especially promising approach to offender rehabilitation because evidence indicates that this program promotes improvements in both mental and physical health that support law-abiding behavior. The present cross-sectional study of 160 maximum-security prisoners at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution, Walpole, is a multifaceted comparison of differences in self-development and psychopathology between the TM group and various control groups. Inmates who had practiced the TM program for an average of 20 months had improved scores relative to controls on 3 factor-analytic components derived from 14 individual test scales. Differences were highly significant for all 3 components (Development, Consciousness, and Psychopathology) when TM group members (n = 46) were compared with all nonmembers (n = 114) or with only the nonmembers interested in learning the technique (n = 63). These controls who were interested in learning did not differ on any of the 14 variables from those not interested (n = 51). Compared to nonmembers, members of the TM group also showed improved test scores on key individual test scales, controlling for relevant demographic variables. These scales included Loevinger’s Self-Development scale (p < .0005); the Postconceptual Experience factor of Alexander’s State of Consciousness Inventory (SCI, p < .01); Intimacy Motivation (p < .05), as measured by the Thematic Apperception Test; State-Trait Anxiety (p < .001); and 5 scales of psychopathology from the Special Hospitals Assessment of Personality and Socialization (SHAPS)–Psychopathic Deviation (p < .01), Anxiety (p < .05), Aggression (p < .05), Tension (p < .05), and Introversion (p < .05)–while remaining within the normal range on the SHAPS Lie and Extroversion scales. These outcomes, along with the outcomes of related longitudinal and recidivism studies, identify the TM program as an effective tool for promoting the psychological health and personal maturation necessary for lasting rehabilitation of maximum-security inmates.
KEYWORDS Rehabilitation, consciousness, psychopathology, crime prevention, self-development, postconceptual experience