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First Prison Study Using the Transcendental Meditation Program:
La Tuna Federal Penitentiary, 1971

Maharishi International University

Channel One, Los Angeles

This repeated-measures study investigated effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on physiological and psychological variables in 17 prison inmates. After practicing the technique for 2 months, inmates showed increased stability of the autonomic nervous system, as indicated by fewer spontaneous skin resistance responses (SSRR), p < .001. They also showed reductions in rigidity, obsessive thoughts, and compulsive behavior, as indicated by two scales on the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), decreased Psychasthenia (MMPI scale 7, p<.025), and decreased Social Introversion (MMPI scale 10, p < .05). Regularity of practice correlated significantly with the percentage decrease in SSRR (r = .74, N = 12, p < .01). In turn, decreased SSRR correlated with decreased Psychasthenia (r = .68, p < .025). This correlation between increasing stability of the autonomic nervous system and reductions in rigid or obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior is consistent with studies in other populations. The results of the present study suggest the Transcendental Meditation program improves integrated function of the frontal lobes of the brain in a manner useful in rehabilitating offenders.

KEYWORDS Autonomic nervous system, social introversion, compulsive behavior, frontal lobes, Transcendental Meditation, rehabilitation