David John Oates: Reverse Speech – Voices From The Unconscious


Richard Moore

Jack Johnston in Ashland Oregon, has been using Reverse Speech in investigative work with several attorneys. His results have been amazing. In one case, he found information in reverse that was subsequently verified by DNA testing. So impressed have the authorities been with Jack’s work that Reverse Speech training has been added to the Oregon Police’s training program as an optional extra in their course of study.

Reverse Speech – Voices From The Unconscious

By David John Oates


Ever since the late 60s when the Beatles first experimented with a recording technique known as backward masking, people have had a fascination with recordings played backwards. In the late 70s and early 80s religious fundamentalists preached from the pulpits that occultic forces were hiding sinister backwards messages in rock and roll records. In the early 90s their cries reached the US courts when the rock group Judas Priest was sued by distraught parents whose teenage sons had suicided whilst listening to their album, Stained Class. They claimed the album contained subliminal backward messages that encouraged suicidal behaviour. Judas Priest prevailed in the case with the court ruling they had not intentionally placed these messages on the album but the Judge also concluded that the backward messages did exist.

So what are these backward messages? Do they exist and if so what do they mean and how are they getting there?

In early 1984, while I was running a halfway house for street kids in rural South Australia, I first heard about this phenomenon when I had several frightened teenagers in my office saying they could hear the voice of devil talking backwards to them on their records. Naturally I was sceptical, but my curiosity was sufficiently aroused to explore further. I have always had an interest in electronics and audio. I was (and still am) a licensed amateur radio operator with a good ear for sound, so I went home that night, rewired some audio equipment, and started to play some of the suspect records backwards fully expecting to hear nothing but gibberish.

Much to my surprise, from the very first record I listened to I began to hear clear, grammatically correct sentences, mixed amongst the backward gibberish. My first thought was the sound track must have been altered but subsequent tests revealed no manipulation. Suspecting an over active imagination I asked friends if they could also hear the backward messages. Most of them could with no prior prompting on my part. This was indeed most curious.

Over the next few weeks, I had reversed most of my musical collection finding these backward messages to be prolific, occurring in almost 50% of all the records I looked at. The messages they contained were not necessarily evil, as the fundamentalists had claimed, but rather covered a wide range of subjects such as love, politics and other general topics.

Shortly afterwards, my little hobby took a dramatic turn when I accidentally stumbled across the phenomenon in normal human speech. One of the first examples I found in speech was in Neil Armstrong’s famous first words as stepped onto the lunar surface. Forwards he says, “That’s one small step for man,” and when this same track is played backwards, the words “Man will space walk” can be clearly heard. Another early example found occurs as a live commentator is describing the scene in Dallas Texas 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was shot. Forwards he says, “Parkland hospital, there has been a shooting, Parkland hospital has been advised to stand by for a severe gun shot wound.” When this same track is played backwards the words, “He’s shot bad, hold it! Try and look up,” can be clearly heard. 

Suddenly my little hobby had turned into an obsession. I began taping as many people as often as I could and I found backward messages to be prolific, many of them as clear as the forward dialogue, occurring in grammatically correct sentences that often related to what was being said forward. I searched libraries and bookshops trying to find any other work on the subject and could find none. It then became obvious to me that this was a field that was totally new.

Then in 1987, I was encouraged by my good friend, Greg Albrecht, to write a book about the topic. Together we worked on the project and gave the book an initial working title of “Beyond Backward Masking.” We complied backward messages from both music and speech and found many common trends, most principally the fact that these backward messages usually related to what was spoken forwards. We found that if a lie was spoken in forward speech, the backwards speech would often correct that lie and speak the truth instead. Additionally, we found that if pertinent facts were left out of the forward speech, the backward speech would often put them in. We also noted that the backward messages occurred approximately once every 15-20 seconds of normal relaxed conversation and less often in a public speech, maybe once every 60-90 seconds. Greg and I became convinced that we had discovered something extremely significant. We needed to call it something and explain it in simple terms.

The answer came to me at 3 o’clock in the morning sometime in April 1987 when I work up with a jolt with 2 words burning in my mind. The words were “Reverse Speech”. I got up immediately, went to my computer, and wrote the very first draft of what was later called “The Theory of Reverse Speech and Speech Complementarity.”

In short this theory states that the process of spoken communication is two fold, forwards and backwards. As the human brain is constructing the sounds of speech, it is putting those sounds together in such a way that two messages are communicated simultaneously, one forwards from the conscious mind and the other in reverse from the unconscious mind.

The theory also stated that Reverse Speech was a communication process. The backward messages can be received and understood by the human mind. We know this because many instances of reversed conversation have been found in Reverse Speech, where questions are asked and answers subsequently given, all in reverse. Also, EEG testing that was undertaken in 1988 showed the brain clearly responding to backward messages.

I later theorised that the existence of Reverse Speech may explain many aspects of human intuition, why we can often get a gut feeling when talking to someone that they can or cannot be trusted, or that there is more to the conversation than they are telling us. Unconsciously, we are receiving the reversed messages and recognising the feelings they create in us as human intuition.

We released our book late 1987 with the subtitle of “Reverse Speech, The Voice Of The Inner Mind.” Within only a few weeks of its release we were approached by the Aussie press and did several TV current affairs programs and dozens of radio interviews. Greg subsequently went onto other affairs and I continued the research alone. In 1989,  the initial media coverage reached the United States and I was invited for a lecture tour. It was an outstanding success and I moved there to live shortly afterwards and stayed for 10 years, lecturing, teaching and continuously researching this amazing field. I returned to Australia in late 1999 with several trained Reverse Speech Analysts continuing the work in the U.S.

Since 1987 my understanding of Reverse Speech has grown considerably and its practical applications have become very apparent to me.

On the surface level Reverse Speech acts almost like an ultimate truth detector. Its uses in law enforcement alone are awesome. It can reveal the guilt or innocence of a suspect. It can reveal the location of missing evidence and the motives for a crime. Certified Reverse Speech Practitioner, Jack Johnston in Ashland Oregon, has been using Reverse Speech in investigative work with several attorneys. His results have been amazing. In one case, he found information in reverse that was subsequently verified by DNA testing. So impressed have the authorities been with Jack’s work that Reverse Speech training has been added to the Oregon Police’s training program as an optional extra in their course of study.

My own personal love of this technology, however, is in the therapeutic area. Much of the messages contained in Reverse Speech come from deeper areas of the human mind. In fact less than 10% of all reversed language is from the conscious mind. By far the vast majority of backward messages are coming from either the unconscious mind, or what Carl Jung coined as the Collective Unconscious. When they come from these areas they can often reveal information unknown to the conscious mind. This can prove to be extremely beneficial in working with psychological or physical illness.

In one case a client who came for Reverse Speech session work to discover the cause of her asthma, talked forwards about unusual mould smells in the house. She had a reversal on this section that said, “Under the floor, puss in my head.” We were all puzzled about the meaning of the reversal until the husband, out of curiosity, looked under the floorboards of the house only to discover 18 inches of mould growing under the house. He cleared out the mould and within a couple of weeks the woman’s asthma had completely disappeared. Why did this information appear in reverse even though the conscious mind did not know? Because the unconscious mind knew. Using traditional therapy this might have never been discovered. 

In another case, when a woman was talking about depression and her need to get her life in order, a reversal appeared that said “Need more sunlight.” The woman subsequently took the curtains down from her windows, cut down the trees around the windows, and let more sunlight into her house. Within a couple of weeks, her disposition had considerably improved and her life began to shine again. The reversal accessed unconscious information that provided her with a solution to her problem.

According to my discoveries with Reverse Speech, the unconscious mind contains a wealth of information. It knows all about us, what we need, our wants and desires, and often the solutions to many of our problems. Reverse Speech directly accesses this information and hence can shorten the therapeutic process by months if not years.

In a case I recently worked on, I found a reversal that said “I have been molested.” This was information known to the client but not told to me. It revealed an event that was extremely important to the whole therapeutic process. This knowledge was obtained with just one tape recording and may not have been revealed for a long time using traditional therapy. Another case had a reversal that said “Hid the bad orphan.” This reversal prompted my client’s memory of an event in her childhood where she had been naughty, punished, and her father had subsequently died of heart attack a few days later. Unconsciously she had blamed herself for her father’s death and this blame was affecting her to this very day. With Reverse Speech we were able to isolate this event in just one tape recording and make appropriate corrective measures.

The above are just a few of the 1000s of case studies that I have in my files. In my practice as a therapist and hypnotherapist I literally see miracles unfolding before me as Reverse Speech reveals the amazing gems contained in the unconscious mind. This makes my work very effective and extremely rewarding. Every day I am eternally grateful for my discovery of this magnificent phenomenon.

In recent years, I have taken Reverse Speech one step further than this by developing a technique that is very effective in changing human behaviour.

A significant proportion of speech reversals speak in metaphoric language, using phrases such as “The wolf has fallen in the lake,” or “My goddess has a spear in her heart.” At first the meaning of these phrases were a mystery to me but as the years of research passed I began to notice a trend with these metaphors. For example, every time someone used the word wolf in reverse, they were usually talking forward about motivation or the desire to get ahead. The word Goddess often occurred when someone was talking forward about hope for the future, and lake frequently occurred when they were talking forwards about emotions.

As time went on I discovered that many of these words were universal in their meaning from person to person and even (as I began to train bi-lingual students) from culture to culture. I started to compile a reverse speech metaphor dictionary which today has more than 2,000 references documented of common metaphors that occur in reverse speech.

Of even more significance I discovered that not only were these metaphors Universal in their meanings but they also represented, and even caused, certain aspects of human behaviour. I theorised that at the deepest levels of the human psyche the human mind thought in pictures or metaphor. When I was working with clients who used metaphors that were not conducive to their behavioural outcomes, I wondered if it was possible to change the metaphor, hence the behaviour.

Thus was born a brand new therapeutic technique that I entitled “Metaphor Restructuring.” It went something like this.

First I would conduct a reverse speech session with my client and find the metaphors they were running. In a subsequent session I would ask my client how could these metaphors be changed to achieve their desired behavioural outcomes. Much to my amazement, speech reversals would come back that would tell me exactly what to do. For example, the man whose wolf had fallen into the lake might produce a reversal that said “Give the wolf a stick and pull him out.” I would then place my client in a light meditative state and ask him to visualise the wolf in the lake. Then, following the instructions contained in the follow up tape, I would ask my client to take the wolf out the lake. I called this metaphoric journey a “Metawalk.”

The results I obtained were amazing. Firstly the client experiences a very vivid metaphoric journey. Many times they would see the images before I suggested them. For a few days following the Metawalk, they would experience a sense of relief and lightness of mood. This mood would then gradually fade and 2-3 weeks later the real changes would begin. They seemed to start deep down inside and gradually grew in intensity until the behaviour they were seeking to change had almost completely vanished.

Thus I had developed a very powerful technique that was completely free of operator bias. It used the unconscious mind itself to both show us what was wrong and also how to rectify the problem.

This is where the research now stands after almost 20 years of work. Reverse Speech is an awesome discovery that has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of how the human mind works, and possibly bring society into an age of truth and awareness. I am now looking for enthusiastic people with vision and courage who can learn these techniques and take them out to the world. You can also experience this process for yourself with our special introductory offer of a 5 minute recording for $49. To arrange a five minute recording email David Oates at•••@••.•••. For further information you can contact our offices in Adelaide Australia at (08) 8382-4372 (International 61 8 8382-4372) or visit the website (which contains 1000s of examples of speech reversals) at http://www.reversespeech.com