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Hairstyles are an individualistic choice, whether it be long, short, or a bob. Long-haired preferences, however, are often attached to the 70’s hippies, or to the person being lazy. But this was to change during the war in Vietnam.
A personal account from the wife of a licensed psychologist who used to work with combat veterans at the VA Medical Hospital as part of the PTSD team gives us a deeper insight.
Below is her account.
She remembers the day her husband returned from his work to their home on the Doctor’s Circle, a large folder with an official seal on the top in his hands. It was stuffed thick with many hundred sheaves of papers full of a study conducted by the government. It was those documents which she claims changed her husband’s whole lifestyle, and because of which he began to grow in his beard and hair, though he had been a very conservative person before. Not only him, but other conservative men at the VA Medical centre followed the same style, and the medical centre allowed them to do so. It was as the wife read the documents that it became clear why.
It appears that the War Department commissioned special forces during the Vietnam War to search for recruits in the American Native American Reservations. Undercover specialists studied scouts who were known for their talent in stealth. These young men were tough and able to move almost invisibly through even rough terrains. The specialists particularly studied men who seemed to have a near supernatural, excellent sense of ability to track enemies and prey. Before their final recruitment, the specialists documented in detail the exceptional tracking skills and the survival strategies of these handpicked men.
These Native American men were lured to get enlisted by providing them with enticements as per the norm and with the use of phrases and smooth talking that is used to sweet-talk all new recruits. However, a most astonishing result was obtained. Once on the field, every single recruit who had been newly enlisted failed in their task, as their once specialized talent and stealth seemed to be gone.
It was only after several severe casualties and badly failed performances that the government finally commissioned costly testing of all the recruits.
The older recruits who had failed were questioned on their failures and the loss of their talents, and the common reply was that post their mandatory military haircuts, the men could not ‘feel’ their enemy. The special power, or the ‘sixth sense’ that had given them their intuition was missing, and they could no longer read the hidden signs or reach out to their own quiet extrasensory perceptions.
The testing clinic conducted another experiment by recruiting a fresh batch of Native American trackers. This time, however, their hair was left untouched before they were sent for testing. Comparing the scores of two men who had scored similarly in the tests, they would pair the men and give one of them a haircut, before sending them back for the tests.
Every single time, the man who had been allowed to keep his hair long would score higher, and perform better, than his counterpart whose hair had been cut.
An example of a standard test is:
- The recruit would be sent to the woods to camp for the night. When he falls asleep, an armed ‘enemy’ would make its way toward the man. The long-haired man awakes because of a danger he senses approaching, and is gone from the place before even the sounds of the enemy making its way toward him can be heard.
- A second version of the same test would be to have the long-haired man know when he is going to be attacked physically. By letting his intuition guide him, the man ‘kills’ the attacker before he can be ‘killed’.
What was interesting was the man passing these and other tests before having his military haircut, but failing them all, and getting ‘killed’ post losing his long hair.
The document not only recommended, but mandated that trackers of Native American origin be exempted from the haircuts, and instead, keep their hair long.
It seems incredible that hair can be the key to a person’s intuition. But that is how humans have grown and evolved over the years. Every single part of the human body has had a specific purpose. But as we move into modern times, we lose touch with bodies and allow our minds to wander, and thus we let go of the power we have held.
Like skin, hair is also a part of our nervous system, and many perceive it as nerve endings which extend out of the body, like the antennae of insects. They collect and transfer to our minds huge data that is important to us, which gets translated into the brainstem, the limbic system and the neocortex.
But modern society perceives hair as a dead material which does not serve a purpose besides decoration. What is true and what is not remains to be seen, but as an evolving species, we need to keep our minds open to all the possibilities life presents to us.