Tom McNear taking an AOL Break during a remote viewing session
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The Monster in the Closet: Analytical Overlay in Remote Viewing

This is a guest article from my long-time friend and colleague Tom McNear. Tom was the first and only military viewer to be trained all the way through in the Controlled Remote Viewing  (CRV) methodology by Ingo Swann himself. Ingo often referred to Tom as his “best ever remote viewing student.” Here Tom talks about a very important aspect that applies not just to CRV, and not just to remote viewing in general, but it also applies to all aspects of “being psychic”–analytical overlay, or AOL. Lot’s of valuable information here. As an added bonus, he includes guidance on how and when to take “breaks” of various kinds during the remote viewing process.


Recognizing and Dealing with Analytic Overlay (AOL); and, When and Why to Take Breaks While Remote Viewing

In this paper I plan to address the two primary tasks for dealing with Analytic Overlay (AOL):  first, viewers must recognize that something is an AOL, and secondly, viewers must know what to do once they believe they have encountered an AOL.  When encountering an AOL it is appropriate to “take a break,” so this paper also addresses other instances when it is appropriate for viewers to take a break.

(Note:  This paper assumes that the reader has at least a rudimentary knowledge of remote viewing structure and a basic understanding of what an ideogram represents. For those who don’t, some preliminary information is available here and here.)

What is Analytical Overlay (AOL)?

A humorous look at the specialized processes of the left and right brain hemispheres

A humorous look at the specialized processes of the left and right brain hemispheres (Charly W. Karl image.)

AOL is the response of the viewer’s analytic mind to the information being received by the subconscious intuitive mind.  We go through our lives receiving inputs from both our mind’s analytic left-hemisphere and our mind’s intuitive right-hemisphere.  The two hemispheres work hand-in-hand; the analytic mind receives and reacts to inputs from our traditional five senses, while the intuitive mind perceives, among many other more conventional things, data generally not perceptible by our traditional five senses—hence the popular, though not truly accurate term the “sixth sense.”  When these “sixth-sense” data are perceived by our intuitive mind, the intuitive mind typically sends the information to our analytic mind which analyzes it and determines how best to respond to it.  Ingo Swann labeled this system of our intuitive perceptions of our Psychic Alerting System (PAS).  This cooperation between the two hemispheres helps us each to get safely through our days.

When the intuitive mind receives an input that it doesn’t completely understand, the analytic mind “tries to help” by submitting inputs or ideas for our waking mind to consider.  Content for these analytic inputs comes from the mind’s memory or imagination and are then manipulated by left-brain analytical functions.  The analytic mind is saying, “The last time we received this perception it was a (fill in the blank).  This input may be correct, semi-correct, or totally incorrect.

Correct and incorrect are easy to understand, but what is meant by “semi-correct?”  If one’s PAS is warning them that they are about to be struck by a red car, the analytic mind, in cooperation with the intuitive mind, will warn the individual by showing them a red car coming at them.  This is likely not the actual red car about to hit them; the red car their mind uses to warn them likely comes from their imagination or memory, but the conscious mind understands there is a red car approaching that must be dealt with; it perceives the threat and reacts—mission accomplished.  When one is in danger, and time is of the essence, one need not know the exact make and model of the car.

A similar process can occur during remote viewing.  The viewer takes the coordinate,1 the intuitive mind receives and draws an ideogram2 of the primary gestalt based on factors perceivable by the intuitive mind, but immediately the analytic mind jumps in and “tries to help.”  The analytic mind tells the viewer that the last time a similar set of perceptions was received it was a (fill in the blank).  Again, this may be correct, it may be semi-correct, or it may be incorrect; regardless, it is an AOL.  The information came from the analytic mind and not intuition.  This is the analytic mind trying to help; and by properly recognizing and dealing with this AOL, the viewer can either clear it from the session or, in the case of AOL-matching—an AOL that correctly approximates the correct site (addressed below)—it can help the viewer to correctly identify the site.  While AOL is usually incorrect, if the site associated with the coordinate is a red car, to be successful in a specialized kind of remote viewing known as Associative Remote Viewing (ARV), the viewer doesn’t need to identify the actual make and model of the car.  This is an example of how AOL-matching can assist you in ARV.

A hypothetical example of analytical overlay (AOL) in remote viewing. Two views of the assigned target, the Eiffel Tower, compared to the AOL of "steel bridge" that a viewer's left brain might imagine.

A hypothetical example of analytical overlay (AOL) in remote viewing. Two views of the assigned target, the Eiffel Tower (left and center), compared to the AOL of “steel bridge” (right) that a viewer’s left brain might imagine.

Remote viewers must learn to describe their perceptions of the site and not try to turn those perceptions into “things.”  Perceptions are most often expressed by the viewer as adjectives—colors, kinesthetic sensations, smells, tastes, sounds, the perceptions of our traditional five senses.  “Things” or tangible objects are nouns. When perceiving red, hard, smooth, metallic, manmade, etc, the analytic mind endeavors to turn these disparate elements into a cogent picture —a car for instance.  “Car” is the analytic mind’s suggestion to the viewer that these various perceptions are likely describing a car.  Car is an AOL.

While the viewer can perceive tangible objects in the later stages of remote viewing, in the early stages of remote viewing, nouns are often products of the analytic mind and are almost certainly AOL.  Remote viewers must learn to focus on describing the received perceptions rather than attempting to turn those adjectives into nouns.  Nouns are likely AOL and should be declared as AOL.  If these perceptions are correct they will return; this is known as the self-correcting nature of remote viewing.

The following graph depicts the interaction of the two hemispheres during remote viewing.  Upon receiving the coordinate or stimulus, the intuitive psychic signal reaches the limen—the threshold of conscious awareness; at this point the signal becomes perceptible.  When the signal impacts on the limen, the viewer momentarily perceives the information contained in the signal.  As the signal fades, the viewer’s analytic mind, using the first few data bits received from the initial signal, begins to draw on memory or imagination, and “creates a picture of the site.”  This “picture” is created from too few data bits.  It likely represents the primary gestalt of the site, but at this point the signal is likely too weak to accurately depict significant details of the site.

Diagram showing how analytical overlay (AOL) "fills in" the gaps between remote viewing stimulus signals

Diagram showing how analytical overlay (AOL) “fills in” the gaps between remote viewing stimulus signals.

This is when the analytic mind jumps in to “help” by offering memories and imaginations for the viewer’s consideration.  These memories and imaginations are AOL and can be described as “fill in the blank overlay” (see above figure).  Again, this is the analytic mind “trying to help.”  These overlays are driven by a need to resolve the ambiguity associated with the fragmentary nature of the emerging signals.  Success in handling this process requires the viewer to receive the incoming data while simultaneously controlling the overlays.  When the viewer is able to eliminate the analytic mind’s desire to help, retaking the stimulus—the coordinate or the target reference number (TRN)—will allow the signal to return more slowly and with greater intensity.  Receiving the ideogram and controlling the production of AOL are the keys to remote viewing.

How does the viewer recognize an AOL? 

AOL can be recognized in several ways:

  • AOL is usually preceded by qualifying words such as “like, maybe, sort of, similar to, etc.” The site is not “like a red car,” the site is either a red car or it isn’t.  The viewer must be on the lookout for these qualifiers.
  • AOL can also be recognized by hesitation in objectifying session information. This hesitation is often an internal discussion between the intuitive and analytic minds as they sort out what to call the incoming data.  When the viewer begins to state something or to write something, but then pauses or has “second thoughts,” this information is likely AOL.
  • Similarly, if the viewer states an element in a questioning tone, this should be considered AOL (i.e., Red?).
  • If the information is totally unjustified by the previous data it is considered as AOL. As stated above, transitioning from adjective descriptors to nouns can be the beginning of AOL.  The identification of a “thing” should be preceded by data that supports naming the “thing.”  If the feeling-motion of the ideogram is “rising hard,” and the viewer’s immediate analytic response is water; that is likely an AOL.
  • Finally, AOL may often appear as a sharp, very clear, motionless image that appears in the mind of the viewer. This sharp image is likely the product of the analytic mind’s memories or imagination.

How to deal with AOL.

Tom McNear taking an AOL Break during a remote viewing session

Tom McNear taking an AOL Break during a remote viewing session.

As stated above, an AOL can be correct, semi-correct, or incorrect; regardless, the viewer’s task is to take an “AOL break,” declare the AOL and wait for the AOL to subside.  When the viewer realizes they have received an AOL, they should declare an “AOL break” and objectify the AOL by writing “AOL break” in the right margin of the paper and writing immediately below that what the AOL was.  It is important that, in declaring the AOL, the viewer should not dwell on the AOL; the purpose of declaring the AOL is to quickly acknowledge the AOL and then to clear it from “the system.”  Dwelling on an AOL will only reinforce it in the mind of the viewer.  Declaring a “break” tells the viewer’s mind that it was an AOL and objectifies it to clear it from the viewer’s mind.  Taking a break allows the AOL to subside and clear from the system; if the viewer does not declare “break” and take a break, they will likely perpetuate the AOL by dwelling on it and describing it instead of clearing it from their thoughts and reconnecting with the actual target.  The viewer should remain on break until the AOL “goes away.”  This may take a few seconds or a few minutes; only the viewer will know when the AOL has been completely cleared.

Failing to Acknowledge an AOL.

If an AOL is received during the session and is unrecognized or unacknowledged by the viewer, it can begin to “drive” the session.  Everything begins to revolve around the undeclared AOL.  This is known as an AOL-Drive (AOL-D).  When the viewer recognizes that they are operating with an AOL-D, they must first call an AOL-D break, go back in their transcript to locate the AOL, declare and objectify the AOL-D, and then take a break to allow the AOL-D to subside.  With an AOL-D, a longer break is usually required.

Appropriate AOL as an Aid to Site Identification.

Remember that an AOL can be correct, semi-correct or incorrect; regardless, the viewer’s task is to take an AOL break, declare the AOL and wait for the AOL to subside.  But what if the AOL is correct?  If the AOL is a correct or partially correct analytic assessment of the tasked site, the AOL will repeat itself.  The tasked site may be a Delta Airline aircraft, and the viewer may be “seeing” or remembering the American Airlines aircraft on which they flew the prior day.  This is an example of AOL-matching; while it is not the correct aircraft, identifying the site as an aircraft is certainly correct enough for most remote viewing purposes (and is especially sufficient for ARV).  If the AOL is incorrect or inappropriate for the tasked site, it should not repeat after the viewer has declared it and taken an appropriate break.

Ingo Swann monitoring Tom McNear in a controlled remote viewing session

Ingo Swann monitoring Tom McNear in a controlled remote viewing session.

Taking Breaks While Remote Viewing.

Taking an AOL break is a necessary means for dealing with AOL, but there are other times during the remote viewing session that it is appropriate to take breaks.  The viewer should feel free to take a break anytime during the session for any reason, but below are specific times when it is especially beneficial to take a break:

Break:  At any time during the session, the viewer can take a break for any reason.  This should be objectified by writing “break” in the right margin of the session transcript.  If the viewer anticipates an extended break, the time should be written with the break.  When the session resumes, the restarting time should be written.  It is often best to restart the session by taking the coordinate again.

AOL break:  An AOL break should be called anytime the viewer encounters an AOL.  This acknowledges that an AOL has been encountered; taking a break tells the analytic mind to cease contemplating the AOL to allow it to clear from the viewer’s mind.  Take an AOL break, objectify the AOL by writing it immediately under the “AOL break,” allow the mind to clear, and then retake the coordinate.

AOL Drive break (AOL-D):  An AOL-D break is called anytime an AOL begins to repeat itself and “drive” the session.  This often occurs when an AOL was unrecognized as an AOL and it has “taken over” the analytic mind.  In this case, the viewer must declare an AOL-D break, go back into the session data and find where the AOL-D began, objectify the AOL-D by writing it immediately below the AOL-D, and then take a break to allow the mind to clear before retaking the coordinate.  AOL-D usually requires a longer break for it to clear from the viewer’s mind.

Miss Break:  A Miss break is taken any time the viewer realizes that they have “missed” the signal as it was impacting them.  In such a case, if a break is not taken, the analytic mind will “try to help” by giving the viewer an AOL—in this case an attempt to approximate (“guess at”) what passed through the viewer’s intuitive mind.  Taking a Miss break is the viewer’s acknowledgment that they have missed the signal and a statement to the analytic mind to not dwell further on the missed signal thereby precluding it from generating an AOL.  Take a Miss break, allow the mind to clear, and then retake the coordinate.

Too Much Break:  This is basically the opposite of a Miss break.  There are times during the viewing session that the viewer receives a great deal of data all at once.  If a break is not taken, the analytic mind will try to sort through and make sense of this barrage of data.  This will likely generate AOL.  Take a Too Much break, allow the mind to clear, and then retake the coordinate.

Confusion Break:  At any time during the remote viewing session the viewer may become confused.  Maybe the viewer begins to stray from the correct remote viewing structure, maybe they perceived red but they’ve written blue… whatever the cause of the confusion, this is the time to call a Confusion break and objectify the confusion.  As with the other breaks, if a break is not taken upon becoming confused, the analytic mind will try to sort through the confusion and will likely begin to produce AOL.  Take a Confusion break, allow the confusion to clear and take the coordinate again.

Aesthetic Impact Break (AI break):  An aesthetic impact is the viewer’s subjective, personal response to the way the site “makes them feel.”  Viewers may feel in awe of the site (Wow, amazing!), or they may find it repulsive (Yuck!).  The viewer may also exhibit physical symptoms such as dizziness or motion sickness.  Aesthetic impact occurs as the viewer’s “aperture widens” or contact with the site expands.  Viewers should declare an AI break, write or objectify their response to the site, and allow the sensations to subside before recommencing the session.

Bilocation Break (Bilo break):  Remote viewing requires the viewer to have a sense of being two places at once:  their perceptions need to be at the site to perceive data regarding the site, but they must also be sufficiently in the viewing room to allow the recording or objectifying of the data being perceived at the site.  If the viewer’s perceptions are too much at the site, this is exhibited by long pauses or periods of silence.  If the viewer is too much in the viewing room, this is exhibited by a weak connection to the site or a lack of incoming data.  Both impede accurately reporting the necessary data from the site.  Regardless of the situation, the viewer should declare a Bilo break and take a break until the proper balance of the site and viewing room can be reestablished.

For a similar perspective on dealing with AOL and taking breaks, please see Paul H. Smith’s article entitled “How not to take a break.”


  1. Coordinate or tasking number: A number that substitutes for verbal directions to start a session. Instead of telling the viewer to “Remote view the Eiffel Tower,” the number 8675309 might be substituted by the tasker or project manager as the “get ready, get set, go!” signal for the session. Since proper remote viewing requires the viewer not be told what the target is until after the session is completed, this allows the viewer to be launched without violating that principle.

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