A Conversation for Hypnosis

Erroneous views

Post 1


When I wrote this article it was done with the intention of pointing out that many people have a misconception as to what hypnosis is and is not.

Although the article was well edited - this message seems to have been lost in the editing, so I will put it here.

Hypnosis does not send you to the Planet Zod - you are in full control of youself and what you do. No suggestions are taken onboard unless you wish them to be. No one is controlling you - only you. Many people feel that they have not been hypnotised, this does not mean to say they were not. All hypnosis is self enduced and how and why you react the way you do, is done so by your own willing.

If you are against doing something whilst in a state of hypnosis - then you will NOT do it. Book & Film producers/writers use hypnotism as some kind of magical power that some one can have over another. That and Stage Hypnotism has gone a long way in furthering this misconception. They are actually describing something totally different.

Brainwashing and transference - these techneques and actions of the mind are are nothing to do with hypnosis as such and with the case of brainwashing is more to do with lack of sleep and controlling a weakened mind - hypnosis actually maks the mind stronger.

Wow - heavy - sorry but I feel the editors rewrite or omissions are due to his psychological views and not my own.

Erroneous views

Post 2


Regression to childhood and recovery of forgotton memories is a contentious subject, particularly if the subject is convinced that what they say under hypnosis is particularly likely to be true (as may well be the case with an over-eager therapist, which do seem to exist in places)

While memory can be aided by hypnosis, if there's a therapist who is convinced in advance that they know what they're going to uncover, there's a definite risk they'll end up uncovering it even if it was never there in the first place. Obviously, that can happen in therapy as well, so it's not the fault of hypnosis as such, but if people start believing too much in the reliability of any therapeutic process, it can be dangerous.

After all, some people honestly think they can regress into past lives, though I suspect most of the rest of the population would find it very hard to believe them.

I wonder how many cases have there been where details of recovered memories could be solidly confirmed by other evidence.? (I do accept that in the case where memories *are* accurate, getting confirmation from others is quite likely to be difficult.)

One experiment I'd suggest which should be feasible these days is to find people who had films or videos taken of them on definite occasions when they were a small child (but who has never seen, or not recently seen, the films or videos), put them under hypnosis, take them back to the filmed occasions, and see how good their memories really are.

Clearly, the situations involved wouldn't be the kind of things that are likely to be surpressed, but it would be interesting to get a rough guide to the accuracy of recall.
In fact, it could be a good test of the hypnotherapists themselves - if some of them were shown or told details of the films in advance, it would be interesting to see what memories emerged from the session, particularly if some of the details were deliberately wrong, and some films were of similar looking, but different, children.

That seems like the one of the most objective experiments we're likely to get.

Erroneous views

Post 3


Yeah. It seems to me that, were additional memories that easily available, it ought to be possible to recall them anyway. I have absolutely no evidence for this, but it seems likely that hypnosis simply gives people the confidence to be absolutely certain about the guesses they'd have made anyway.

Memory is notoriously inaccurate anyway, repressed or not - most people have very little idea, I think, that most things they remember are actually disorted and missing important facts.


Erroneous views

Post 4

LL Waz

Having experienced a flashback once I am convinced the memories are there, in great detail. Its just that most of us can't access them consciously.
My flashback was triggered by smell and I relived two or three minutes of my life from ten years previously. It was a very ordinary two or three minutes, nothing that I would have bothered imagining and I had never consciously rememered them in the intervening years. Which is why I'm convinced it was a real memory.
I'd be more convinced of the validity of regressed memory if all it came up with sometimes was the very ordinary.

Erroneous views

Post 5


I Totally agree with what is being said here. Many therapist do guide their clients sometimes unknowingly that is why a good therapist will say nothing, but by just pushing in the wrong place can give the client the impression that there must be something there.

Erroneous Association is well documented and can become a erroneous memory. but if the client is truthful then they will admit they are not completely sure. Not all clients are completely honest.

Only memories where the client can say, without doubt, * I remember that now* and it is as if it was never forgotten, can it be a sure thing.

Remember as children - we imagined a lot of weird and wonderful things, sometime it is the imagination of the child that is mistakenly taken as a real memory - A good therapist can usually dig out the difference. Even these imaginary memories are associated with the forgotten memory so they are an important step to find out the truth - I could go on more about the subject but I think you and I have made this point quite well.

I you have remembered something from the past and it seems like you never really forgot it then it is 95% sure it was real. If you have doubts, however small - it is likely that it was something you imagined many years ago.

Erroneous views

Post 6

Fragilis - h2g2 Cured My Tabular Obsession

I can't speak about remembering ordinary experiences. I did (at the age of 21) remember a traumatic episode from when I was four years old. There's no need to go into details about what happened, so I won't.

Visiting the neighborhood from my early years triggered the flashbacks, and they occurred several times over the course of the next few months. I was not hypnotized at the time. Typically, I was waking up blearily in the morning. I learned that waking up to colors similar to those in my memory seemed to increase the likelihood of a flashback. I thought about this factor, and eventually changed my bedding to a different color.

I went back again to my old neighborhood the next summer, and spoke with a young woman who was formerly a neighbor. She was 7 and in the next room when the event occurred, and she remembered much better than I did. I was very discomfiting, but I left with the sense that I hadn't gone completely bonkers from studying too hard at college. smiley - smiley

Erroneous views

Post 7


Oh - if you had a flashback this can be real or imagination - If you felt like it was like watching a film and you were in there with it - then it could be a real memory, if it feels as if you did not really forget it and it was as if you just didn't think of that event before then it was real memory but if there is the slightest doubt in your mind and the memory feels as if it came from the flashback then it could be imagination.

Erroneous views

Post 8


Many flashbacks come from dreams which are usually inversed, back to front, up side down. Waking flashbacks are usually at the point of waking or going to sleep - actually in a state of self hypnosis or daydream. Forgotten memories are usually something that a person did not want to admit to, so I can understand why you did not want to go into the memory in depth. That fact that it was so close to the surface of your memory means your were ready to accept the item as your fault or the realisation it was in fact anothers fault or just a childish thing we all do.


Post 9


I believe that you had a very vivid flashback triggered by a scent --- the brain centers that control perception of smell are directly wired into the brain centers responsible for memory. It's an retained evolutionary trait --- animals need to have strong memories tied to different smells, since that's how they sense food, predators, and mates.

However, your flashback was not necessarily totally accurate; there's no way to check to see if it was. Although your brain does store loads of information that you're not aware of, memories still tend not to be highly detailed --- our brains "fill in the gaps" later on.

This is also the reason why recovered memories are not given a lot of respect in scientific circles, because experiments have already shown how easy it is to create a "memory" that has no basic in fact. Your brain often has a difficult time distinguishing between a very vivid imagining and an actual memory, and this distinction vanishes almost completely in the state of high concentration known as hypnosis.

Your experience sounds pretty interesting, though!

[bows respectfully]


Dangers of Hypnosis (problems with article)

Post 10


Actually, one of the biggest misconceptions about hypnosis is that it's always safe, because the subject "is always in control". That's a half-truth. We're actually not certain that hypnosis is safe under all conditions, and there are a few conditions in which hypnosis is potentially dangerous.

Scientists have never managed to determine if people in a hypnotic state can really be made to do things they wouldn't normally do. They're tried to demonstrate that people are capable of violence beyond their "normal" natures, but they also found that many people were willing to do exactly the same things in a non-hypnotic state.

They've also attempted to cause people to do things which they were told were extremely dangerous, like pick up a poisonous snake or red-hot iron (neither of which were actually a threat). In some cases, the subjects refused to do so. In others, they did so --- but it was later found that they were aware that there was no threat.

HOWEVER, people who have been told that a dangerous object was actually harmless did do potentially dangerous things while under hypnosis. If you tell a person that a glass of cyanide is just Kool-Aid while they're hypnotized, they can believe it --- and they might drink it, depending on how deeply hypnotized they are. People have also attacked close friends when they were told that they were hated enemies that had to be destroyed.

The argument that a person will not act against his or her beliefs while hypnotized is true --- but it's not a protection, as the state of hypnosis can make a person's beliefs malleable.

There are additional problems with hypnosis. A hypnotic suggestion that is not removed can be potentially EXTREMELY dangerous. I know of one case where a person was instructed to feel ants crawling beneath their skin --- and the hypnotist forgot to remove the suggestion when the session was over. (The hypnotist was a novice; an actual professional would NEVER have done this.) The person was told to remain unaware of what had been said and done during the session, so they didn't realize that they were only imagining the ants. The person was brought into a hospital and was almost mistaken as a psychotic or a drug addict; the doctors nearly gave him powerful psychoactive drugs before they realized what had happened.

Hypnotism, as it is used professionally, is not dangerous. However, hypnotists often downplay the potential dangers of hypnosis to avoid frightening their patients (which is a flaw that most doctors share, sadly).

IMPORTANT: some hypnotic stage acts involve a hypnotized person being placed between two chairs, told to become very stiff, and then sat or stood upon by the hypnotist. While this is a very impressive trick, it is highly unethical, as it can cause serious and permanent damage to the muscles and tendons of the back.

[bows respectfully]


Dangers of Hypnosis (problems with article)

Post 11


Hello Caledonian

There are dangers in all suggestions - whether they are given to a person in the state of hypnosis or not. As I outlined in the article, it is not hypnosis that can be dangerous but suggestions.

These two are often used together (not always) and it is true that if certain suggestions are not lifted (why anybody would give suggestions that there were ants under the skin is beyond belief, but people can do strange things.) they are likely to stay hidden in the subconcious for about two weeks.

Getting back to suggestions - if you suggest to someone they are sitting on an ants nest (not hypnotisd). You watch them start scratching.

Jung once gave a client a very strong suggestion (not hypnotised but in a state of tansference). He told his client not to go climbing mountains as in the clients dream he jumped off the edge. Jung said that the dream was a warning of what he may do.

Later, he did go climbing and did jump off the edge. Jung was reported to have said "Why didn't he believe me". HE DID and took it on as a suggestion of truth, instead of a very natural dream of falling and flying that many people have.

Voodo does not use hypnosis but look at some of the effects of that - Hitler used suggestions and where did that lead us.

So I do agree with you that Suggestions can be and are dangerous, with or without hypnosis and that the suggestions are stronger whilst hypnosis is applied, but hypnosis in itself is very safe and very natural.

Many scientific reports can also come up with the results that the scientist is looking for. Not all variables of the mind are accounted for. If a person feels safe with the hypnotist, then they assume they would never let any harm come to them - they would assume that the fluid was water not poison.

A favourite trick of stage hypnotist is o make someone eat an onion - telling them it is an apple.
Try it yourself with out hypnotising someone. Ask a person to close their eyes and see if they can tell what kind (variety) of apple they are eating and give them an onion - they will not realize at first either.

Your points are well made and thought out - look to the original article ( http://www.h2g2.com/A294798 ) and you will see, in some respects I agree with you.

Jung and mountains

Post 12


The mention of jumping off mountains rather struck a chord with me.
Having spent quite a bit of time negotiating difficult or loose terrain, over and underground, I came to the conclusion that at times of stress, we sometimes just do whatever happens to be in our head at the time, but unfortunately, that can be the thing we're trying to avoid doing.
For example, when walking round a mountain path, I suspect someone is, to some degree, more likely to fall down the slope after a minor slip or stumble if they're thinking "I hope I don't fall down *there*" than if they're thinking "I really want to fall uphill" (I'm assuming you get what I mean by falling uphill.).
Even though the intention behind both thoughts is to survive, the fact that the first still conjures up a mental image of falling off can mean that that image runs a risk of being implemented when a rapid reaction is called for.
It's a bit like moving an uncomfortably hot object with bare hands. If I start by thinking "I must keep hold until I put this down over there", I think I'd be a little less likely to drop the object when pain sets in than if I'd been thinking "I'd better not drop this before I get there"

I guess it's a matter of not being possible to visualise *not* doing something.

Jung and mountains

Post 13


Now you are entering the realm of positive and negative thinking - It is to be the next article I write - Yes if a person on stage wonders whether they will fluff their lines, then the likelyhood is, they will. A bit like your description - I firmly believe people can talk themselves into bad situations and it is not entirely their own fault but wait for the article and I will explain all.

Good point and well worth mentioning - thank you

Jung and mountains

Post 14


I'll look forward to your positive thinking article.

It seems to me there's a sort of middle ground between someone thinking they're going to fail, (where nervousness may build up to the point where they become correct) and someone being particularly positive that they're going to succeed.

In your stage example, I can see someone getting more and more stressed to the point where they start making more mistakes, with a positive feedback process in operation.

It's a little different in my walking example, as the hiker could, though still wary, actually be quite relaxed, but in the instant of reaction to an accidental little stumble, an inappropriate or even unrepresentatively negative thought gets put into practice.

It's more a one-shot *event*, rather than a downwardly spiralling *process*, but possibly that's because the outcome is a single physical action.
When it's more a matter of social gaffes, it can get quite similar to your example - if you're nervous meeting someone you find particulalrly attractive, you can end up blurting out a dumb remark you were specifically trying to avoid saying, basically for the reason that it was flying around in your mind, and was the first thing you could think of when you felt pressurised into saying something.

In the case of physical actions, you can often work out a positive move, or escape route in case of mishaps, in advance ('I'll jump and land just *there*', 'If I start slipping off this ledge, I'll lean across to the other passage wall to stabilise myself', 'If that car pulls out, I can make a quick left turn and miss him'), but when it comes to dealing with other people in a social sense, their unpredictability can make it a lot harder to plan for either success, or damage avoidance.

Also, when it comes to physical actions, mistakes aren't cumulative in the same way - you can make your way unsteadily across slippery ground but don't really feel you've failed until you actually fall over - in fact, each time you slide without falling could be considered as a small success. In social situations, your impression of how you're doing is more subjective, and can get more and more negative with each minor (or imaginary) mistake.

Dangers of Hypnosis (problems with article)

Post 15

Martin Harper

Sorry, I have to agree with Caledonian. Saying that hypnosis is safe because it is the suggestions which cause harm, and suggestions can harm you when you are not hypnotised is rather like saying that not wearing climbing gear when climbing is safe because it is the falls which cause harm, and falls can harm you when you are wearing climbing gear.

If I suggest to you you have ants under your skin, then chances are your rational brain will intercept that suggestion, judge it to be highly unlikely, and throw it away. It certainly won't be storing it in the subconscious for a couple of weeks. Voluntarily removing that mental defence for the benefit of a few party tricks seems just dumb.

There is also the inherent weirdness of saying "We don't understand this, but we know it's absolutely safe" - garbage! nobody knows if it's safe to be artificially put in an alpha state. We already know that other forms of disrupting brain states, such as sleep deprivation, can kill, and we don't have a clue why. Is hypnosis safe? Probably. Is it 100% garanteed safe? No.

Dangers of Hypnosis (problems with article)

Post 16


Just for fun, try doing an internet search on hypnosis sometime.

Half of the things you'll find claim that hypnosis is an evil, insidious form of mind control that destroys a person's soul. That doesn't seem very likely, in my opinion.

The other half of the things you'll find claim that hypnosis is absolutely safe. 100% effective, no possible side effects, nothing to worry about. That's not true either. You can check it by reading some serious books about the subject, and you'll find that hypnosis can be abused or can accidentally have negative effects.

I always find it disturbing when both sides of an argument are wrong... smiley - sadface [sigh]

[bows respectfully]


Dangers of Hypnosis (problems with article)

Post 17


I don't want to appear to be taking sides, but I think the case of ants under the skin might be rather a special case - given that even rational people will start to scratch when someone else talks about itching, and it's by no means unknown for people on unpleasant drug trips to get a more extreme version of the same sensation, it would seem to be a particularly poor choice for a jokey hypnotic suggestion, as only a little encouragement might be enough to push a basically sane person over the edge.

I suppose there's also the rare and difficult situation where people who have latent mental problems before being hypnotised start to show more obvious symptoms at some point after hypnosis. Taking two extreme views, one the one hand, someone could say that any subsequent problem was caused by the hypnosis, whereas another person could say the problem was going to happen anyway, and has minimal connection with the hypnotism itself.

As ever, the truth lies somewhere in between, but it's terribly difficult for even an unbiased observer to work out where with any degree of accuracy or confidence.

Even if hypnotism is some kind of trigger in certain situations, it might well be only the last minor link in a very long chain of causation. It's also conceivable that someone unstable might have a bad reaction largely as a result of their own fears and preconceptions about the potential power of hypnotism, rather than due to anything the hypnotist might tell them. (Though that in itself is a grey area, as the subject's suggestibility is presumably an element in any hypnosis)

I suppose the uncertainty of evidence is one reason why people who are strongly pro or anti-hypnosis can find sufficient support to maintain their convictions.

Dangers of Hypnosis (problems with article)

Post 18


Sorry for taking so long to get back to you - been busy IRLiife.

I still believe that hypnosis is safe but I agree not everything connected to it is.
Yes - because of a higher state of concentration all suggestions are stronger, otherwise why use it. As already stated, people tend to go to one extreme or the other when discussing the subject. The middle ground is more accurate. The Jung example was an inferred suggestion and because of the way it was given - it took root in the subconcious. Addmen (advertisers) all use suggestions to get you to buy their product. We are programmed from birth (almost) to accept suggestions in whatever form they come and no matter how you try to say they do not affect you - They Do! - you may not like it but it is a fact of life, being part of the learning process.

Its people who are dangerous and how they implement it - Self Hypnosis (meditaion) is a natural state of mind. A gun is harmless until you put it in the hands of the wrong person. Is it the Gun or the person which/who is dangerous. (Old argument I know)

An experiencd climber without safety equip. will be safer than a novice because he is aware of the risks and pitfalls.

I could say more but I have to be somewhere,
so I'll catch you all later.
Sorry for any typo's I havent time to check what I have typed.

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