On Hypnosis. (Very rough draft, no revision been done)
Very few people really know what terms "Hypnosis" and "Hypnotism" really mean. Hypnosis as a word has some Greek roots, 'hypnos' in greek means sleep. It is believed that the founder of the Hypnotism was Anton Mesmer, a physical doctor who had a theory that it is possible to heal people by some mystical power of magnets. At that era (1600 France?), hypnosis became know as Mesmerism. Hypnosis as a scientific term(psych.), has a specific definition: "A state of mind of high suggestability". Basically it means that a person is in a state of consciousness where if I tell him anything, no matter how illogical it may sound, he will believe it, and even act upon it. There are many useful applications of hypnosis, like removing irrational fears(phobias), helping people facing their inner self and working out inner problems that are difficult to bring up to the surface of the conscious everyday mind. Even today scientists do not exactly know how hypnosis works, and why people act in certain ways while in that state of consciousness. As I stated above there is a lot of misunderstandings exist about hypnosis, let us explore why.
When thinking of someone who is hypnotised, we usually imagine a person sitting or standing with their eyes closed, looking like they are asleep. It seems that they have no will power and can not act on their own, without control of the hypnotist. This is all only partially true.
If a person acts like he or she is asleep it does not mean that they are totally unconscious. If we take a look closer, we would notice that hypnotised person usually moving his/her eyeballs under the closed eyelids, giving us an impression that there is some inner drama unfolding in their minds. When in that state of consciousness, one usually has his total attention turned within, and usually is not aware of the immediate environment. We can understand how it feels when we would remember any last time we had a day-dream.
Attending boring class, usually bring that experience about. When day dreaming, we are usually thinking about something completely different then about what is going on at that particular moment. It seems that external sensory stimulation has less affect on our minds, as well as we usually would loose the sensation of time passing. And when a professor "accidently" calls you by your name, you seem to "wake up" with a jolt, not knowing what has been going on for the past 20 minutes. That was the case of a "classic college daydream", where you were partially hypnotised, not by anyone else, but by yourself. You were not asleep, in fact your mind was highly active, contructing and viewing landscapes of inner reality within. Only on the outside your appearance was suggesting that you are "out of it".
Reflecting to this very common experience you can imagine how hypnotised person really feels. The main difference is the who is hypnotising who. You can also imagine it as being a "guided" day dream. Where a hypnotist is acting as a guide, while you are listening to his instructions. There is nothing mysterious about hypnosis, merely it is a guided shift of the focus of your perception. Usually, from the moment we wake up, our perception is immediatly directed outward on the physical reality. The stronger focus is on anything, the less we able to perceive things that we are not focused on.
And now, the main question: why should anyone would want to be hypnotized. Well, why not? The curiosity about one's own mind or perhaps even existence is one of the fundamental things that humanity ever been curious about. Let us look more closely at our own everyday mind. As we look within ourselves, it almosts seems that mind has a mind of its own... There are many thoughts, some of them are more intense then the others, we can feel it by our emotional response to each one of them. Truly, there are no loud thoughts, and there are no quiet thoughts either; but each one of them is carrying a certain "charge" of association with some other thought or experience. It seems that all thoughts are interconnected by the net of association. Now let us try a little experiment: try to stop your thoughts from bringing the other thoughts in your mind. For example count from 1 to 20, without thinking of anything else but hearing your mind call out those numbers.
Quite difficult is it not? In fact some of you may find it almost impossible to complete your count without thinking of something else besides counting. Why is it so diffucult? Because our mind is not used to control itself. Some can control their emotions, but to control one's own thoughts is a step higher achievement. Imagine that a part of your mind is like a laser disc containing all of the experiences in this lifetime. There is also another part that scans this disc for associations. Let us also imagine that that particular part has properties of a laser beam that is directed upon our memories. Some people have this beam being very thick. Usually a thick laser beam is a less focused laser beam. It is directed at wide range of memories at the same time, enabling us to recall events very very fast, but sometimes without conscious control as it becomes a habit.
Now, when the person is hypnotized his/her laser becomes focused and thin allowing to retrieve the memory under precise control and not being distracted by other thougts, simply because the other thoughts that are having association with that particular "track" of the mind are out of range of that laser beam. Of course this beam can be directed at any memory "track" at any time, allowing us to experience high quality of memory recall as oppose to the thick beam that bring a lot of "scratchy" mixed memories from different tracks. It is almost like playing several tracks at once on a CD player, the music would not be very pleasant. Of course this is not all of it; the mind is a lot more complex than that, but I think that this example is good enough to show how memory is being accessed while in the state of hypnosis. If I would be in place of a hypnotist I would be the one who would specify where that "laser beam" should be directed.
Hence the mind of the one who is hypnotized is very focused, the outside world distractions are minimal; I can suggest to review (recall), a particular memory by suggesting to go back in time to the certain event, or to call a date (usually the year, for general nonspecific memory recall), where a subject should direct his attention. The information exchange is usually handled by a simple vocal dialog. The memory is being channeled into the concsious mind and than expressed thru vocal cords.
This area in hypnosis is called hypnotic regression. Usually under hypnosis, the subject is so focused on the inner perception - he does feel the passage of time. The time is felt by the intensity of the experience of the memory recall. It can either be very saturated, where images seem to pour into the mind at the very high speed, or very gradual and slow. In the first case the subject seems to feel that there has more time passed than in actuality, while in the second case it is the other way around. Very few subject seem to show any kind of active initiative in _judging_ the experience, while in it. The majority would not volunteer any information unless I ask specific questions. But there have been case in my experience when the subjects are either amused or amazed at their own memory recall; without dropping out from the state of hypnosis. My theory is, that those people have achieved the balance between their conscious and subconscious minds, and the flow of information is very smooth.
One of the most interesting features in hypnotic regression is the phenomenon of a "past life recall". Where a hypnotist regresses a person to the time before the actuall time of birth. People tend to recall the events that were not in their conscious memory before. If I would suggest for my subject to go back in time for example to 1755; and if such past life existed for that particular individual, most likely he would describe himself/herself as having a different identity. Usually going by a different name and living in different country. There have been cases where subjects were able to speak the languages of that particular time and place, while not being able to speak it while in a normal state of consciousness. My theory is that the memory that we tap into is not a memory recorded in the brain, but in a spirit itself. Upon "awakening" subjects usually do not bring back everyday life skills from their past lifes, while they can perform them under hypnosis. I tend to believe that the areas studied in a past life can enhance individual's ability to perform the same thing in the present; certains inborn talents would be good examples of this.
The most fascinating phenomenon is an ability to recall a death experience from a past life as well as the time in-between lifes. There is so much to say about it, therefore I will dedicate a review of those experiences to the next chapter.