To better understand this, you should read the first write-up on Why We Dream below.
I have had a theory to explain what hypnotism is for many years. The explanation is overly structured for the purpose of analysis. It does explain things I knew about hypnotism and it has explained or predicted other things additional, unplanned outputs.
When I was first taught about hypnotism by a teacher/hypnotist, he described the behavior of people responding to experimenters and stage hypnotists. I also saw a hypnotist show. I had the shock of immediate recognition. When I have seen people hypnotized and read of many examples I was struck by what a willing dupe they are and the similarity to my memory and questioning as a dreamer.
I habitually analyze everything. In order for the dream to continue past obvious inconsistencies such as – the dead-end by my house is now ocean front – in the middle of Queens, NY – miles from the ocean. The doubt is immediately suppressed, glossed over, as in Star Wars: “These are not the droids you are looking for” the suggestion appears that “there has been a lot of rain lately”. And I buy it! The hypnotized in a show are compelled to muddle through a proposed or implied scenario and they ignore an audience that may be laughing at them sometimes mockingly and not supportively. The relationship to the hypnotists is dominantly important and certainly is unique – no other person present has this directive power. As a start, I recognized the dreaming dupe as the same dupe in the hypnotic subject.
I then had to identify the key parameters that would identify differences in the Usual State of Consciousness (USC) vs Dreaming vs Hypnosis. The emergent view of dreaming concurs with my experience and the writings of others on dream and hypnosis experiences.
For the inputs the path is
1. Awake or the Usual State of Consciousness (USC)
This is where I am going: here are the permutations:
State —- Physiolog.State — Consciousness——- Control
USC ——–Awake ——-USC-Consciousness—-USC-Control
Dreaming — Asleep ——-Dream Observer —– Dream Director
Hypnosis —-Awake ——-Dream Observer —– Hypnotist as Dream Director
Here are the three parameters used for analysis in the USC, dreaming and hypnotism:
1. Physiological State: What is the comparison of the USC to Dreaming? The first parameter must be physiological state (awake or asleep). The USC and Hypnotism are physiologically awake and dreaming occurs while we are physiologically asleep.
2. Consciousness – What differentiates the USC from Dreaming? In this analysis, I call the Usual State of Consciousness (USC) consciousness simply USC-Consciousness. The high-level answer is we are cut off from the physical world and are planted in a Dream World. In the dream world there is an obvious parallelism to our awake world. There is a different but familiar experience of “I” and a similar type of consciousness. This is the subjective sense of our span of control and our self reflective experience of our identity and its relationship to our perceived environment and our command of mental resources. Both consciousness are an overall coordinating function that brings together many inputs and outputs many mental resource elements and functions.
In dreaming we continue to command any needed mental resources to complete a task: planning, memory, logic concentration, trial and error, etc. The “Not-I” in the USC is all the reality we experience – the rest of the world including all other people and events. The Not-I in dreaming is a default of everything but the sense of I.
When we dream, we do not control the monster chasing us. It is a Not-I element along with many other Not-I elements. The mood, the time-frame, the theme, external events, surprises the Dream consciousness interacts with many other person-entities. Those other entities – dream people – interact with each other as I watch. The entities are all generated and designed by a Not-I element! This is utterly spectacular and should not be glossed over because it happens every night. By this definition the dream state Not-I elements have to be separated to define the dream sense of I. I call the dream sense of “I” the Dream Observer as do others (Stephen Labarge).
The Dream Observer, as I have so far described it, sounds wholly passive, but; it is really a participant like an overwhelmed improvisational actor swept along by external direction, setting and expectation but still a partner in determining the story line. For this reason I include in the Dream Observer the concept of this dominated but participating improv-actor and a contributor to the story. Dominated, but with a second level of inhibition stops. Some dreams have a media form of stream of consciousness and others have a more pointed message and/or impressive insight and/or a story.
3. Control – Dream Director
I call the Not-I Control element the Dream Director. I am not talking about a light switch on/off mechanism but a relative shift in priority and dominance. When I am the dreaming, I have a lot less control and access to critical judgment. Another center of control has shifted to a higher level of dominance compared to the USC. I have experienced this shift many times as I became lucid when analyzing events such as a long jump a block long. I remember everything experienced in the shift. The metaphor of a film director conducting an improv lesson is right on because we are given an entire world, people, mood, story line, surprises. Think of an overpowering director using improv to teach actors who are overwhelmed and eager to follow any direction without any critical thinking. This is close.
The Dream Observer Consciousness also accepts the illogical dream world as a matter of course. Compared to the dream state, in the USC I have a relatively much higher level access to critical judgement and I have the choice to persist in using it. This control element is intrinsic to the USC, so lets call the USC control element simply “USC-Control“.
The Dream Not-I – The Dream Director (DD) – What are the characteristics of the dream Not-I? The not-I determines that we have a nightmare when I do not want to. It creates other people entities and monsters in our dreams that are not-I. Why am I dreaming about my basement that is changed in incongruous ways. Why have I gone back in time? Where did the theme, feeling and mood come from? Why do I agree to false memories? What compels me to go down the basement when there is a foreboding sense and I don’t want to. It tweaks the story line by turning the stairs into various fun house stairs when we are fleeing the monsters and I do not want this to happen. To me, all of this is clearly not-I the forceful introduction into the dream is a significant, other center of control. What is the shift in to a more dominant control element in dreaming? I call this dream control element the Dream Director. In this view of dreaming, the control element is not absolute but relatively more to the Dream Director. I am only taking about the default when we add up all the not-I. I am not saying that the Dream Director is another person with all the functions of a person, but; there is some coordination especially in a message dream as opposed to a stream-of-consciousness dream.
In dreaming there is a shift in the control element to the “Dream Director” and it is the relative higher control element in the dream state. Relatively, the degree of this control, is not the same as in the USC. In the USC it is probably the hidden observer that can connect with past associations and emotional triggers – the instinct that may give us a tap on the shoulder. It will feed inputs into the next nights dreaming after sifting through the remains of the day and assigning its own importance. Associations are deepened according to the Dream Directors priorities and this is a survival trait. See my write up on Why We Dream attached.
The Control Element in Hypnotism
Where does hypnotism that is somewhat dominating come from? There is an economy in evolution that does not develop extra body part or extra behavior wasting scarce resources. I am not talking about a person referred to as being “hypnotized as they read a book”. Nor am I denying these partial states. I am talking about those instances of a dominating state in which, for instance, a stage hypnotist (or experimenter) can tell a person that mathematics is funny and a person that is usually too inhibited and has no innate acting ability will play the role with conviction. More significantly they will ignore derisive laughter of everyone else in the audience. The hypnotic subject ignores the significance of a large audience laughing at him as directed. He overcomes previous lifetime patterns of sensitivity and inhibition. He is compelled to go along unless a lower level of inhibition is triggered or he finds a way to resist such as sleeping, coming out or ab-reacting. This, to me, is a distinct state from the Usual State of Consciousness. A completely honest and sober person who is directed by the hypnotist, or knowledge of what is expected, will confabulate a story of satanic abuse (so convincingly that the FBI investigated for all the murdered sacrificed babies /other evidence/participants and nothing came of the investigation) or past lives or alien abduction. These effects are spectacular and needs to be explained. The expectation, hint or leads from the hypnotist are accepted as part of the direction as well as the subjects cultural information about hypnotism.
My theory is simply this: The hypnotized person, without changing physiological state, gives up their USC Consciousness sense of self to the Dream Observer consciousness (similar to the Dream Observer of the dreaming State except they still perceive the real world) and allows the control element to shift from USC-control to the control element of the hypnotist acting in similar role to the Dream Director. One obvious induction method is relaxation and related techniques that “bore” the left brain into giving up control just as we do every night! As we fall asleep, before we go into a later prolonged dream state, we can fall into immediate reverie that is dream-like. I do not have an explanation for other induction methods but they must result in the giving up of left brain control element, “I”, of the USC. In dreaming we switch control to the right brain control function of the Dream Director – “Hypnotist as Dream Director“. That is why its unique messages are often in the visual form of a verbal pun. The right brain is normally verbally challenged when it is driving the point.
Here are the permutations:
State —— Physiolog.State — Consciousness——- Control
USC ———-Awake ——-USC Consciousness—-USC-Control
Dreaming —– Asleep ——-Dream Observer —– Dream Director
Hypnosis —— Awake ——Dream Observer —— Hypnotist as Dream Director
-Other outputs not anticipated before I built this combination table-
Lucid Dreaming –Asleep ——USC Consciousness—–USC-Control
Corridor Dream –Asleep —— Dream Observer —— DD not active
Trans. Meditation Awake —— Dream Observer —— Prior Intention
Fugue ——— Awake —— Dream Observer —– Dream Director
This theory also explains why honest persons who are hypnotized will tell convincing stories of satanic abuse, past lives or alien abduction wholly according to the specialty of the hypnotist. The same type of thing happens every night. The dream observer is compelled to go along with the theme and direction. It explains the dangers of false memories. I have supported dream absurdities with false memories many times and this is a lingering effect when I am waking.
Note the other outputs that I did not anticipate when I related the three elements to Dreaming, USC and Hypnosis they emerged and helped to give me the feeling that this theory clicks.
If we become Lucid, become aware that we are dreaming and decide to take control, we shift toward USC-Consciousness and realize we can take control but if we decide to dismiss the dream world we wake up. If we decide to stay in the dream world then we decide what to shift and change. I have done this many times but not regularly. We also in our dream state shift from the passive, submissive Dream Observer to a state approaching USC-Control. When we are lucid, we can change the not-I elements the mood, the entire dream world. We can choose to continue to interact with other dream entities (our dream people created by the not-I Dream Director) or choose to interact differently or dismiss them and our surroundings or change our surroundings. The Dream Director as control element shifts down inversely as our I-control increases. I have experienced this many times as do thousands of others.
Dreaming and hypnotism share a shift in access to critical judgment, inhibition suppressed to a lower level, amnesia, false memories, resistance, lucidity, ability to tune out external stimulus (but hypnotism is not physiological sleep). Why do honest people lie both when they are dreaming and when they are hypnotized? This is why the the hypnotized person is the worst experimental subject imaginable. The hypnotized subject will remember a valid reality better than in the USC but if there is no reality matching expectation then the hypnotized subject or dreamer will confabulate a false memory.
Deconstructionist point out that there are many partial effects and shared elements. This is true. Why does the sharing and mixing of mental functions in other states invalidate hypnotism as a separate state? Partial hypnotism effects or long term effects from therapists (another route to the same transaction?) does not invalidate hypnotism any more than all the partial or shared effects of sleep in rest, momentary reverie etc. invalidate the state of sleep. If we insisted that we address sleep as all or nothing (it can be deconstructed) and we addressed partial effects such a momentary reverie, automatic driving a car to establish a continuum then the state of sleep could be denied with as much logic as deconstructionist use to deny hypnotism as a distinct state. Both have partial elements that may be present in continuums and present in various combinations and degrees.
Let me put it more positively. There are certain states that have been ratified by behavioral evolution: the usual state of consciousness – Awake, Dreaming. There are other states that are combinations of behavioral functions – that is portions of these mechanisms and combinations. Lucid dreaming, Fugue and sleep walking are recombination of behavioral functions that seem to be in the wrong physiological state and are probably not ratified to support survival by evolution. Hypnotism is another recombination but I do not know if hypnotism is ratified.
Consider the symmetry and recombination in the process of becoming a lucid dreamer compared to my suggestion about hypnosis.
In changing from dreaming to Lucid Dreaming we shift our Dream Observer Consciousness from the dominated Dream Observer to the I of the Usual State of Consciousness and Control from the Dream Director to USC-Control while not changing our physiological state.
In changing from the USC – awake to Hypnotism we shift our sense of self from the I of the Usual State of Consciousness from the normal I to the Dream Observer Consciousness and the control element from I-control to the the hypnotist as Dream Director Control while not changing our physiological state.
Can we see these patterns? These shifts and Fugue and Sleep walking and Transcendental Mediation show that such recombinations exist usual or unusual, ratified or emergent.