[ExI] what if...

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Sun Jun 5 08:02:44 UTC 2011

2011/6/4 spike <spike66 at att.net>:
> I have always wondered about something like this:
> http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/06/04/hypnotists-on-stage-injury-leaves-three-audience-members-in-trance/?test=latestnews
> What if… a magician is doing one of these hypnosis acts, and puts some
> volunteers from the audience in a trance, then just before he wakes them, he
> has a heart attack?  What happens to the people in a trance?  Do they stay
> that way forever?  Or do they go to sleep that night still in a trance and
> wake up the next day like nothing happened?  Or what if the hypnotist gets
> them to do some goofy thing the way they do, and the hypnotist trips and
> gets conked out, gets amnesia or something before he can wake them out of
> the trance?  Or what if one of those weight loss hypnotists trances a
> patient until she can lose ten pounds, but then he gets a stroke or
> something and can’t untrance her?  Does she eventually starve?

We enter low level hypnotic states all of the time naturally. It
happens when we drive on a long straight road, sometimes when we are
on elevators, at work at a repetitive task. We come out of these
states as easily as we go into them. It's just a normal part of daily
life. It is a normal function of the brain. I think maybe it was
evolved as a way of dealing with boredom. The selection mechanism
perhaps being that those who fell asleep rather than going into a
hypnotic state missed catching dinner. Just a hypothesis of mine.

A hypnotist just recreates this state intentionally, and sometimes
gets you into a deeper trance than what happens accidentally and
naturally. There is nothing particularly magical about this state, but
it does seem to short circuit some normal function. It leaves you in a
more suggestible state, and your inhibitions are lowered similar to
being under the influence of alcohol. I suspect that both of these
experiences temporarily short circuit the same parts of the brain,
though I can't prove that.

People under hypnosis are not zombies under your complete control.
Post hypnotic suggestions only "take" if the person is open to that
suggestion anyway. There is some evidence that suggests that memories
can be more easily retrieved in this relaxed state, but I don't
believe there are many good scientific studies supporting hypnosis
alone for any clinical purpose. I could be wrong about this, I haven't
looked at the literature for a long time.

Stage hypnotists almost always let people volunteer themselves,
knowing that the people who volunteer are more open to suggestion and
fun than an average person. They come to have fun, and they allow
themselves to have fun in this very strange public way. I don't
believe that people who are hypnotized forget what they did while in
the trance. They might wish to forget it sometimes, when their
inhibitory circuits are restored... :-)

A good hypnotist doesn't even need to put you into a trance state to
implant suggestions. Darren Brown is a stage magician who uses
Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), along with standard stage magic,
and a little hypnosis to get people to do amazing things. He has some
videos on youtube that are absolutely amazing. He had a television
show called "Mind Control with Darren Brown." If we understood how all
of this stuff works (other than the stage magic parts) it would
probably give us some good insight into how the brain works. But I
don't think anyone REALLY knows how it all works, just that it does
seem to work sometimes and people are suggestible. It also implies
that people can be read with much greater accuracy than most of us are
able to read them, if you just know how.

While I don't go in for crystals, new age bullshit, homeopathy and
other snake oil, yet I do think there is something to NLP. It seems
quite effective at producing change in people without the long drawn
out pain of years of circular talk therapy. The most commonly
encountered example of NLP is Anthony Robbins. He is an NLP master who
has taken the pure straight up NLP and has kind of dumbed it down for
the masses. He has obviously been very successful with it. I have also
seen NLP techniques used by major politicians (either consciously or
not, I can't say) and great communicators. Obama is very good at this
stuff, whether he is a natural, or has studied it, I don't know. But
he uses the techniques regularly. Especially when reading the
teleprompter. It's very hard to improvise good hypnotic language.

The core technique of NLP is to find someone who is exceptionally good
at a task, duplicate it exactly until you have the same result, then
unpack it taking away parts that may not be necessary, experimenting,
and finally getting the most compressed form of teaching that task to
someone else. For example, you might find a really good piano teacher,
unpack what they are doing, then get new piano teachers to use the
condensed techniques to teach students with the same effectiveness as
the original teacher. Finally, you teach a new teacher the mechanism
for teaching new teachers and test that the meme has been completely
duplicated. It's really fascinating stuff. Not nearly as magical as
even some of the NLP teachers would like you to believe.

Unfortunately, some of the crystal toting Deepak Chopra types use NLP
in pursuit of their bullshit cons, giving the techniques a bad
reputation. I think understanding how this stuff works is going to be
critical in understanding the brain, and how to best interact with it.
We don't fully understand dreaming, but I think it's absolutely
necessary to the function of intelligence and learning. How and why
are the interesting questions.

If you think this makes me gullible, please say so. I have always
tried to be quite skeptical about this sort of thing, but I've seen
some very strange and unexpected results. People are more machine-like
than most people prefer to think.


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