Tuesday, September 6, 2011
A Model Of Hypnosis
A MODEL OF HYPNOSIS
I shall later discuss in detail the significance of these phenomena with regard to my general theme. Before that, however, I shall try to explain what hypnosis actually is and how such unlikely phenomena come about. Science has no generally valid theory of hypnosis, and I do not wish to add my own to the large number that exist. Instead I shall just give a few illustrative examples in order to throw some light on what happens in hypothesis.
Let us imagine that we are in a theater. The performance has not yet started and we are observing the hustle and bustle around us. Our attention is not yet focused on one point, so a lot can be taken in at once. We notice the people, the interior of the theater, how our neighbors are dressed. We take a few glances into the program and at the same time we hear the tuning of the instruments. We are aware that it is Saturday night and consider having dinner at a restaurant after the theater as tomorrow morning there will be time for a good, long sleep.
The lights go out, the curtain rises and the performance begins. The story is gripping. Our attention, which a few moments earlier was roaming freely about, now concentrates more and more on the action depicted on stage. At the same time everything else in the vicinity loses its importance, and we become indifferent to it. As we share despair and hope with the hero on stage, we no longer think about the day of the week or about dinner after the theater. We literally forget that there are other people around and, for a time at least, that we are in the theater at all. Only when the curtain drops and the lights are back on do we return to the “here and now”.
What happens in such a situation is simply that consciousness is concentrated on one point. In this process the focus of consciousness is narrowed down to the particular object of interest. At the same time everything else disappears from our consciousness and field of perception. This process happens every day with varying intensity. We all know the experience of being so absorbed in the reading of a book that we do not hear when someone calls or talks to us. We make use of the same effect in the case of a child who has hurt himself and is crying. We try to distract him by showing him something interesting. He forgets, literally within seconds, all pain, because the pain moves outside the zone of perception.
The common factor in these examples is the narrowing of consciousness to one point. As an analogy, picture a source of light which illuminates a relatively large area by means of a wide-angle lens. If the wide-angle lens is replaced with a converging lens, the light is concentrated and a strongly focused lightbeam picks out a tiny point, plunging the surrounding area into darkness. The intensity of light at this point is far greater than when the light was diffused. Not only does this concentrated light illuminate one point intensely, but it can also burn a hole and thereby penetrate a new dimension of depth – think of a burning glass and a laser beam.
In the analogy light stands for consciousness. Our diurnal consciousness is usually comparable with a wide-angle lens. But when we concentrate, the focus narrows and picks out one point exaggeratedly. Then it may happen that our consciousness penetrates to a deeper layer and a new, previously unconscious, dimension is reached. This breakthrough to a new level is the turning point, where what was at first a narrowing of consciousness is transformed into a widening of consciousness.
In all ages there have been people who tried to induce this process at will in themselves and in others, developing the most varied techniques for that purpose: concentration, meditation, hypnosis of various kinds, biofeedback and so on. Hypnosis is therefore just one of the possible techniques for obtaining access to an unconscious level.
At this layer of the unconscious we find, among other things, those “programs” that are responsible for the control of all autonomous actions of the body. Most of us do not consciously control the body temperature, the secretion of the hormones, the level of blood sugar, the heartbeat, and so on; all these functions are controlled by programs in the subconscious. During hypnosis we suddenly gain access to the “program center” which otherwise is inaccessible, and certain programs may be exchanged for other ones. The effect of the newly implanted program can be immediately observed.
Let us think of a big house with a continuous stream of music in all rooms. If somebody gains access to the room where the sound equipment is and changes the cassette the music throughout the house is also suddenly changed. This is exactly what happens in hypnosis. If we insert the program “heat” the entire body perspires. The program “insulin” decreases the level of bloodsugar.