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Published on May 25, 2015 By Phil Osborn In Life, the Universe and Everything

A used paperback book from 1970  - http://www.amazon.com/Explorations-hypnosis-Dave-Elman/dp/0840211430 - selling for $160 should convey something.  I bought my copy way back when from either Ayn Rand's organization or from the related organization of her former lover, the recently deceased Nathaniel Branden, whose unique contribution to moral theory is reflected in my other blog here entitled "On Morals." 

Busy - Sorry... Back soon - at http://www.kurzweilai.net/first-glimpse-of-new-concepts-developing-in-the-brain/comment-page-1#comment-253860   important news...!!!!

(Eventually I will learn to accept advice.  A few years prior, in Senior High, my honors English teacher gave me a copy of "Fallacy: The Counterfeit of Argument," (1959) which has dropped in price to $118 used on Amazon.  Not that I would cash-in, but I wish I had read and stored away both books more carefully. And it makes you wonder what the impact of copyright is on intellectual culture if key works are not affordable. 

A local intellectual book-reading meetup did a session on common logical fallacies and nothing they found as source material came up to the standard of the 1959 work.  Not many people would just buy a text like that for $100+, one would think; so, how is that price supported?  Supply and demand, no doubt, but copyright artificially ensures that the supply will only decline for most of this century, I'm guessing, and the power of reputation ensures the demand.)

As to Elman's seminal work on hypnosis - which I may still possess somewhere (hope springs eternal), the implications are only now really beginning to emerge in my mind, and only after a number of transformative experiences over several decades.

What I hope to accomplish:

1> Establishing a general context, focused on the finite limits of human consciousness.

2> Exploring how those limits are themselves largely invisible in realtime headspace, and only noticed in retrospect or from watching other people.

3> Demonstrating how easy it is to lose control of one's focus without noticing.

4> Detailing how this limitation of focus opens the door to external manipulation or self-manipulation.

5> Everyday examples of the use of hypnotic techniques to exert and maintain self-blinding or external manipulation, often by sociopaths, but often just as a means of maintaining a personal narrative that serves as a time-binder and provides blinkers against serious diversions into limitless doubt.

6> Speculations on the use of the techniques of hypnosis to exert mind control over masses of people.

7> Personal anecdotal examples of the use of hypnosis.


From my memory of one of Elman's methods of self-hypnosis, here's a strategy that worked many times for me in the '70's, assuming I got it right: 

a> Decide what the suggestion is to be - like almost effortlessly doing 50% more pushups than you are normally capable of.

b> Decide on a neutral keyword trigger, such as a color, some word that has little distracting baggage.

c> Run over the following strategy several times in your head so that you don't lose focus.

d> Think, "now I'm going to say (the trigger) which will be the signal to close my eyes." Say the trigger out loud as a signal to your closing your eyes. 

e> Tell yourself "I'm going to be imagining that I can't open by eyes because the lids are glued shut."  Imagine that your eyelids are glued totally shut. 

f> Repeat the keyword trigger and try to open your eyes while imagining that your eyelids are glued shut.

g> Repeat the trigger to plant the suggestion.  Think to yourself "This time, when I say (the keyword) I'm planting the suggestion that ... will be possible when I'm released from the trance and say the keyword."

h> Now, tell yourself mentally that when you next say the trigger out loud, you will be able to open your eyes.

i> Repeat the trigger to unglue your eyelids

j> Repeat the trigger and watch how many push-ups or whatever you can now do - and with such little effort.  


1> Establishing a general context, focused on the finite limits of human consciousness.

Recommended reference:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Invisible-Gorilla-Intuitions-Deceive/dp/0307459667

How often have you stood frustrated in a checkout line as the cashier divides her time between completing a checkout for one customer, while attempting to simultaneously answer some query from some other customer not in line.  Her attention shifts to the checkout for a second and maybe she performs one action, then turns back to the questioner and says a couple words, then back to the register, and so on.  To the cashier, it seems as though she is efficiently multi-tasking, while to other observers, it is clear that progress toward either end has slowed to a crawl.

Similarly, when a group of subjects were shown a basketball game on video and asked to perform a task of counting each incidence of a particular play, most of them when questioned afterwards had no memory of the man who strode to center stage in a full gorilla suit, beat his chest briefly and then marched off.

As detailed in "The Invisible Gorilla," these kinds of incidents are ubiquitous.  We don't notice the problem in realtime because we only have so much headspace, just so many layers of information that can be processed per clock cycle. We are already at the top of stack and more information is simply not able to register until space opens up.  There is no further metalayer that monitors things like inefficient pseudo-multitasking.

But if things can fall off the edge as our minds are pushed to do the impossible, then that could open the door for manipulation, assuming that someone else could control that overload, causing one to lose sight of a general context and to accept the logical implications inherent in a fantasy.

I recall a couple of incidents from the late '80's~early '90's that may lend a clue.  In one case, I was using a simple video capture board with an Amiga 600 (a badly designed machine in general, but I bought it used for the software).  This device could support live video capture of about one frame per second in hi-res grayscale.  So, I looped in the morning news from my VCR.  I could hear the audio off the monitor, but the video was a series of still frames.   Click ...... click .....click

The startling thing was that I could suddenly and effortlessly see things like camera angles or emotional interplay among the newscasters.  All this metadata that was supposed to be invisible , unnoticed background was suddenly foreground and in my face.  I finally figured it out, years later at LOSCON as a panelist together with a famous TV producer, discussing the psychology of media, I think.  Something someone said triggered that old memory and there went the round peg into the hole.

The color and motion were overwhelming my brain's capacity to integrate.  So where does that lead?  If you keep running past your capacity to integrate, then aren't you at risk of missing a lot?  More specifically, overloading the inputs can put you into a state of hypnosis, because objective verification of what is really important and relevant requires that ability to integrate and reflect. Thus the shortening of attention span.  And, of course, many people get hooked on the overload, which enables the dropping of critical consciousness, reduction of the stress engendered by common cognitive dissonance.  Visual soma; just let it slide. Don't worry about all those missing weapons of mass destruction or all those dead Iraqis on the road to Babylon or their kids and cousins now in ISIS.  Tweet - tweet - Big brother got you covered. 

The other incident was about 1987, when I ran a little 3D maze program on my Amiga 1000.  The author had designed it to use the comic book red/green glasses, and it was all just big blocks of bare walls. Simple.  But something was wrong...  With the glasses on, when I moved my head, the objects on the screen also moved to accomodate the changed perspective, even if I wasn't touching the mouse. Ok, so my mind is calculating this geometry on the fly.  Take the glasses off and everything is static.  Put them on - everything moves with my head.

But what was really strange was watching objects slide behind the edge of the monitor screen as I moved my head to the side, even though removing the glasses instantly moved them back. This wasn't just geometric correction; it bordered on hallucination - the manufacture of non-existents.

And then there was the research compiled by Peter Russell in his "The Brain Book," concerning the limits of input and memory. It seems that we can only maintain focus on one subject for about 45 minutes, during which one hemisphere of our brain is dominant. Most lectures are set to one or one and one half hours. What happens as we approach the limit?

We start day-dreaming or otherwise slip into a state of other hemispheric dominance or simply lock up if we're really pushing it, and we can test this by simply checking for what was remembered.  There will typically be a gap starting about 45 minutes into the material and then a renewed focus toward the end.  The solution for this problem is simple, but rarely employed.  Just take a ten minute break and do something that encourages dominance for the other hemisphere for that period.  For a lecture on logic, play some music and videos of nature shots.  But the problem is not obvious while it's happening and most  people don't have a clue, so we repeatedly lose critical information.

We also enter a state of suggestibility as we try to force feed material while losing integration.

So, what are the limits?  Now we have two of the elements of hypnosis, BTW.


5> Everyday examples of the use of hypnotic techniques to exert and maintain self-blinding or external manipulation, often by sociopaths, but often just as a means of maintaining a personal narrative that serves as a time-binder and provides blinkers against serious diversions into limitless doubt.

I will here reference the classic sociopathic episode from Rand's "The Fountainhead," in which Peter Keating is innocently introducing his girl friend to the sociopathic monster Ellsworth Toohey, who proceeds to completely undermine and annihilate the basis for their love by use of a simple hypnotic device, one that sociopaths all seem to know and employ.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fountainhead

Keating is portrayed as a weak man who secretly admires what he perceives as strength in others.  He worships Toohey, who has befriended him, whose contribution to the world is his newspaper column as an art critic, wherein he takes delight in shooting down any art or architecture that pretends to quality or greatness or integrity of purpose.  Toohey is the champion of a loyal  following of those who are inflamed by envy of and hatred for the good in all forms - for the fact of its goodness. 

So, in-your-face sociopathy for sociopaths is Toohey in a nutshell. Paraphrasing Toohey: "Mr. Roark (the hero of the novel) insults us by his very existence. His unique 'vision' throws in our face the uncomfortable fact of our own weak human frailty, and all the myriad flaws of character we cherish secretly. Inflicting such recognition and pain should be criminalized and prosecuted and such buildings as Mr. Roark has managed somehow to foist off as architecture should be demolished or at minimum toned down to a human level as simple justice and mercy."

More later... 


Notes for next session:  the computer club scene, meetup sociopathy, sf fandom, Elman's self-hypnosis technique, Hitler's use of humor, abuse of humor as a technique for inducing denial, neurosis and pseudo/symbolic values, Stirner and wheels in the head...





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