Life As A Lady Pirate: Hypnosis

What makes a mind open to suggestion?

My apologies for the absence of words from yours truly. When you have a blog and are committed to writing in it each day – you sometimes draw a blank as far as topics are concerned. I hit a wall last week and knew it was time to do some exploring. I’m excited to write about my current adventures starting with hypnosis.

It began with an advertising tag that looks like this:

I figured that because it was at the PUBLIC library which has cameras, people and other things to ward off serial killers, I would go and check it out. After all, I love this stuff. Meditation, Body-Talk, upside-down Yoga; basically anything that leads this lady down the path to enlightenment. I’m CRA after all, with a scramble-egg brain that needs a little seasoning from time to time. If I see FREE next to something that equates to physiological-spice, I’m in there like swim-wear.

Hypnosis comes from the Greek word meaning sleep which is sort-of what the practice hopes to achieve: sleep in a conscious state or hyperawareness.  People have been pondering and arguing over hypnosis for more than 200 years, but science has yet to fully explain how it actually happens. We see what a person does under hypnosis, but it isn’t clear why he or she does it. This puzzle is really a small piece in a much bigger puzzle: how the human mind works. It’s unlikely that scientists will arrive at a definitive explanation of the mind in the foreseeable future, so it’s a good bet hypnosis will remain something of a mystery as well.

But psychiatrists do understand the general characteristics of hypnosis, and they have some model of how it works. It is a trance state characterized by extreme suggestibilityrelaxation and heightened imagination. It’s not really like sleep, because the subject is alert the whole time. It is most often compared to daydreaming, or the feeling of “losing yourself” in a book or movie. You are fully conscious, but you tune out most of the stimuli around you. You focus intently on the subject at hand, to the near exclusion of any other thought.

For people like me with ADHD, hypnosis is a bit hard to achieve. The teacher tried to put me under but was unable to do so. For starters, my brain is a ping-pong table and my body hates standing still. Second, I don’t trust strangers off the bat to put me in a trance-like state and try to reassemble my brain. I’m sure if I knew the guy for more than 5 minutes and built trust, I would be able to relax my mind and focus. Another lady did just that. She was hypnotized to the point where she believed that the handbag she brought was no longer her own. She also was able to sleep at the snap of a finger and wake at the words “Good Morning, Sunshine.” The same thing was done to me only I, out my own co-dependence, went through the motions in order to not embarrass the hypnotist. Truth be told, I couldn’t look the dude in the eye.

I was disappointed at first. I wanted to by hypnotized to work on my low self-esteem which has been particular active these days. I knew it was matter of trust but upon further contemplation I formed a hypothesis that it could be something else. The lady who was successfully hypnotized was there to get over a volatile and abusive relationship. I made up she was a battered woman because she mentioned that she no longer wanted to be hit. This made me very sad. It also made me wonder about the physiological make-up of people who are easily-hypnotized. Typically and statistically, women who are abused find it hard to make decisions for themselves. They are easily controlled by the men who abuse them and are in a constant state of fear and anxiety:

Some battered women are held prisoner in their own homes. Assailants use psychological terrorism and abuse to break down the victims’ will to resist and bring them under control. A worthwhile model is the “Stockholm Syndrome”, which describes how those who are taken hostage begin to identify with, become attached to, and take the side of their captors as survival reactions to life-threatening situations. Batterers employ knowledge gained in an intimate relationship to attack the woman’s spirit, her sense of self worth and thus her ability to resist. Sexual abuse and domination are particularly degrading to the spirit and weaken the capacity to resist. Torture and murder of pets – particularly those special to the woman – is also not unusual.

Psychological terrorism sounds a lot like hypnosis run amuck. Both bend a person’s reality/belief system into something that can be easily controlled. I’m not saying that hypnosis is psychological terrorism or vice versa. I’m thinking out loud and on paper. I understand this is an extreme example and certainly not a happy one. Being a pop-phycholoist I wonder about these things. How does our mind work especially when being controlled by another? If you’re open to suggestion, are an easier to hypnotize? Or if you question things and identify hustles, are you less likely to go under and be in a trance-like state. The same can be said for religion and marketing? Why do we buy the things we buy? Do we need them or are we being manipulated by corporations looking to make a buck? When Jim Jones told his congregation to drink the Kool-Aid and they did, was this a form of hypnosis? Why would you voluntarily kill yourself at the suggestion of another? Who knows? All I do know is that I’m sticking to meditation and working on my trust issues.

If you know a woman who is currently being abused by someone they “love” click here for a list of resources.

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