Hypnosis is a very interesting state. You may already have a certain image of it in your mind, the one in which an illusionist is manipulating someone on a scene, for the entertainment of viewers. After the illusionist works his magic, the person enters into what appears to be a submissive state, and does all sort of weird things. When she wakes up, the person doesn’t seem to remember what she did, to even more amusement for the viewers.
Although this image is correct, is also incomplete. The hypnosis state may occur after a variety of stimuli (meaning it’s not some secret, magic art mastered only by illusionists), and it doesn’t always manifests as a submissive state. The reason you observe it like that is because the magician chooses the person to experience submission in her hypnotic state, but this is not a given, you may experience any state, from extreme compliance to instant aggression.
What really happens in hypnosis is that we’re short-breaking some of the brain’s circuits, entering a state of “suspended disbelief”. If you read my blog for a long time, then you remember my preference for this wording, instead of “hypnosis”, which seems to be overused and confusing.
In this state of “suspended disbelief”, our rational barriers are lowered, and we experience reality without the usual fences. We don’t check what we experience with our usual filters and, as a result, we deem as “true” almost anything. For instance, we may enter a state of suspended disbelief while watching a movie, and start participating emotionally at what we perceive as being the life and adventures of some real persons. What we are really experiencing, though, is just pixels moving on a screen. That’s all there is to it. And yet, our suspended disbelief state “plays along” and accept those shapes and their interactions as valid persons and activities.
Now, back to the person on the stage. Because the suspended disbelief state, that person follows along the orders of the magician as they are real (which, for the person, really are) and, because the magician tells her not to remember anything after she goes out of hypnosis, she will really not remember anything.
Why the long introduction? Well, because hypnosis, especially mass hypnosis, is a widespread phenomenon these days.
As I mentioned above, hypnosis is not a secret art. It’s actually relatively easy to induce hypnosis, once you get consent (which may be explicit or implicit), and, with the large exposure to information we have these days, we’re almost always in some sort of suspended disbelief state.
Yes, I know it’s hard to accept we can also be hypnotized and not even realizing that. But the first step to avoid a danger is to understand and accept that we’re vulnerable to it.
How To Talk To A Hypnotized Person
We’ll get back to what we should to do minimize the chances of being hypnotized in a later post, for now let’s assume we’re “the good guys”, let’s assume we have a decent grasp of reality, but, for some reason, we’re exposed to a person who’s in a deep state of hypnosis, without really knowing that.
Let’s say a hypnotized person believes a certain political party is the good one. That person has been hypnotized by:
- direct and indirect propaganda (tv, street ads, internet)
- in person events (rallies and gatherings)
- informal conversations (reinforcement through similar opinions, from the same group)
- radical opinion from the opposite side (which confirms their group is “the good one”)
So, how do we talk to such a person?
First and foremost, don’t contradict her on that topic. It’s irrelevant, useless and it only reinforces their beliefs. For them, the illusion they’re living is reality. It’s like someone would start convincing you, out of the blue, that gravity doesn’t work. You know very well gravity works, and you got millions of reinforcements of this belief. Similarly, for that person, the belief they’re holding was reinforced, while they were in the suspended disbelief state, gazillions of times.
Second, don’t engage in conversations on the specific topic they’ve been hypnotized about, unless it’s absolutely necessary. You can still have a decent relationship with a hypnotized person, as long as you’re not touching the sensitive spots. Hypnosis doesn’t short-break all the circuits. Back at our illusionist example, even for the person on stage, basic tasks like walking, talking, drinking water, are still doable. The “spell” is partial, and, in this case, short lived. So, if you do have to interact with a hypnotized person, not only try to not contradict her, but try avoiding conversations on the specific topic entirely.
And third, wait. Sooner or later the hypnotic state will fade out. Eventually, they will have to face the reality. In our case, they will slowly understand that their choice in politics may not be as great as they initially thought. I say that because all our choices in politics are not that great as we initially thought. Politics is by definition the largest implementation of mass hypnosis: short-breaking some parts of people’s brain with massive propaganda, so they vote for your party. Without being in a state of suspended disbelief, any sane person will see the main goal of politics is predominantly about acquiring personal power, and way less about serving other people’s interests. Of course, realizing we’ve been hypnotized may take years. In some cases, this may take generations. But it eventually happens.
The Goals Of Collective Hypnosis
By now you may at least played with the idea that collective hypnosis is somehow related to power, manipulation and influencing people in various directions. Yes, that’s how it works. From advertising, which hypnotizes us to spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need, to political campaigns, which hypnotizes us to give out freedoms while thinking we’re enhancing our lifestyle.
Lately, it spreads into healthcare, by using the same propaganda to distort the actual danger of certain illnesses, with the goal of increasing submission and addiction to certain commercial medicines. Like in all the other cases, healthcare-related mass hypnosis doesn’t zombify people completely, it just short-breaks some circuits, aiming to trigger a certain chain of decisions.
Collective hypnosis comes in waves and sometimes the waves are bigger and more powerful. During these peaks is easier to get swept in and succumb to the delusion.
Staying aware is the only way to survive these waves.
Even the deepest dream eventually ends.