Hypnotism - is it bunk or is it real?

Sep 2013
7,435
Ireland
I listened to a thing on bbc radio 4 about it last night, apparently the military did some testing but concluded it was quackery and there was no way to hypnotise someone against their will.

I wonder if it's similar to brainwashing?
A woman put a spell on me once.....didn't end well
 

sculptingman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2009
3,693
San Diego
And yet that last bit would go a bit against what black dog was saying. Surely there must be some sort of progress people go through to act like prats, otherwise everyone on camera/stage would do whatever anyone else said.

This also has certain historical consequences and may explain some of the actions of Hitler's willing executioners.
Everyone is not equally suggestible.
And any one of us is not equally suggestible at all times.

The stage trick works because in a large group of people out to be entertained, there always will be highly suggestible people, and even the less suggestible are open to being swayed by performance.
Placing them on stage adds additional pressure to conform- as part of the entertainment.

But people really do tend to mystify hypnotism with no valid evidence in support.

A study was done in which 3 groups of people were treated in 3 different ways-
In one group- they were hypnotized, traditionally- and told they could feel no pain when they stuck a pin into their thigh.

The second group were asked just to stick pins into their thighs.

The third group was simply sat down, and asked if they had ever considered what it would be like if they could not feel any pain... and then asked to imagine they couldn't feel pain when they stuck a pin into their thigh.

Their facial and biometric responses were recorded to determine how much pain they actually were in.


The strange thing is that the group that was ONLY asked to imagine what it would be like to feel no pain, actually performed significantly better than did the group who had been hypnotized traditionally.
This study proved that there is no facility accessed via hypnotism that can not be just as easily or even more easily accessed by mere willing participation.


In recovered memory therapies- the reason so many practitioners got sued is because hypnotism is literally nothing more than getting a person to agree to go along with suggestion.
Putting someone in that mindset is perfect for Planting false memories by therapists who do not even realize they are steering the 'recovery' process thru their own bias and assumptions.

People who are fatigued- tired of making decisions - show a marked increase in suggestibility....
That is why the candy bars, and tabloid rags are sold at the checkout counter in grocery stores- because the shopper has just made 120 purchasing decisions in filling their cart, and is fatigued and more susceptible to impulse.
The store is not laid out this way by accident- the study I was involved in in the mid 70's was commissioned by advertising and marketing consultant groups who were specifically trying to ascertain how they could manipulate suggestibility to sales advantage.
 
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sculptingman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2009
3,693
San Diego
Actually, it can, but it can also create false memories. It's hard to tell the difference. Obviously, it cannot recover "past life" memories.



It can certainly assist, but it cannot make someone quit smoking who didn't want to quit in the first place.
No- it can not recover lost memories.
That is myth.

Anything anyone can recall under hypnosis can be recalled without it.

The fact that it was recalled under hypnosis is not evidence that it was hypnosis that enabled recall- as the same people, without hypnosis, can recall things spontaneously without being hypnotized- often merely as the result of relaxing.

And there really are no such things as 'suppressed' memories. All real evidence indicates that Suppressed memories are all instances of either the subject Pretending to not recall ( not wanting to think about something is not the same as not being able to recall it ) Or the subject Inventing new 'memories' often out of whole cloth.

All memories are re-written every time you recall them... and each recollection has the potential to alter that memory.

There is likewise ZERo evidence in support of a "subconscious mind" or even multiple personalities. Those 'theories" of mind have no scientific support whatsoever- and all study claiming to support these ideas are far more efficiently explained by the fact that patients LIE to their therapists about what they know, why they did things, and what they recall- to shape their therapist's opinion of them or evade culpability for their own actions.

Its akin to the "fiction" of folks calming they can't recall what they did while drunk.
If they didn't get "blackout" drunk- then they absolutely can recall what they did while hammered. We all simply agree to pretend that they can't because its a means to exonerate them of bad behavior. But we all know that many a time we have claimed no recall of drunken idiocy- we can- we're just too embarrassed to admit it.

Similarly- people spin yarns to their therapists about not really knowing why they committed a certain action- when they know exactly why they did it- its just that they did it for an ignoble reason they don't want to cop to.
 
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Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,920
T'Republic of Yorkshire
No- it can not recover lost memories.
That is myth.

Anything anyone can recall under hypnosis can be recalled without it.

The fact that it was recalled under hypnosis is not evidence that it was hypnosis that enabled recall- as the same people, without hypnosis, can recall things spontaneously without being hypnotized- often merely as the result of relaxing.

And there really are no such things as 'suppressed' memories. All real evidence indicates that Suppressed memories are all instances of either the subject Pretending to not recall ( not wanting to think about something is not the same as not being able to recall it ) Or the subject Inventing new 'memories' often out of whole cloth.

All memories are re-written every time you recall them... and each recollection has the potential to alter that memory.

There is likewise ZERo evidence in support of a "subconscious mind" or even multiple personalities. Those 'theories" of mind have no scientific support whatsoever- and all study claiming to support these ideas are far more efficiently explained by the fact that patients LIE to their therapists about what they know, why they did things, and what they recall- to shape their therapist's opinion of them or evade culpability for their own actions.

Its akin to the "fiction" of folks calming they can't recall what they did while drunk.
If they didn't get "blackout" drunk- then they absolutely can recall what they did while hammered. We all simply agree to pretend that they can't because its a means to exonerate them of bad behavior. But we all know that many a time we have claimed no recall of drunken idiocy- we can- we're just too embarrassed to admit it.

Similarly- people spin yarns to their therapists about not really knowing why they committed a certain action- when they know exactly why they did it- its just that they did it for an ignoble reason they don't want to cop to.
Sorry, no.

The fact that the memories "could" be recalled without hypnotism and therefore claiming that hypnotism doesn't "recover" memories is playing with semantics. Hypnotism can indeed assist in helping with recollection. Just because it can be recalled under other circumstances, that doesn't invalidate the fact that hypnotism has prompted the recollection.

Do you claim medication doesn't work because people can recover naturally from illnesses?

All memories are re-written every time you recall them... and each recollection has the potential to alter that memory.
According to whom, and even if it was, what relevance does that have?

There is likewise ZERo evidence in support of a "subconscious mind" or even multiple personalities. Those 'theories" of mind have no scientific support whatsoever- and all study claiming to support these ideas are far more efficiently explained by the fact that patients LIE to their therapists about what they know, why they did things, and what they recall- to shape their therapist's opinion of them or evade culpability for their own actions.
Who's talking about multiple personalities?

As for the "subconscious mind", I'm talking about instinct, reaction and learned response. I don't know what you're talking about.

And the fact that something COULD be an explanation, it doesn't mean that it IS an explanation. You want to believe that it's all because patients lie. That's your prerogative but there is no evidence that all such recovered memories are lies. And yes, false memories are a real thing but it does not follow that all memories recovered by all memories are false. People forget stuff. And later they remember things they've forgotten. That's a fact.

As for that last paragraph in your post, it's nonsense. I've been drunk enough to not remember the entirety of what I did later on in the evening, even when directly confronted with it. I might remember fragments of it, but not all of it.
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,920
T'Republic of Yorkshire
Everyone is not equally suggestible.
And any one of us is not equally suggestible at all times.

The stage trick works because in a large group of people out to be entertained, there always will be highly suggestible people, and even the less suggestible are open to being swayed by performance.
Placing them on stage adds additional pressure to conform- as part of the entertainment.

But people really do tend to mystify hypnotism with no valid evidence in support.

A study was done in which 3 groups of people were treated in 3 different ways-
In one group- they were hypnotized, traditionally- and told they could feel no pain when they stuck a pin into their thigh.

The second group were asked just to stick pins into their thighs.

The third group was simply sat down, and asked if they had ever considered what it would be like if they could not feel any pain... and then asked to imagine they couldn't feel pain when they stuck a pin into their thigh.

Their facial and biometric responses were recorded to determine how much pain they actually were in.


The strange thing is that the group that was ONLY asked to imagine what it would be like to feel no pain, actually performed significantly better than did the group who had been hypnotized traditionally.
This study proved that there is no facility accessed via hypnotism that can not be just as easily or even more easily accessed by mere willing participation.
ANd yet hypnosurgery works.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnosurgery

Here's an article explaining how and why:
https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/surgery-under-hypnosis/

And again, the fact that other methods work as well does not invalidate the fact that hypnotism works too.

In recovered memory therapies- the reason so many practitioners got sued is because hypnotism is literally nothing more than getting a person to agree to go along with suggestion.
Putting someone in that mindset is perfect for Planting false memories by therapists who do not even realize they are steering the 'recovery' process thru their own bias and assumptions.
Because the therapist is beginning with an assumption and leading the patient towards that. They are imposing their belief on the patient, not arrive at their own conclusion.

"Did he touch you here?"

not

"Did anything happen?"
 

sculptingman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2009
3,693
San Diego
Sorry, no.

The fact that the memories "could" be recalled without hypnotism and therefore claiming that hypnotism doesn't "recover" memories is playing with semantics. Hypnotism can indeed assist in helping with recollection. Just because it can be recalled under other circumstances, that doesn't invalidate the fact that hypnotism has prompted the recollection.

Do you claim medication doesn't work because people can recover naturally from illnesses?
Ah- well you are making a fundamental error in reasoning. There are no double blind studies showing hypnotism is effective at recalling lost memories.
Not one.
Psychobabble theories are almost never tested because they rely almost entirely on self reportage- which is not empirically verifiable.

But medications are only considered effective if they return a statistically significant increase in actual recoveries.


The fact that hypnotherapists or their patients CLAIM to have recovered memories is spurious... because they have proven irrefutably that "false" memories CAN be planted in patients and that those memories SEEM to be just as valid as actual events.

For example- they have done experiments where they have interviewed patients about family histories that are then verified with other family members.... A year later- the subjects were put thru a suggestion interview- or hypnotism- that led them to recall the family event they had formerly recalled accurately- but with the insertion of details, or people present that were not there.

Subsequently- the subjects were absolutely convince that the "planted" memory was their actual experience and they agued vehemently with family members who tried to convince them otherwise.

Similarly- In the infamous McMartin pre-school trial- therapists with no real conception of how manipulative suggestion can be convinced a dozen children that they had been violently and satanically molested by a group of pre-school
providers.


They did not do so intentionally- they simply allowed the narrative of what authorities told them had happened to creep into their interviews and sessions with the kids- unconsciously steering the children to make up the details that all turned out to be utter lies.


According to whom, and even if it was, what relevance does that have?
According to ACTUAL scientist studying how the human brain forms memories.
There were a bunch of major stories about this when it came out- and the movie Eternal Sunshine of theSpotless Mind was based on the notions that scientists might now selectively erase or alter specific memories.

Each time a memory is recalled, the brain cells encoding that memory become plastic, and the memory is Re-encoded. Each re-encoding is not a copy of the original memory, but is integrated with the current state of the mind and its understanding- i.e. that new associations are formed and others erased. ( in the form of synaptic linkages to other cells )
The conclusion of the study is that the more frequently you recall a given thing, the more likely it is to have been altered in ways that make it less likely to be a true reflection of the experience.

Really- that's how memories are made- and the finding also explained WHY false memories are so easy to implant- because old memories are not written in stone- but in sand.


Who's talking about multiple personalities?

As for the "subconscious mind", I'm talking about instinct, reaction and learned response. I don't know what you're talking about.
It was an example of how there are lots of popular 'theories' of how the human mind works that have never been tested and are predicated on assumptions that are patently untrue or unverifiable.

The same group of folks who believe in suppressed memories and the magical power of hypnotism tend to believe in the "sub-conscious mind" as the agent that actively suppresses traumatic memories. In fact, there is zero evidence that anyone can suppress a traumatic memory in any manner that they can not recall. What they do is feel distress when thinking about certain memories and so they actively try to avoid thinking about it.

Not the same thing as being UNABLE to recall.


And the fact that something COULD be an explanation, it doesn't mean that it IS an explanation. You want to believe that it's all because patients lie.
Sorry- you are mixing up things proven with things unprovable once again.
It is a FACT that patients lie to their therapists. ALL therapist KNOW this. They Catch their patients lying all the time.

And in science Occams razor holds- the simplest explanation is most likely to be accurate. So either SOME human beings can have a WHOLE myriad of different "personalities"- each of which has tis own identity... thru some complex means of psychic fragmentation that has never been observed, in a brain that does not show any such capacity, organically...
Or- patients lie about what they can recall, or their own awareness of why they did something shameful.

Since all patients are already routinely lying. And there is NO evidence the brain can harbor any multiple personalities... it is unreasonable to assume an arcane complexity that is unproven- when people lying to evade responsibility for their actions an established human behavior that has very simple advantages that explain why it arose.
( patients diagnosed as multiple personality can all be shown to have been coached or guided to those behaviors by their therapists - i.e. therapists who do not believe in that narrative never find patients with multiple personality )

This is not to be confused with true schizophrenia- in which patients hear voices... but this is well understood to be a dissociative structural flaw in the brain where the subject does not identify the NORMAL 'voice in your head" as their Own internal voice. They suffer the delusion that the voice that we all have is not them, but some other voice. But this is not multiple personality.



That's your prerogative but there is no evidence that all such recovered memories are lies. And yes, false memories are a real thing but it does not follow that all memories recovered by all memories are false. People forget stuff. And later they remember things they've forgotten. That's a fact
Um- yes there is. There is Zero evidence they are "true"- There is copious evidence that they can be and ARE planted in peoples minds thru the power of suggestion.
Ergo- suggestion Can plant memories that are false, and the therapists ignorance of this fact leads them to do so without even knowing they are doing it.

The science is in- the more you recall a memory- the more it drifts away from the original experience. And memories are entirely plastic.

And yes- people can 'forget things'- but have they actually? Not having thought about something in a long while is NOT 'forgetting"- it hasn't erased the memory. You simply haven't experienced anything in that long while that prompted recall. And then you did.
That is how ALL long term memory works.
Some memories are more densely connected to other memories and are more frequently prompted. Others may have only a few links and so will only be recalled if those few links get activated.

But the brain is not a tape recorder. It records our impressions of what we imagine is going on. it doesn't see everything that happens in any scene... and quite often misremembers what happened in the light of internal narrative.
i.e. people who 'see' ghosts did not actually see a ghost- they are recalling a false delusion created thru pareidolia.

once more- Hypnotism is when a person defers to Suggestion- Recovering memories thru hypnotism Starts with the therapist suggesting there are suppressed or forgotten memories to recall and works from there. It is literally like treating alcoholism with vodka.


As for that last paragraph in your post, it's nonsense. I've been drunk enough to not remember the entirety of what I did later on in the evening, even when directly confronted with it. I might remember fragments of it, but not all of it.
Of course you remember fragments of it. The myth is thinking we EVER recall anything MORE than fragments of our experience.

When drunk, your memories are less coherent in proportion to inebriation...
but you recall.
And claiming you don't is actually exculpatory.

But then, i don't expect you to admit to lying to cover up your own misbehavior - not to me any more than you might to a therapist, or a police officer.
 
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sculptingman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2009
3,693
San Diego
ANd yet hypnosurgery works.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnosurgery

Here's an article explaining how and why:
https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/surgery-under-hypnosis/

And again, the fact that other methods work as well does not invalidate the fact that hypnotism works too.
Hmm- once again you don't get it. I am not saying hypnotism doesn't WORK- as hypnosis- if i were saying that then i would not be warning that it CAN plant false memories.

But it only works as Suggestion to those Willing to go along.

Thus- my own example for the Pin in the Knee experiment proves that Suggestion alone can help people moderate their own experience of pain- the point to that story was that hypnosis can do it- AND that merely having a conversation openly eliciting cooperation can do it too- that is- that ALL forms of suggestion are effectively the sam as hypnosis.

A hamburger commercial is a form of hypnosis- they come on near meal times and try to sway those open to suggestion to feel like getting a hamburger.

THAT is what hypnotism is and what it does.
Its effectiveness at manipulation is its danger.



Because the therapist is beginning with an assumption and leading the patient towards that. They are imposing their belief on the patient, not arrive at their own conclusion.

"Did he touch you here?"

not

"Did anything happen?"
Sorry- but you are wrong. A therapist saying "did anything happen" is STILL steering the narrative. Because they simply keep saying it, over and over, until the child says something more in line with the therapists own bias or expectation. And then the therapist subtly rewards the child for saying the "right" things.
This has been proven to happen in ways so subtle the therapist can not control it. Body language. A sigh. A sudden change of topic... all kinds of very subtle cues that push a patient to seek that feedback thru inventing details.

Human beings CAN NOT keep themselves from giving cues and feedback.

Therapists trying to recover memories always start with an assumption of the KIND of 'repressed' memories they are looking for- This simple fact has been proven to result in their finding exactly what they are looking for.

ETA- oh, and BTW- an authority telling the Therapist that they need to know if this child has been molested- is actively planting a SUGGESTION in the therapist's mind. The therapist is walking into the room under that suggestion. that is- he himself has been hypnotized. An authority figure told him what he is likely to find- and so he looks harder for that than anything else.

This, too, is hypnosis, and this is its danger- in 'official' hypnosis, someone ASKS you to voluntarily give up your own will to theirs. But we are hypnotized all the time unawares. The Therapist speaking to the authority prior to the interview is merely OPEN to hear what the authority has to say- but he can not help but be lulled by the fact of this being an authority in placing more credence in the authority's suggestion.

The therapist is unwittingly agreeing to adopt the authority's suggestion, and the fact that he does not even recognize the authority as planting suggestion only makes the suggestion more effective- because the therapist is not even aware he has surrendered his own 'objectivity' to the officer's narrative.

That is how you manipulate whole populations.

So, yeah, hypnotism works- ALMOST as well as simply asking people to suspend their own will and pretend.

Advertising is hypnosis. And so are public speeches.
And concert performances.

Its simply the human evolved trait to go along- to band into mob- to get swept up in other's excitement or agenda.

And we also evolved a certain percentage of Non-Suggestibility... because there has to be a moderator on peoples willingness to do as they are told.

We sometimes need to hear a different person telling us to do a different thing, so that we can wake up and realize that we are making a choice.

There is nothing amazing about hypnotism except the hype.
 
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rvsakhadeo

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
9,224
India
So for that chap he didn't remember anything but for others they do.

I wonder if there's a time limit to hypnosis? Could you just leave someone pretending that they're a chicken and that be that?

I wonder if this would have more dangerous repercussions, such as turning someone to assassination or terrorism?

It seems that we've a great swathe of the human mind that has been known about for a while yet is little understood.
Surely you have read the novel ' The Manchurian Candidate ' in which a US prisoner of war in Korea is brainwashed into obeying whatever commands received by him when he sees a particular card in a deck of cards. He has been programmed to kill the US President !
 

rvsakhadeo

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
9,224
India
The victim of brainwashing is highly intelligent US Army officer and one whom the reader might think as not susceptible to suggestions / brainwashing. Yet he is programmed to carry a deck of cards with him.When his ' handlers ' want him to act in a certain way, the first command is ' open the deck of cards and lay the cards one by one in front of you.' On him doing so, the second command is given. On seeing a particular card which he has been pre -programmed to recognise, he is given his second command to do a particular action.
 
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rvsakhadeo

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
9,224
India
In the Vietnam war in the sixties of the last century, the US prisoners of war were required to write and rewrite their autobiographies. In this way eventually , they started to see themselves as guilty of war crimes etc.and were made susceptible to suggestions.