I actually began this piece last winter, when my ex was still claiming that I had been hypnotized to physically attack him and then forget afterward. That, he said, would explain why I had no idea what he was talking about.
` I asked several people, including hypnotists, and even Jamy Ian Swiss, whether or not this made any sense. They helped me to trust my own judgment and see that he was just trying to make me think that I was crazy. (See: gaslighting.)
Just after finishing this piece in early May, I witnessed my very own podcasting co-host, "Dr. Hypno" actually hypnotize one of his clients on our way out of the grocery store. She told me that she had been smoking since age 11 and had stopped after one session with him.
` Since the tar was finally leaving her lungs, she had developed bronchitis. Although she was recovering, she said she had wanted a suggestion to help her breathe freely again. Once we were in the parking lot, he did a handshake induction and made the appropriate suggestions as her husband and I watched in awe.
` She was astonished and elated at how she could suddenly breathe better -- apparently, even your lung functioning has a great deal to do with suggestible involuntary responses, as with asthma.
I confess that pieces of this article started out as a blog post last winter, yet I had neither the brain functioning or internet access to make into a proper article with lots of info and references aside from my own notes, knowledge, and personal experiences.
` So, I decided it would be best to adapt into an email for the edification of, yes, Mr. George Hrab -- a process which I have mentioned in this post.
As it would take a great deal of work to adapt it into a blog post, I'm going to leave it fairly much as-is. So, now you get to see the 'missing link' between my occasional (and relatively short) "normal" fan emails to Geo and the others I've already posted on this blog:
...You seem to be the type to seek novel information and experiences, which shows in your creative endeavors. Yet, you have said you haven't had many dramatic changes in your life which have challenged you to exponentially shift your priorities, attitudes and thinking/life habits in a short amount of time.
In other words, you like to expand your mind and improve what you do normally, yet you don't seem to have been challenged to rethink your life to the point where it all breaks down and you have to rebuild your lifestyle and assumptions -- thereby dramatically accelerating your personal development and inspiring new meaning and ideas in your works.
As you've implied on your show, the overwhelming preponderance of your mental and creative development has probably ticked by rather steadily, if unpredictably, over the years. So, what if you could condition your mind to make itself increase your creative output and skill?
You've also mentioned how you're not getting any younger, so perhaps if you could accelerate your creative-growth processes, you would find that grand masterwork within you before you die.
As someone whose life is regularly turned upside down, my mind is often forced to see a new horizon, so I can't really stay mired in a rut forever. This would normally be a good thing if I didn't tend to blunder into an even deeper rut before being forced to take my mind off-road.
The trick is to avoid being blinded by the light at the end of the reality tunnel.
Of course, you're probably wondering whether this sort of broad and metaphorical verbiage is hiding something insipid and potentially dangerous. That something actually is potentially dangerous, although I would also describe it as inspiring and invigorating as well.
This is especially so because I've learned it from the aforementioned world-class hypnotist (my co-host "Dr. Hypno"). He helped me stop the PTSD and the conversion disorder, and is now teaching me to be a street hypnotist of doom.
The carrier pigeon message was meant for him, by the way, as it barged unexpectedly into the middle of our conversation on (April) 26th. It came from another hypnotist I had been talking to earlier at a meetup, and whose (now former) girlfriend was attracted to Dr. Hypno. Frankly, I don't blame her.
I was telling D.H. about something that happened on a recent hypnosis-related trip of hers when I stuttered, feeling as though I couldn't continue speaking, and then did so anyway. But instead of going on with what I was saying, I delivered a hypnotic "cockblocking" command in the same monotone and measured way that I dimly remembered this hypnotist using while we were chatting in the parking lot.
The command was unusually slow, didn't make sense to me as it came out of my own mouth, and from what I remember, ended with, "Their relationship is very important to them."
This is obviously hypnotic language, partly because it uses words such as 'relationship'. Hypnotists secretly know there are no such things as relationships, nor importance, outside of our monkey brains.
Because a string of ambiguous language had involuntarily spewed from my mouth, I added, "Ehhh... I meant..." and then repeated the exact same message in the exact same monotone and measured way as before.
Now, if this had happened to you, completely unexpectedly, how do you think you would have reacted?
Bewilderment that such surreality has just happened, to you, in real life? Concern that you don't know why you've just recited a vacuous and socially awkward string of words in a noticeably unnatural tone of voice -- for the second time?
Mine was the typical reaction for when I don't want to be bothered with surreal happenings: Changing the subject as though nothing at all strange has happened. What white rabbit? I didn't see anything.
But, of course, I had seen it, and if you are puzzled by this reaction, please understand that during tough times (when my frontal lobes are in hibernation), I am not always in the mood for social awkwardness, even the surreal type.
Being a world-class hypnotist, D.H. later worked out what had happened, and phoned to tell me. I agreed, recounting my memories of the other hypnotist using a pattern interrupt and an anchor, although I don't really expect you to know what those terms mean, nor much else about hypnosis.
Well, you know how your brain melts when you try to imagine it making decisions six seconds before you are aware of them? Hypnosis is a process whereby you can use that incomprehensible pre-voluntary window to enter your own alleged decisions directly into someone else's mind.
This can go on until the hypnotee's imagination has expanded into a vivid, waking dream of events where ideas and sensory data can be added, removed, and changed. It is essentially a way to tap into someone else's operating assumptions system and fiddle with their maps of the world.
Even more astonishingly, as long as you remember not to address that person's voluntary, critical factors, you can simply change some of their assumptions, experiences and memories.
This can cause such jarring disruptions to one's sense of self as believing that one's own name is Jenny Camelhumper III, or believing that one picked the three of clubs via their own free and fair choice when in fact the hypnotist was behind the trick all along. Yes, really.
Hypnosis really is an ingenious way of ruining a person's life, and some crooked "mental health professionals" have been using it in this way for decades: Just think of all the "recovered memories" of abuse by parents -- and extraterrestrials -- that never happened but were implanted by unscientific techniques.
Of course, instead of ruining people's lives, you can also use hypnosis to implant the idea that they are the greatest river-dancer of all time and embarrass them greatly in front of their friends.
It works like this:
The faster your brain-waves go, the more you are locked in the present moment, or in other words, associated. The slower they go, the more dissociated you are, meaning that you can watch yourself do an automatic behavior without having to really think about it.
As you may know, the more strongly one is dissociated, the more suggestible one is -- an important point to remember in times of dissociation.
Upon waking up in the morning, your brain is set at theta waves of relaxed and zen-like awareness. At a time when you are in the single-minded pursuit of some goal, such as figuring out when and where your connecting flight departs, your brain may speed up to beta waves of laser-like focus.
These fluctuations in your internal headspace, which depend on whether you're jogging, reading, or telling someone about your latest gig, can be colloquially referred to as "trances". At least, some hypnotists call them that, since most of them are not properly described as separate states of consciousness.
The job of the hypnotist is to draw your focus and slow your brain waves via any of a wide variety of hypnotic inductions. These generally consist of misdirection along with overloading the person's working memory, which as you'll know can only hold about seven items of information.
Quickly loading a rapid succession of items into your working memory will tend to cause a brief state of confusion, thus opening a dissociative window of opportunity. Through this window, the hypnotist can then pour information more directly into your imagination.
When these imaginative processes become sufficiently dissociated from your voluntary mind, they become, well, involuntary. In other words, automatic -- which can be quite startling as in the cockblocking carrier pigeon incident.
Let's say that you are imagining that you can see a vermillion giraffe browsing from a nearby oak tree. The next step is to imagine this process becoming effortlessly automatic, and so the heavy lifting of imagination is transferred to involuntary visualizing processes.
When this happens, a very tall and brilliantly-colored artiodactyl appears in your field of vision and your mouth opens in amazement as you look even more closely at it. It appears as though it is really there, even though you know it can't be.
In other words, you can induce a sort of waking dream, which can be directed in all sorts of neat ways. You may recall Matt Baxter's use of hypnosis to convince a man that he cast real demons out of him, although in a less obnoxious way than Bob Rivers would have.
Reinforcing a subject's anthropologically-interesting views, even if it results in the belief that you're an exorcist, is a rather Trekkian sort of idea, isn't it?
It's as though you've beamed down to help some more primitive society and yet you can't let them know that you are deceiving them with your powers (nor that Bob Rivers is doing the same thing to them) because you must follow some kind of Therapeutic Prime Directive.
Remember: Any sufficiently advanced hypnosis can seem like magic to the average person.
Not to outdo him, I may actually work up the confidence to attempt a reverse-hallucination wherein I render myself "invisible" and then get up to poltergeist-like mischief.
To the subject, this seems as though the hypnotist is not even in the room -- and so why is there a glass floating through the air, and where is that demented laughter coming from?
Can you imagine the utter DOOM of that?! >:-D Muahahaha!
Interestingly, the reason that people experience sensory disabilities from conversion disorder is because of their minds' own ability to reverse-hallucinate (or dissociate) their senses. In my case, I experienced partial numbness, which turns out to be a common hypnotic suggestion both in the worlds of therapeutic and street hypnosis.
A street hypnotist might hypnotize someone to not be able to feel his or her own arm as a clever way to steal the person's watch without them knowing. An even more clever way of using hypno-anesthesia is on people who are actually having surgery, in order to avoid giving them local and/or general anesthesia.
Some hospitals and dental clinics have hypno-anesthetists on staff, and patients apparently find the experience relaxing and pleasant. Which is, of course, exactly how the hypnotist tells them they are feeling while their skull is being drilled into.
Having developed the conversion disorder after being physically restrained and forced to arbitrarily undergo spurious general anesthesia while having my own skull drilled into (which led to serious abuse and medical neglect at a mental hospital, etc.) you may imagine that I am quite enthusiastic about using a wakeful, not to mention pleasant method of pain control.
It's rather stunning to think that hypnosis can be a 100% effective painkiller BECAUSE it is the ultimate placebo effect. There's not even any risk of side-effects unless the hypnotist were to suggest some.
Think about that -- what form of "alternative medicine" can offer a suggestion that powerful, and be honest about how it works instead of resorting to such metaphysical concepts as "energy fields"?
At the other end of the spectrum, chemically inducing a coma (also known as general anesthesia) is somewhat harmful to the brain, and shuts down the immune system. Many people do not recover from its effects very well, or at all, and some people are denied surgery on the basis that such drugs would kill them.
I'd guess this is because not many surgeons are aware of hypno-anesthesia, much less work at hospitals that actually have hypno-anesthesists on hand. (Interestingly, a psychologist I once went to said that he did this once for bowel obstruction surgery because he was the only person at the VA hospital who knew hypnosis when they discovered that the patient was allergic to the anesthesia.)
I'd also guess that there are far more homeopaths working in hospitals than hypno-anesthetists -- a disturbing thought indeed! This is especially outrageous because the homeopaths don't seem to have developed a placebo anesthetic at all, much less a very good one.
Even so, it's hard to believe that doctors bother so much with dangerous and addictive drugs since simple words and thoughts can often do most of the heavy lifting for dissociating the pain from our conscious experience.
This ability is so simple that I discovered how to do this as a child -- also a time when I was dealing with serious abuse and medical neglect. Let's just say, I had many unfortunate opportunities to use it on myself, to astonishing effect.
Since it seemed that I actually had the ability to shoot painkilling electricity from my hands -- and which has long been termed the "glove anesthesia" technique by hypnotists -- perhaps you can forgive me for believing that I had paranormal powers.
Embarrassingly for me, it turned out that wasn't the case, but for some reason it took me this long to learn how to further develop this painkilling effect without believing in newage gobbeltygook.
In fact, the last time I was stabbing my face thousands of times with a Derma-Roller, I winced at the searing pain, almost expecting blood. Then, snapping my fingers, I thought fast; "Wait a second, what pain?" Snap! "Where did that pain go?"
That was a really useful trick, as stabbing my head and torso thousands of times with 1.5 mm needles was rather worthwhile for me. The needles instantly lifted my face, as well as everything else -- my nipples weren't quite sure how to react until I got up the courage to stab them as well. :-P
I needn't have been reluctant, since none of that hurt a bit, yet it was so simple to execute! By the time TAM rolls around, I should be able to show other people a lot more than just how to dissociate pain or touch. Cool, no?
If you're still reading this, I'll assume that you are also interested in learning such hypno-abilities, unless you think that I'm just another deranged fan of yours and oh, what is with some of your listeners and their long and rambling emails, and could I really demonstrate amazing hypnotic phenomena to you?
The amount I can show you largely depends on how confident I'm feeling, and at the moment I am feeling confident enough to convey more information through text that can help you right now.
Just as there are singing and acting exercises, I can think of a simple, improv-type hypnosis exercise that helps to increase one's spontenaeity in the moment:
Simply point at various objects/creatures around the room and call them by their improper names, such as "magnetar" and "babirusa" and "pamplemousse".
It may take you a little bit to really get into the groove of this exercise, the point of which is to help shift associations and connections in your brain, as well as to be in the right headspace for doing just that. So, give it a try.
No, really, do it right now, for thirty seconds or so. I'll wait. :-)
Was that fun? Did you observe anything interesting, at least about how you view your apartment?
There are of course other ways in which hypnosis-related tools can expand your conceptual boundaries, and help to quicken and direct your personal and creative growth. One is paying close attention to how language and assumptions shape your experience of reality.
You may recall my discussion of frames from the last email, and of the importance of remembering that the map in your head is not the territory: When you learn a little more about something, especially if that something surprises you, that changes the meaning of what you already knew, or re-frames it.
Think of the last time you felt trapped in a tough situation, but then learned something that changed your perspective and helped you find the way out. (Or at least, would have if you had known at the time!) It wasn't the situation that was trapping you, so much as you had merely failed to notice that you weren't stuck after all.
Hypnotherapy -- at least any hypnotherapy worth going to -- involves identifying a person's limiting beliefs, finding a way around them, and then suggesting that way around them deeply into the person's involuntary processes.
In other words, it involves updating the person's conceptual map in such a way that it affects their behavior. First this is done intellectually and voluntarily, and then this update is written directly into the person's involuntary programming.
Unlike the suggestion that you are a pigeon, or that thick wire stitches piercing your flesh feels rather wonderful, hypno-therapeutic suggestions are meant to become permanently ingrained in one's operating assumptions system.
The reason is often because these new suggestions are made to replace old patterns, forever -- although they may need a reinforcement session or two in order to make them stick. Here's a good point to bring up the door that you could push open for twenty years until it suddenly became a rigid surface perfect for slamming into.
You were quick to consciously grasp that you would have to reach for the handle, and yet for weeks you found it difficult to remember this until it was too late. That's because the "getting out of your car" trance kept pulling you out of your voluntary awareness of the doorknob, even though you swore you would remember this time.
But of course you can remember, so why does it seem so hard to pull oneself out of one's long-ingrained habits? Think about it: This difficulty applies in spades to people who smoke too many cigarettes and then claim that they can't stop.
This is absurd on its face. Can't quit cigarettes? How is that? Who is forcing them to continue smoking these awful things? The mafia?
These people are in such an automatic trance of habit that they find it at odds to what they say they want, so they solve this cognitive dissonance by rationalizing why they can't stop.
This invariably has to do with cigarettes being an integral part of their lifestyle rather than a physical inability to stop themselves from going to the store, exchanging money for, lighting, and inhaling sticks of death.
In both cases, the only thing that makes it seem as though one can't overpower some habit is because it is so closely bound up to other involuntary habits that normally propel one along one's daily routine.
When you try to consciously stop an involuntary habit, from the top down, it can be so deeply programmed that it seems impossible to change quickly. That's because your voluntary mind is fighting against those involuntary habits.
But, when you change the programming through hypnosis, from the bottom up, you may completely lose the desire to continue smacking into the door altogether, and even reach for the knob without needing to think about it. It's as though you didn't even have to try.
For this reason, many smoking cessation clients claim that the hypnotherapy session had no connection whatsoever to their subsequent lack of desire for tobacco. Their cognitive dissonance-solving explanation is that although prior to the session they felt that they could not quit, after the session they suddenly decided to quit because they felt like it, for no particular reason.
Once your excuses for doing something or not doing something appear silly to you, it is much easier to use hypnosis to disconnect the habits that slow you down from the habits that keep you moving towards your goals.
Certainly you can think of something in your life which you may at least dimly realize is a frame that confines you to a more limited existence. What assumptions of yours could use challenging?
There may be more than a few doorways in your life that you have never even considered going through because of any trances/frames/irrational fears that are ruling your mind without your knowledge or consent. How dare they!
The important part is that you know how to laugh at yourself as well as whatever you are struggling with. That is one thing you're good at, and one way that's sure to help you through whatever you find.
What if you could be significantly much more awesome than you currently appear to be? Most people don't live up that far to their potential, and you, unlike most people, have been working very hard to pull yourself to a position somewhere apart from them.
You are succeeding fairly well as a musician, the emcee at TAM, soon-to-be producer of your seventh album, etc. It sounds as though you've done much to get where you are, although you don't quite seem to recognize that spark which only some artists get to find out about.
This is the spark which allows them to reach into the cavernous hyperspace of their minds and assemble an opus so wonderful and out of the ordinary that it elicits both amazement and horror from the general public.
For a while, the more conservative folk consider the piece to be a sign of the apocalypse and condemn it from the rooftops. Strangely, all this hot air clouding up the airwaves will clarify to the younger generation that this work is "true art" to be preserved in a museum for all time.
The trick is to make your own definition of "true art" and then color in the outline. The younger generation will buy into it, as you probably know.
It seems to me that you're just touching the edges of how to do that, yet you don't quite know how to break all the way through. Your perfectly poignant observations and original thoughts can be further distilled and enhanced into new material, you just need some catalyst to set off the spark.
The way I see it, the mind is like an enormous processor that creates a self, which is what prevents you from realizing that you are basically a self-aware zombie that is easily controlled by your surroundings and other people.
We are all being hypnotized by the world around us -- that's why hypnosis is so deceptively simple. Those who know how the workings of our mental shortcuts that leave us open to error can effectively hack into our heads without us necessarily realizing it.
Chilling stuff, eh?
So, imagine my shock to hear that you've never thought much about how one's surroundings affect you. It is no wonder that you seem to me like a fish that may see the water around it as it's being swept along a current, but doesn't entirely see what is happening.
Maybe that's because you've never had a chance to step back and take a look at your life from certain perspectives far outside your own comfortable frames. It seems to be a rather good life -- especially with another trip to Australia coming up -- although rather unchanging in other ways, right?
According to what you said in episode 361, you have no strong sense of transition over the years, and no real change of habits, including things which bring you pleasure. So, perhaps it's time to find more ways of having fun and creating new eras of greatness in your life?
I've always noticed your marked centeredness and contentment in life, which probably has something to do with your extremely stable life conditions. It may be the norm for you, but since it is not so common for me, I don't look at it in the same way:
To me, stability tends to be a fleeting rest period during which I spend connecting data points that had seemed impossible at times when my frontal lobes were being continually trampled by stress and sleep deprivation.
In other words, it is my very glad opportunity to stop and think about how best to adapt to my environment as it begins to shift once more.
Although I have been able to bounce back from every single disaster, stronger than ever, I've found that a life dominated by emotional unpleasantness to be atrociously damaging to one's brain.
Despite this damage and abnormal development, a lot of creative inspiration has come from the horror as well, paradoxical as it may seem.
Indeed, brief chaotic periods in life can come in handy when one is trying to break oneself out of one's normal perspective and habits/frames/schemas/reality tunnels. The trick is to get the right stimuli in the right processing tracts of your mind so that it can have a positive influence, even if the chaos is not all so pleasant.
At very least, I suggest that you consider having more life-changing experiences, perhaps several times a year. You have quite a bit of character already, but there is probably much more to be dredged from that melon of yours.
As a person, your self is a creative process, through which you weave a narrative of your own life. This ability is related to your capacity to create artistically, so growing as a person can help the next song or sketch to be especially good at capturing people's imaginations.
Fortunately, you do seem to crave the sort of input that would help stir the recursive, recombinatorial bits of information that help to keep you sane, awake, spontaneous, and continuing to spin meaningful patterns.
Only you know what to feed to your brain, as I'm not there to ask you, so I'll leave you to analyze your own psyche and to decide whether or not all these small paragraphs of hypno-babble are making sense to you.
Just remember; you can't so easily navigate the vast creative space inside of your head when there are many fences crisscrossing it. And, if you do manage to broaden your mind hugely enough, you may find that your audience will broaden as well.
Even moving your furniture around your living space helps to re-map your mental space, as does re-arranging things on a smaller scale. What else can you change in your life? If you're not sure, you can probably contact the part of you that does know via some sort of Ouija board/pendulum/dowsing rod.
You probably never even thought of doing that, have you? And this despite the fact that you know that these objects are a good way to communicate with your own idiomotor responses rather than spirits, right?
As for hypnotizing yourself, it helps to start with a form of meditation. In order to dissociate, you can focus your eyes ahead on a spot on the wall, but pay attention to the room around you, even though you can't see it all.
You may know that such a trance makes it easier to find the "inner you" buried under the programming that society lays down upon us all.
That might be a fine place to start looking for the "true art" within you, whatever that means. If that's not your goal, then fine -- but as long as you're dreaming, why not dream big? There's no sense in living the thimble reality dream, is there? You only have one chance.