This document on hypnosis exists in conjunction with a group of webpages
clustered around an on-line project to create a robot artificial intelligence
in accordance with a theory of mind described at
The conjectures on hypnosis presented below are add-on speculation and
are not contained in any of the five theory documents linked to above.
Hypnosis fits into the PD AI theory of mind in the following speculative way.
In a dream , a mind is ensconced within an isolated brain and has
shut down the input sensorium of strong sensations from the external world.
A dream is an associative vortex of memories being reactivated during sleep
and coagulating briefly into a novel experience which is itself recorded
as an episode in the stream of consciousness -- whether or not the waking mind
still has access to the memory of the dream after the sleeping mind awakens.
Since the dreaming mind is dealing with its own ideas and not with the external
sensations which are not always credible and trustworthy, the dreamer
automatically believes the dream and treats the events in the dream as real --
unless the dreamer is an adept at lucid dreaming and has developed
the power of knowing that a dream is in progress, without waking up.
Normally, however, we accept everything told to us in a dream because we are
the one telling it to us. To our dreaming selves, we are the ultimate authority.
In hypnosis, however, we manage to fall asleep (or into a trance) without
shutting down the pathway of the input sensorium of strong external sensations.
We are experiencing a dream-like trance and we give up our sense of discretion
and trust to what we take to be our own sacred and trustworthy consciousness
but what is on the contrary another mind alien to our own: the mesmerizing hypnotist.
If the hypnotist tells us that an umbrella or loaf of bread is a kitten,
we conjure up from memory all the attributes of a kitten and we perceive the kitten
because a seemingly trustworthy and ultimate authority has told us to.
Since the dream-like trance is normally made up of memories being re-activated
anyway, we let the verbal suggestions of the hypnotist override the sensations
from an external world that we normally exclude from our dreams during sleep.
Our dreams and trances are not centered around external events but around
the associative vortex which is assembling old memories into a novel experience.
The hypnotist has snuck in, so to speak, to our own center of control
of our semi-conscious processes and has begun to give orders as if we ourselves gave them.
Perhaps in the trance posing as a dream we think that we are deciding to
quit smoking after years of inhaling cigarette smoke, or perhaps we have
decided to remember some obscure detail of forensic information needed in a courtroom.
For whatever reason, the hypnotist has achieved the proverbial Vulcan mindmeld
with our non-waking consciousness and has become the proverbial homunculus.
Logic dictates that we are in a dream where we normally believe everything that
occurs and that therefore we will believe whatever is suggested to us
by the hypnotist.
Last updated: 8 November 2001
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