The rumination on hypnotism keeps on giving. The other day I started to work on a typology that aims to point out various ways one is hypnotised or hypnotising. To each type I assigned hypnotism sensitivity level which determines the awareness of the hypnotised state, degree of the condition and possibility to use hypnosis productively. I got really playful with this notion and would like to dedicate some time to this topic. I feel there is a potential to create a solid structure for some thoughts I was accumulating for a while. Simulated thinking, bullshitting and conditioning, indoctrination and self-deception seem to connect through using our ability to get into hypnotic state when the right methods are used.
But what is hypnotism in the first place and why is it important to be aware of its effect on our individual and collective state? We can talk about hypnotism and hypnosis. The former is the art of inducing hypnosis and the latter is an artificial, trancelike state in which a person can be prone to suggestion. It is important that hypnosis is an artificial state and always comes from either external or internal need. I look at it as an additional layer, a membrane that separates our experiences form what is real. This membrane has various functions and effect on us. Some of them are helpful, they can be protective, regulating mechanisms to make sure we can co-exist and connect to each other. Others have more negative effect, we can fall under the influence of hypnotism that wants to benefits or misuse us. The lack of awareness and involuntariness of our actions under hypnotism makes it not easy to detect. How do we know what comes from our volition and what is being suggested.
One can even argue what would the point in knowing it be? Yes, we are constantly under different spells that want us to behave in certain ways, so what? There is no such a thing as free will, so raising awareness about hypnotism and its intentions doesn’t change much on individual level. I think that it is impossible to break free of hypnotism, there is always something that affects us outside our conscious awareness. Implicit learning is a big part of out learning process, without it we wouldn’t be able to orient in the world, pay attention to everything and constantly make conscious decisions is just too much to process. Being able to use our unconscious mind to navigate is enabling our navigation in the first place. What I am proposing, though, is to become aware of hypnotism and the intentions behind it. If we would develop a skill to detect hypnotism and instead of just giving in to whatever wants to take us, we could direct our attention and build a hypnotism chamber for ourselves. We are in charge of moving around our focus and directing it towards different things. We can decide where to look and what to pay attention to. I’d like to note, that It doesn’t contradict my earlier statement about free will, we can do what we decide to do but we can’t decide what we will decide to do. If you are interested to go in more detail about the concept of free will, I recommend a book by Sam Harris, which provides a good analysis of this construct, virtuously arguing that there is no such thing as a free will.
I propose to develop a faculty of understanding that there is a deeper underlying code, the underlying operating system of our own mind, hypnosis is one of the access points into the code that's beneath the conscious mind into the subconscious mind, as Tristan Harris puts it. I am very attracted to the possibility to gain more awareness about these access points and see if I can make my own constellation out of them. These points are the touch-points of our connection with the inner and outer world. The salience landscape we are building is an interface to arrange these points and create a map in pursuit of meaning, gaining control over our lives. But before we can engage with mapmaking, we need to free up some space around us and get rid of some hypnotisms. I distinguish hypnotisms of different order - the most basic one is that uses our primal urges to attract attention. Advertisement and branding being the most common example. I am undergoing an experiment, eliminating the presence of any type of branding around me and so far it is possible, for the last week or so. I must admit, the results are magical. This small change revealed the magnitude of the effect commercially-driven hypnotism has on our mental space. I’ll be experimenting more with these small tweaks to see if I can engage in creative collaboration with hypnotism so we can build me together and make my surrender work for me. Knowing that we are in control, paradoxically facilitates the ability to let go.