Hypnosis & Perception
This article is going to be a bit scientific, that’s why I created a graphic for you. We’re going to learn how perception works physiologically and what that means to our “reality”. Maybe you wondered why hypnosis can make people behave strangely, acting like chicken, or make them see things that aren’t really there.
There actually is a scientific explanation for that. Neurophysiologists studied how our brain and nerves function. And they found that there are lots of nerve bundles between our sensory organs and our brain that transport a lot of information.
That is no surprise – after all, somehow what we see, hear, taste, smell and feel somehow has to go from our eyes, ears, tongue, nose and skin to our brain, right? So then, we probably need nerves that transport signals from the sensory organs to the brain.
And here’s where the surprise kicks in. Because in fact, for every 1 nerve bundle that leads from our sensory organs to our brain, there are 10 nerve bundles that lead from the brain to the sensory organ.
What does that mean? It means our brain can make our eyes “see” stuff that isn’t there. It means that our brain can make our ears hear sounds that don’t exist. It means that our brain can make our tongue taste foods that aren’t there. It means that our brain can make our nose smell scents that aren’t real.
This is what scientists call “top down processing” – from the brain to the senses, not the other way around.
Just take a quick look at that graphic, which makes it pretty clear (click on the image to see a larger version)
This is pretty amazing stuff. It means that if you give people the right suggestions, you can actually change how their brains function.
I did lots of experimenting with hypnosis in my early days, and we were doing things like “making people colorblind”, creating “hypnotic magnifying glasses” and making people forget their native language, or “speaking Marsian”.
This research now shows the physiological mechanisms behind this stuff and why and how it worked.
- New York Times: “This Is Your Brain Under Hypnosis”