Saturday, January 2, 2021

Prevailing Brain Dogmas Cannot Explain Hypnotic Phenomena

Most of the main normal mental phenomena of humans cannot be explained by prevailing dogmas that everything mental is caused by the brain. Humans can form new memories instantly. If suddenly someone sticks a gun in your mouth, you will instantly form a permanent new memory.  Neuroscientist attempts to explain memory formation (through vague crude ideas such as "synapse strengthening") fail miserably when we consider facts such as the short lifetimes of synapse proteins (only a few weeks), and the fact that such a synapse strengthening would take too long to explain the instant formation of new memories.  Neuroscientists cannot explain how you can instantly recall a memory when asked a question, or how learned knowledge could ever be translated into neural states or synapse states.  Neuroscientists also cannot explain how a brain could possibly cause a person to be conscious, or to have a unified self.  Our professors of neuroscience are also utterly unable to explain such basic human phenomena as imagination and the creation of new ideas.  No one can give a coherent explanation as to how a single neuron or a billions could ever come up with a novel idea. 

Besides failing to credibly explain normal human mental phenomena,  we cannot credibly explain a large variety of abnormal human mental phenomena through theories that our minds come from our brains. For example, materialists are unable to credibly explain phenomena such as apparition sightings and near-death experiences. 

The theory that your brain makes your mind also cannot explain a wide variety of baffling phenomena that occur under hypnosis. Such phenomena have been observed for more than two hundred years. What the average person knows about strange occurrences during hypnotic trances is only a fraction of the baffling anomalies that have been historically documented. 

Let us look at some of the strange phenomena that have been well-documented as occurring during hypnotic trances.

Phenomenon #1: a failure to remember what happened under hypnosis, except when returning to a hypnotic trance, or when executing a post-hypnotic suggestion.  

First, let us look at a well-known aspect of hypnosis that is inexplicable under prevailing dogmas about the brain and mind.  I refer to the fact that a hypnotized person will be able to hear speech and respond to questions. But when he is awoken from a hypnotized person, that same person will typically be unable to remember anything that went on during the hypnotic trance.  But if that person is then put under hypnosis again, he will be able to remember what previously occurred during his hypnotic trance. 

Such a tendency is mentioned in an 1851 book on hypnotism (when it was then commonly called animal magnetism). The book by William Gregory MD stated this (using the word "sleeper" for a hypnotized person, and "sleep" for a hypnotic trance):

"As a general rule, but not a rule without some exceptions, the sleeper does not remember, after waking, what he may have seen, felt, tasted, smelled, heard, spoken, or done, during his sleep ; but when next put to sleep, he recollects perfectly all that has occurred, not only in the last sleep, but in all former sleeps, and, as in the ordinary state, with greater or less accuracy, although usually very accurately indeed."

Such a failure to remember  what occurred in the hypnotic state is all the more baffling when we consider that a person may be hypnotized and told to perform some simple action after a certain interval, and then woke up from the hypnotic state. The person may then perform such a post-hypnotic suggestion after the interval passed.  So it is as if there is no memory of the post-hypnotic suggestion in conscious memory, but there is memory of the post-hypnotic suggestion in some subconscious memory, that then affects conscious actions after a certain interval passes. I will discusse below some specific examples of this. 
 
Phenomenon #2: an insensitivity to pain during a hypnotic trance. 

It was documented by many nineteenth century writers that under hypnosis a person could lose all sensitivity to pain. For example, in a 19th-century work, we read of a woman in 1829 who had her breast removed to treat cancer. The woman had no anaesthesia, but was merely hypnotized. The account says the woman "did not betray the least symptoms of pain...she talked tranquilly, during the whole time." Pages 65-67 of the same work describes another similar case of a younger hypnotized woman in 1854 who showed no signs of pain as her breast was surgically removed, as she smiled through the surgery. 

Using the word "somnambulists" to refer to those hypnotized, an 1831 report by a committee of French medical authorities, under the auspices of the Royal Academy of Medicine, stated the following:

"The greater number of the somnambulists whom we have seen, were completely insensible. We might tickle their feet, their nostrils, and the angle of the eyes, with a feather—we might pinch their skin, so as to leave a mark, prick them with pins under the nails, &c. without producing any pain, without even their perceiving it. Finally, we saw one who was insensible to one of the most painful operations in surgery, and who did not manifest the slightest emotion in her countenance, her pulse, or her respiration."

The author of one work tells us of his personal observations on this topic, using "mesmeric" to mean "hypnotic":

"In the first experiment I ever tried to assure myself of the reality of mesmeric anathsesia, a young woman was put to sleep and eight bad teeth were extracted from her ulcerated gums without her having any consciousness of it. But her inner consciousness being at the same time aroused, she was able to tell me the time by a clock in a house eight miles away, as I verified the next day by comparison with my watch."

The report above combines two inexplicable aspects of a hypnotic trance, an insensitivity to pain, and also clairvoyance during a hypnotized state, which is abundantly attested to in other reports discussed here and here and here

On pages 27-28 of a book by Dr. James Esdaile he lists a host of dramatic painless surgeries he performed without using anesthesia, but only hypnosis on patients. The list includes about 20 amputations, and 200 removals of scrotal tumors ranging from 10 pounds in weight to more than 100 pounds in weight. Another book on this topic by Esdaile can be read here

In the following quote from a nineteenth century work, we learn of a great irony: that physicians took up a chemical method of anesthesia, one which would often kill people, rather than using hypnotic methods of anesthesia that were proving very safe and effective:

"In Dr. Brown Sequard's lectures upon 'Nervous Force,' delivered in Boston in 1874, he speaks of this form of anaesthesia as follows : 

'As regards the power of producing anaesthesia, it seems to me unfortunate that the discovery of ether was made just when it was. It was, as you well know, in 1846 or 1847 that the use of ether as an anaesthetic was begun. It started from this city (Boston). At that time in England, Dr. Forbes was trying to show from facts observed in England, and especially in India, from the practice of Dr. Esdaile, that something which was called Mesmerism, but which, after all, was nothing but a peculiar state of somnambulism induced in patients, gave to them the idea that they were deprived of feeling ; so that they were in reality under the influence of their imagination, and operations were performed that were quite painless. I say that it was a pity that ether was introduced just then, as it prevented the progress of our knowledge as to this method of producing anaesthesia. My friend Dr. Broca took it up in 1857-8 and pushed it very far; and for a time it was the fashion in Paris to have amputations performed after having been anaesthetized by the influence of Braidism or Hypnotism. A great many operations were performed in that way that were quite painless. But it was a process that was long and tedious, and surgeons were in a hurry and gave it up. I regret it very much, as there has never been a case of death from that method of producing anesthesia, while you well know that a great many cases of death have been produced by other methods.' "

A modern paper reports a similar result: hypnosis producing dramatic reduction in headache pains. We read this:

"Symptoms of headache and vertigo were treated using direct hypnotic suggestions of symptom relief in 155 consecutive skull injured patients. Posttraumatic headache and vertigo were completely relieved after an average observation period of 1 year 10 months in 50% and 58% of the patients, and partially relieved in 20% and 16% respectively."

The difference here is that this pain reduction comes after the patient leaves the hypnotized state. 

Phenomenon #3: an insensitivity to sound during a hypnotic trance. 

It was documented by many nineteenth century writers that under hypnosis a person could lose all sensitivity to sound.  A nineteenth century work says this about hypnotized patients, using the word "magnetizer" for a hypnotist and "somnambule"  for the hypnotized person:

"Sensitiveness is entirely abolished. The patient hears only the voice of the magnetizer and that of the person whom the latter places en rapport with him. His deafness is absolute for all noises that occur, of whatsoever intensity. In an experiment made at Paris, a sceptic fired a pistol near the ear of a somnambule. The latter heard nothing. The insensibility is not less complete in other parts of the body. We may bury needles in the flesh without the patient feeling the least pain. He suffers only when he awakes. The most painful surgical operations have been performed on magnetized subjects, and they had only learned what had happened after they had come out of their sleep."

Phenomenon #4: clairvoyance and ESP during a hypnotic trance. 

It was documented by many nineteenth century writers and authorities that under hypnosis a person could show paranormal powers of clairvoyance or telepathy.  In the long posts here and here and here  and here I discuss some of the abundant observational evidence for such a thing.  I may note that the reality of clairvoyance under hypnosis was firmly declared by a high-prestige French academic committee, a six-year investigation of the Royal Academy of Medicine that issued its report in 1831. 

During the nineteenth century hynotized people were often asked to engage in a kind of thought sharing or "mind meld" with another person, a state that was called being en rapport with that person. A nineteenth century work on hypnotism gives this summary, using the word "sleeper" for a hypnotized person: 

"Thought reading presents itself in every possible variety of form. The sleeper, being placed en rapport with any person, can often describe, with the greatest accuracy, the subject that occupies the thoughts of that person. It may be an absent friend, or his own house, or that of another, or his drawing-room, bed-room, study, &c. &c. All these things the sleeper perceives, as they pass through the mind of the experimenter, and describes with great minuteness and accuracy, so as to excite our astonishment. Or he goes further ; he not only perceives the present, but the past thoughts of the person en rapport with him ; he shares his memory. Thus he will mention facts, no longer so existing, but remembered by the experimenter. Nay, he goes still further even than this ; for he perceives things once known to, and now forgotten by, the experimenter, who very often contradicts the sleeper, and persists in maintaining his own opinion, until, on further enquiry, he not only finds him to be right, but himself is enabled to recal the fact, which had, as we say, escaped his memory."

Many specific case examples of such a thing can be found in the three posts mentioned above (the posts here and here  and here).  A nineteenth century work Letters to a Candid Inquirer, on Animal Magnetism by William Gregory gives some very specific numerical details relating to clairvoyance in hypnotic trances (referred to below as "mesmeric sleep"):

"Major Buckley has thus produced conscious clairvoyance in 89 persons, of whom 44 have been able to read mottoes contained in nut-shells, purchased by other parties for the experiment. The longest motto thus read, contained 98 words. Many subjects will read motto after motto without one mistake. In this way, the mottoes contained in 4860 nut-shells have been read, some of them, indeed, by persons in the mesmeric sleep, but most of them by persons in the conscious state, many of whom have never been put to sleep. In boxes, upwards of 86,000 words have been read; 'in one paper, 371 words. Including those who have read words contained in boxes when in the sleep, 148 persons have thus read. It is to be observed that, in a few cases, the words may have been read by thought-reading, as the persons who put them in the boxes were present; but in most cases, no one who knew the words has been present, and they must therefore have been read by direct clairvoyance. Every j)recaution has been taken. The nuts, inclosing mottoes, for example, have been purchased of 40 different confectioners, and have been sealed up until read. It may be added, that of the 44 persons who have read mottoes in nuts by waking or conscious clairvoyance, 42 belong to the higher class of society; and the experiments have been 
made in the presence of many other persons. These experiments appear to me admirably contrived, and I can per- ceive no reason whatever to doubt the entire accuracy of the facts."

Later in the same work we read many detailed descriptions of clairvoyance under hypnosis, one of which is the account below (which uses the "magnetic sleep" to refer to a hypnotic trance):

 "E., in the magnetic sleep, as I saw more than once, could see perfectly what passed behind her, 
her eyes being closed ; or any thing placed in such a position, that, had her eyes been open, she could not have seen it ; she could also see very often all that passed outside of the door, and when I was there, told us how many of the servants of the hotel were listening at the door, in hopes of 
hearing wonders ; she would also often tell what was doing in the room above or below her. In short, she frequently exhibited direct clairvoyance in every form, not only in those just mentioned, but also in that of seeing prints or pictures shut up in boxes. Besides seeing various instances 
of direct clairvoyance, I was able to satisfy myself that Dr. Haddock's experiments were made with the greatest care and judgment ; that he was particularly well acquainted with the various causes of error and confusion, very careful to avoid these, and that in short his accounts of such experiments as I had not seen were entirely trustworthy."

On page 334 in the same work, we read this account of clairvoyance under hypnotism:

"We requested her to visit the house of Mrs. P., one of the ladies present. This house was in 
Greenock, distant from my cottage about a mile and a quarter. She saw her servant in the kitchen, but said that another woman was with her. On being pressed to look earnestly at the woman, she said it was C_____ M______. This, Mrs. P. declared to be true. We then asked her to see if any person was in Mrs. P.'s parlor, when she said that Miss Laing was there, a young lady from Edinburgh, who 
was boarding with Mrs. P. at the time ; that she was sitting on the sofa ; that she was crying, and that a letter was in her hand. On the party breaking up, I walked into Greenock with the ladies and gentlemen, in order to see if she was right about Miss L. It was true. Miss L. had received a letter by that evening's post from her father in Edinburgh, stating that her mother was not expected to live, and requesting her to come home by the first train in the morning." 

Although living mind researchers have usually displayed an appalling failure to research the topic of clairvoyance under hypnosis that was so well-documented in the nineteenth century, we occasionally get evidence of it even in recent years. A 2020 paper found that hypnosis increased success in remote viewing efforts, remote viewing being essentially a synonym for clairvoyance. Using RV for a non-hypotic "remote viewing" attempts, and OB-RV for a hypnotically aided "remote viewing" attempts, in which subjects were encouraged to mentally travel out of their bodies,  the paper states the following:

"The purpose of this study was to compare the ability to identify and describe physical targets, from a distance, in the RV and OB-RV states of consciousness.The results clearly demonstrate that in both conditions, the amount of correct information is clearly greater than wrong information, with a difference of around 20%. The only difference in performance between the two is in the number of correct information, which is slightly greater in the OB-RV condition."

The author Joseph Haddock reported that after hypnotizing a subject, the subject would respond to any pain inflicted on Joseph, just as if the hypnotized person had felt the pain: "I have got individuals to tread on my toes, pull my hair, or pinch different parts of the body ; and I invariably found that, with this subject, not many seconds would elapse before she would complain of exactly similar treatment, and refer the pain to the exact corresponding part; and sometimes I have experienced considerable difficulty in dispelling the illusion." 

An effect totally inexplicable under materialist assumptions is what is called "community of sensations" under hypnosis. It has been very frequently reported that a hypnotized person may instantly feel sensations felt by the person who hypnotized him. A set of experiments on this effect is reported in the "First Report of the Committee on Mesmerism" pages 225-229 of Volume 1 of the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research (April, 1883), a committee including the illustrious names of Frederic Myers,  Edmund Gurney, Frank Podmore, George Wyld M.D. and the eventually knighted physicist W.F. Barrett.  We read this on page 226: "Thus out of a total of 24 experiments in transference of pains, the exact spot.was correctly indicated by the subject no less than 20 times."  These were experiments in which the hypnotized subject was asked whether he felt anything, after the hypnotizer had been given some type of pain or sensation while in another room where the hypnotized person could not see him.  Similar results were obtained by Dr. Edmund Gurney and reported in his paper "An Account of Some Experiments in Mesmerism," published on page 201 of Volume II of the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research ( June 1884). As reported on page 205, a hypnotized subject identified with high accuracy many tactile and taste sensations occurring in a hypnotizer sitting behind him. 

Phenomenon #5: extreme suggestibility.

An astonishing aspect of hypnotism is that hypnotized people will seem to act or believe in various ridiculous ways, if the person hypnotizing them has suggested the action or belief. A nineteenth century work describes this aspect of hypnotism, describing some hypnotized subjects:

"When they drank water, and were told that it was milk, coffee, rum, whisky, or wormwood, they tasted it as such. Nay, after drinking it as whisky, they were told that they were drunk, and in a minute or two became, in every particular, very drunk indeed. The expression of the face was perfectly that of intoxication, and they could not walk a step without staggering or falling. They were easily made, by suggestion, to fancy themselves any other persons, and acted in character. They shot, fished, swam, lectured, and exhibited every feeling suggested to them. They were as easily made to suppose a stick to be a gun, a rod, a sword, nay, a serpent ; or a chair to be a tiger or a bear. From these animals they fled with extreme terror. They were made to see, hear, and feel a dreadful storm, and to creep for shelter under a table or a chair, supposed by them to be a house. From this, they were soon expelled 
by the serpent, or by the flood rising, when they swam lustily for their lives. This was the first time that either of them had been tried ; and the control exercised by Mr. Lewis over their sensations, erceptions, and emotions was perfect, although their consciousness was entire. They knew the suggested impressions to be false, but could not resist them. It was most interesting to watch closely their countenances, when an object, for example, a handkerchief, was placed in the hand, and, after they felt quite sure of what it was, they were told it was a rat, &c. The gradual change to doubt, from doubt to certainty, and from that to disgust or anger, was inimitable, and conveyed at once, to those near enough to see it, complete conviction of their sincerity."

Later in the same book we have an account of a person becoming extremely suggestible under hypnosis:

"His muscular motions were controlled in every possible way. He was rendered unable to raise his hands, or to let them fall ; he was made unable to move one, while he could move the other ; unable to sit down or to rise up ; or to take hold of, or let go an object. One arm was deprived of sensation, or both arms, or the whole frame. He was made to feel a knife burning hot, and the chair on which 
he sat equally so. When he started up, he was made to feel the floor so hot that he was compelled to hop about, and wished to pull off his boots, which burnt him. He was made to feel the room intolerably warm, and actually perspired with the heat ; after which he was made to feel it so cold, that in a minute or two he buttoned his coat, and walked about rubbing his hands. In about five minutes his hand was really chilled, as I found, like that of a person exposed to frost. He was made to forget his own name, as well as that of Col. Gore Browne, who was present, and to imagine Col. B. a total stranger. He was compelled, for a time, to give a false answer to every question asked ; and then was forced to give true answers to every question, in spite of any effort he might make to do otherwise. He was told he was on duty, at drill ; and began to give the word of command, as if in the barrack-yard. He was compelled to sing and whistle, in spite of himself; to laugh immoderately, and then to feel sad, and even to weep, all in spite of his own will. He was told that a stick was a gun, and with it, he shot and bagged a grouse, which he was made to see before him. He was told the piano-forte was a horse, and after feeling and closely examining it, he specified its points and defects, and appraised its value. He tasted water precisely as was suggested to him, as lemonade, tea, or wormwood. He was told that Dr. D.'s hand was a mirror, and in it he saw himself with a black face, as Dr. D. told him to do. He was made to look at his watch, and then convinced that it pointed to a different hour from the true one. He was then made to believe the watch to be a daguerreotype of Col. Browne, and again of a lady. Dr. D.'s empty hand became a snuff-box, from which he took a pinch, which made him sneeze violently, and this passed into a most severe cough, as if he had inhaled snuff, which sensation was not removed for 
about half-an-hour. He was made to go to sleep in one minute, and in his sleep to be deaf to the loudest sounds."

There follows in the book a description of quite a few cases of similar levels of suggestibility under hypnosis. 

Phenomenon #6: post-hypnotic suggestions. 

An astonishing aspect of hypnotism is that people in a hypnotic trance who have promised to do something or been instructed to do something will often do just such a thing, even if they have no memory of promising such a thing or being told to do such a thing when they were hypnotized.  A nineteenth century work describes this tendency, using the word "sleeper" for a hypnotized person:

"This leads me to another very curious phenomenon, namely, that the sleeper, if commanded, in the sleep, to do a certain thing, after waking, and at a certain hour, will do so, and however absurd or ridiculous the act, he cannot, in many cases, refrain from doing it, if he has promised it in 
the sleep."

Phenomenon #7: transposition of senses.

Another astonishing aspect of hypnotism is that people in a hypnotic trance sometimes reportedly have a kind of displacement of one or more of the senses.  For example, they may be able to see only things presented to some part of their body other than their eyes. A nineteenth century work describes this on page 148:

"I have not hitherto noticed, save in passing, a phenomenon which occasionally presents itself, but which is not by any means uniformly present in a marked form; I mean, transference of the senses to some special part of the body.... But it sometimes happens, that the power of seeing, not 
the ordinary sense of sight, but the clairvoyant power, is located in some special part. It has been observed to be located in the pit of the stomach, in the tips of the fingers, in the occiput as well as in the forehead, or on te top of the head, and in one case which I heard of from a scientific gentleman who tested it, in the soles of the feet. The books and journals which treat of Animal Magnetism teem with similar facts; and the head, hand, and epigastrium, seem to be the usually selected parts, probably from the proximity to the brain in the first, the great development of the nerves of touch in the second, and the presence of the great sympathetic plexus of nerves in the third. The fact itself is beyond all doubt, and it is quite unnecessary to accumulate cases. In one form or other, the power of dispensing with the eyes, and yet perceiving color, &c. quite plainly, is found in every good subject. The same thing frequently happens with hearing. Thus E.  when on her travelling state or stage, is utterly deaf to 
all sounds, save those which are addressed to her by speaking with the mouth in contact with the tips of her fingers. This fact I have myself verified. I believe she would not hear a pistol fired at her ear, in that state."

Phenomenon #8: astonishing time-keeping or time calculation abilities.

In the long Chapter 1 of  the 1922 book "Medical Psychology and Psychical Research" by T. W. Mitchell there is a long discussion of astonishing time-keeping abilities of hypnotized subjects. Mitchell performed many experiments in which a subject under hypnosis was told to perform a simple task (to draw a cross on a piece of paper) after a particular interval of time expired.  The subject would be brought out of the hypnotic state long before the interval expired.  

On page 12 Mitchell mentions an example of time-keeping seeming to occur with such post-hypnotic suggestions, starting with a January 3 post-hypnotic suggestion:

"On January 3rd, 1907, I made a similar suggestion to be fulfilled on 'the I45th day from this.'  On January 16th I asked her in hypnosis if she remembered what I told her on January 3rd. She said she did. ' How many days are gone ?'  '13.' ' How many to come ?'  ' 132.'  ' When does it fall due ?' 'May 28th.' All the answers are correct, and were given without any hesitation. On being asked the same questions on January 29th, she said that 26 days had passed, and 119 still to come (right)."

On page 18 we read this:

"Here is an example of Delboeuf's experiments. At 6.55 a.m. he suggested to his subject M. that at the 
expiration of 1,500 minutes she was to ask Madame Delboeuf if she required anything. This suggestion was carried out with absolute accuracy. Delboeuf made twelve experiments of this kind, the time-intervals suggested varying from 350 to 3,300 minutes. Two of these were fulfilled at the moment they fell due. In three the impulse to fulfil the suggested act arose at the right time."

What we see here is a time-tracking ability (in post-hypnotic suggestions) greater than any ability humans in normal consciousness. If you asked a person in normal consciousness to do something (such as jumping in the air) after the expiration of 1500 minutes, he would be most unlikely to do the requested thing at the exact time (without the use of something like an alarm clock). 

On page 15 we have this example obtained by a Dr. Bramwell (whose book on the topic you can read here):

"On Tuesday, December 24th, 1895, at 3.10 p.m., Miss D. was told, during hypnosis, that she was to make a cross on a piece of paper in 7,200 minutes (Exp. No. 7).  This fell due to be fulfilled on Sunday, December 29th.  When it was fulfilled Miss D. was teaching a Sunday School class, when she suddenly felt an impulse to make a cross and mark the time. It was only after doing so that she looked at the clock, which was behind her. Her estimation of the time was correct."

The next page tells us that 45 similar experiments with Miss D. produced similar results: "Forty-five were completely successful, i.e. not only did Miss D. write down the correct terminal time, but this was done, also, at the moment the experiment fell due." On the same page Mitchell tell us, "I have made a series of observations which corroborate in many ways the results obtained by Dr. Bramwell."

On page 19 Mitchell gives us exact results from experiments in post-hypnotic suggestion he did with a subject F.D. The astonishingly accurate results are shown below. For example, in the first experiment, the subject F. D. was told under hypnosis to do some specific thing (such as draw a cross) 700 minutes into the future, and the subject did that exactly that thing 700 minutes later. 

post-hypnotic suggestions

Phenomenon #9: mysterious cures

During the nineteenth century there were very many reports of people being mysteriously cured by hypnotic treatment. To find such reports, you can go to www.archive.org and search for "Mesmerism" and "animal magnetism" (the terms used for hypnosis treatments before the word "hypnosis" overtook them).  Many examples can be found in the book Vital magnetism: its power over disease by Frederick T. Parson.   

A modern scientific paper ("Improving working memory performance in brain-injured patients using hypnotic suggestion") states the following:

"Working memory impairment is prevalent in brain injured patients across lesion aetiologies and severities. Unfortunately, rehabilitation efforts for this impairment have hitherto yielded small or no effects. Here we show in a randomized actively controlled trial that working memory performance can be effectively restored by suggesting to hypnotized patients that they have regained their pre-injury level of working memory functioning." 

The paper testing 49 brain-damaged subjects reports a dramatic improvement in working memory for the subjects.  Group 1 with 27 subjects improved from an average score of 81.74 (well below average) to an average score of 107.44 (well above average).  Group 2 with 22 subjects improved from an average score of 80.36 (well below average) to an average score of 103.95 (substantially above average). 

A psychology paper reports that after a brain-damaged woman was hypnotized and told that she could fix her cognitive problems, she "had major improvements in the cognitive tests," and "her Working Memory Index improved from the 0.17 % percentile to the 10% percentile." 

See here for a wide variety of medical improvements produced by hypnosis.

Phenomenon #10: exaltation of thinking and speaking abilities

It has often been reported that in a hypnotic trance someone might be able to think and speak much better than he could in his normal consciousness. An example of such a thing is given in the book The Mechanism of Man: An Answer to the Question, what Am I? by Edward William Cox. On page 301 we read this:

"But the Trance patient does what the Somnambule does not....He maintains a conversation, answer- ing questions with astonishing ability and in language such as he cannot command in his waking state. Often he will argue with scholastic skill, treating with ease and accuracy subjects of profound thought, far beyond the range of his waking iutelligence. I have heard an uneducated barman, when in a state of Trance, maintain a dialogue with a party of philosophers on 'reason and foreknowledge. Will and fate,'  and hold his own against them. I have put to him the most difficult questions in Psychology and received answers, always thoughtful, often full of wisdom, and invariably conveyed in choice and eloquent language. Nevertheless, in a quarter of an hour afterwards, when wakened from the Trance, he was unable to answer the simplest query on a philosophical subject and was not merely inapt at the language of science he had been lately using so glibly, but at a loss for sufficient language in which to express a common- place idea."

The lack of any workable neuroscience theory to explain hypnotic phenemena

It is impossible to explain the more anomalous aspects of hypnotism under the prevailing dogmas that the brain is the cause of human mental phenomena and the storage place of memories.  When neuroscientists attempt to offer an explain for hypnotism, they usually use the trick of mentioning only a small subset of the phenomena that have been observed in hypnotic trances.  

Near the end of his book Hypnotism and Treatment by Suggestion, Bramwell commented on the lack of any good theory to explain what occurs under hypnotic trances.  He stated this:

"So far, no reasonable answer has been given to the question, 'What is the connection between hypnotic methods and the production of so-called hypnotic phenomena ?' Personally, I see no logical connection between the acts of fixed gazing, concentration of attention, suggested ideas of drowsy states, and the varied manifestations of so-called hypnosis."

After disputing some theories trying to explain hypnotism, the author states, "While I have raised objections to all the theories referred to — theories which are discussed much more fully in my larger work -- I have unfortunately, no theory of my own to bring forward in substitution for them."  Bramwell had no theory because he was man of a materialist bent. 

Once we discard materialist ideas about the brain, we may start to put forth some ideas that can begin to explain some of the mysteries of hypnotism.  One idea is that the brain is not the cause of our minds, but mainly a kind of valve that limits our minds. If so, then something fairly simple such as hypnotism might reduce that valve effect.  The result might be an abundance of mental phenomena inexplicable through any neural cause, not phenomena that are produced by the brain, but powers and aspects of a human soul that a normal brain blocked us from previously seeing, through a valve effect rather like how a valve prevents water from flowing. 


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