Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Different Sort Of Programming

A chance exploration of the Theory of Hypnosis has led to some interesting speculation. These ideas, it must be confessed, have more in common with fancy than science though. To sample some delicious cargo-cult science, direct your nearest web search engine to dig up dirt on "Hypnosis".

Apparently, the central concept in hypnosis is distracting or otherwise engaging the left half of the brain such that the Hypnotist can access the subconscious directly. I recollect reading somehere that we almost always rationalize our decisions post-fact. Let us assume for a moment that it is the subconscious that decides my likes and dislikes. If I could "program" my subconscious effectively then I could control my likes and dislikes. The problem with this line of thought is that it distinguishes between "I" and "my subconscious". To get around this problem let us further assume that "I" applies to that aspect of my consciousness that finds my likes and dislikes irrational at times. Dare I call it Super-I.

Question is, is it possible to distract my left brain (what "I" would that be?) such that my Super-I could control my consciousness? There are numerous problems with this question and I find myself ill-equipped at the present time to think through all of them. In the interest of interest and time, let us assume that there is such a trinity in our consciousness and interplay between them allows for such self-programming. Or self-hypnosis.

One of the more pleasurable thought experiments I indulge in, is to apply my conclusions to the extant religious rituals that I am familiar with. Let us take the practice of counting beads while meditating. I posit, with aesthetic rather than science as my champion, that this can be explained in terms of distracting the left brain with the mechanical action of counting the beads and accessing the subconscious. The distraction can be further increased by simultaneously chanting something complicated.

Drawing a line through this, perhaps further success in keeping the left brain otherwise occupied can be achieved by creating a sensory overload. I call it the Distraction Principle. The difficulty lies in getting the Super-I to program the subconscious when the left brain isn't looking. The difficulty lies in "getting" the Super-I , period.

As I sit on my terminal, listening to Lee Ann Womack, drinking coffee, flicking my fingers over the hard plastic of my keyboard and watching these words appear on my screen, I cannot help but wonder if the only thing keeping me from a mystical epiphany is the absence of some extra-strong incense sticks.

No comments: