Evil" hypnosis is what I call the popular view of hypnosis as something that s used by devious agencies or individuals to control people's minds urreptitiously. Mind control or behavior control are possible with hypnosis only temporarily, and only to a similar degree as with other forms of psychotherapy. Roughly the same forces of influence apply in and out of hypnosis. Individual differences and personal psychological needs are much more important in determining our capacity to be lastingly influenced than our state of consciousness in hypnosis. The roles we play under hypnosis are emporary. Permanent change to our personality occurs only when our core self-image is altered., which requires more than just superficial exposure to hypnosis.
Hypnosis can be used to some extent as a tool for gaining influence by omeone who betrays our trust in them. It might be slightly easier to take advantage of someone with hypnosis, since they are relaxed, they are not valuating ideas critically, and they are very sensitive to social cues. ncreased vulnerability to persuasion is not an intrinsic characteristic of hypnosis, however. It takes time and skill to turn the hypnotic situation into 3ne of profound persuasion by altering the self-image.
The qualities of hypnosis that make it useful as part of an influence echnology are the capacity to create vivid, realistic fantasies, and the capacity of a very skillful hypnotist to make these fantasies seem as if they actually happened (pseudomemories). We are also temporarily less critical during hypnosis, and more willing to consider ideas that would otherwise seem unorthodox. These are traits that many people (particularly certain highly hypnotizable people) have without hypnosis, however. Hypnosis may only ncreases these factors by a relatively small amount and cannot be considered he only or even the most important reason for people accepting bizarre new deas.
Simply going through hypnosis does not leave you vulnerable to having your ore values or beliefs altered. Beliefs, values, and attitudes shift slightly over ime, and hypnosis can provide fertile ground for new experiences that help to shift them. This is particularly true when we are already vulnerable to the nfluence of strong social forces such as trusted authority or the need to be mmersed in a group identity. Advertisers use various methods of influencing our buying behavior, and religious groups have their own kind of tactics of persuasion. Not only do these not require hypnosis, but many are actually more powerful than hypnosis at influencing us. The power of social influence echniques might increase somewhat under hypnosis, because we are less ritical, but the influence does not originate with the hypnosis.
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lasting changes to someone's personality, their sense of identity would need to be destabilized, and a new additional sense of identity created to replace it. Even with this extreme process, without constant reinforcement of the new dentity, we tend to revert to the original identity. Analysis of the results of xtreme conditions of "brainwashing" and thought reform show us that pectacular temporary success is sometimes achieved if total environmental ontrol of the person is available for an extended time. There is much less uccess is achieving longer term changes in personality, even after years of ontinuous reinforcement is undertaken. This is not to say that years of hought reform do not change people, only that many people do not conform permanently to the desired ideal even after years of forced indoctrination.
Experiments have shown that it is actually possible to mimic the symptoms of dissociative identity disorder by building multiple identity senses over time with the help of hypnosis. Some have claimed that this process could be used to create the "Manchurian Candidate," a person with an assassin personality that is unknown to their other personalities. This is quite a bit beyond what was demonstrated, however, and is not consistent with what has been observed so far about the process. The identity senses built over time are not as distinct or autonomous as this extreme scenario would require.
"Mind control," to the extent that it actually occurs, is rarely a matter of imple technology applied to an individual by another individual. It is much more likely to be the result of our dependence upon an organization in a igidly controlled physical, intellectual, and social environment. An example ntended to be used for healing is a psychiatric hospital. A negative example would be a totalitarian religious cult or prisoner of war camp. Other, less xtreme examples of the use of social pressures to help change us are ddiction recovery groups. In perhaps the most extreme example, the prisoner of war camp, one analysis found that only one in a hundred prisoners exposed o Korean communist indoctrination attempts actually showed much acceptance of communist doctrine after repatriation. (Segal, 1956). This helps put the potential for easy and complete mind control into a little more realistic perspective.
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Hypnosis is a capital instrument for relaxation and alleviating stress. It helps calm down both the brain and body, giving a useful rest. All the same it can be rather costly to hire a clinical hypnotherapist, and we might not always want one around when we would like to destress.