More and more often I come across the notion of hypnotism in the context of decision making, social conditioning and authenticity. It refers to situations when we act not according to our own choices but according to external agencies that have their agenda that determines our action. I am drawn to this word, its mysteriousness is very appealing and I enjoy seeing it popping up in many places. Th main idea is that we are all constantly under a hypnosis moved by the forces that are outside of our control. These forces can be anything ranging from childhood memories to clever algorithms used by social media to make us feel the way they need us to feel. Everything that has motive to move us in a certain direction without conscious awareness and ability to resist can have hypnotising effect.
Hypnosis literally means “being asleep”. Some time ago I was writing about the parallels between zombie behaviours and our being in the world. Hypnotism seems even more interesting to unfold. It is more subtle, more opaque. If you are a zombie you don’t argue and defend your decisions you just mindlessly consume and desire. Under hypnosis you still can be an active participator, moving in the world and doing things but you are not acting out of your agency, and doing so without awareness. In that state you still believe it is you who is making choices, an entity who has a free will to act. Even more so we become true warriors and protectors of these imposed actions. We are living our default purpose and fighting for it till the end. When we reach the bottom of the misery, unhappy, unfulfilled and lost, paradoxically the effect of hypnosis starts to weaken and we get a chance to wake up. It takes a lot of work and effort to recover from the deep sleep we were in for many years. The process is accompanied with many uncomfortable side effects. Your hypnotised friends and family will probably meet you with resistance, deviation from the normal behaviour very rarely is met with enthusiasm. The controlling agency will also be unhappy with your new condition as it loses an obedient and submissive member of society. So not an easy transformation to engage with. Prepare to feel discomfort, unease and resistance accompanied with loneliness, doubt, necessity to think and be able to take a stand for choices.
The main principle of hypnosis is inducing a selective heightened focus and concentration. Minimising the field of possibilities by directing attention towards one place increases the response for suggestions. This suggestion becomes the only reality there is.
The default mode most people are in is under hypnosis, maintained by various sleep-inducing technologies successfully developed by scientific research and embedded into capitalist modality. The attention economy is built on narrowing down the amount or real options, creating myriad of seemingly different options that are all the same in their essence. Did you ever find yourself in the middle of an action without knowing how you got there? A very obvious and direct example is checking our phone under the dinner table while having dinner with friends. If so that’s the magic spell of a sleep-inducing technology that tech companies are implementing in their products. One of the classic hypnotic induction techniques is called eye-fixation. It is achieved by holding a bright object between the fingers and placing it at a distance of about 30 centimetres from patients eyes asking her to fixate on the object for prolonged period of time. Rings a bell?
Most of the decisions we make are under hypnosis of one force or another. To detect it while being in it is impossible. Rather than trying to find which actions we do while in a hypnotic state and which not, assume everything we do is affected. From that space of full recognition and surrender we start to claim back our ability to decide and deal with the consequences of these decisions. By broadening the range of possibilities, opening up and relaxing attention and allowing the focus, I wonder if we can break the spell and wake up.