Sunday, February 15, 2009

Meditation and Hypnosis

3rd party account on Steve Hassan's take on hypnosis. A lot of unwarranted assertions and amalgames from Hassan, but also a distinction between thought-stopping meditation and thought-stopping "mind-control".

AntiCultControversies : Message: Re: Debunking Hypnosis Myths

I did not have a lot of time to actually read Hassan's web site but when I checked it some years ago he seemed to already make a distinction between "real" spiritual approaches and "mind-control" ones.

Now I don't agree with the concept "mind-control" as such, but I think that to at least make this distinction is a positive point. Many anti-cultists just file meditation and other thought-stopping techniques as just brainwashing, mind-control or hypnosis:
"Practicing meditation to shut down thinking, chanting a phrase repetitively for hours, or reciting affirmations are all powerful ways to promote spiritual growth. But they can also be used unethically, as methods for mind control indoctrination."

"When you're in a trance and someone with an ulterior motive or hidden agenda tries to indoctrinate you, you're that much more susceptible. In this very special state of relaxation, messages can easily take root in your subconscious."
There may be some truth in that, which is why in Scientology auditing, great care is taken not to "evaluate" for the pre-clear. It does not mean that it amounts to hypnosis, it means that if you indeed are in a state of relaxation and trust, you may be more suggestible.

Note that deprogrammers are doing the exact contrary. They make loads and loads of "evaluations" and suggestions. Of course the kidnapped person may not be in state of "relaxation", but he may be in a state of shock, which would increase suggestibility as well.

Without necessarily using kidnapping, or any "trance" state for that matter, anti-cultists just make a lot of evaluations and suggestions - that the person is under mind-control, that he has been dupped, etc...

You don't really need to be in a special state for suggestions to work. It could just be done in a normal waking state.

I remember riding from San Diego to Los Angeles with Ted Patrick and he showed me on the way an "Exxon" gas station. He said: "You see that sign? That's suggestion". There's some truth in that. It's just as simple.

I also remember reading L. Ron Hubbard's definition of brainwashing (I believe it's in the tech dictionary). It said brainwashing is to bring the person to see the possibility of something being true, and then, through loads of evaluations and invalidations, force him to believe that it is.

This is exactly what deprogrammers do. They tell the person what to think and in the process use countless put-down to bring the person to doubt of himself and accept deprogrammers authority as true. Since there is some truth in the claim Scientology and other groups are "cults", when the person sees that truth, he swallows all the rest of the suggestions being made to him, and thus becomes basically indoctrinate in yet another us-vs-them viewpoint. He becomes a true anti-cultist.

It's all suggestion, but no need to use hypnosis to explain it.

Krishnamurti also has a take on that. To some people telling him that being quiet and still and without thought could make the person open to suggestions or other attacks, he said something like "precisely, which is why you also need to be vigilant". Krishnamurti advises people to be still and vigilant, not simply being still, but at the same time being awake, aware... in such a state you'll just catch up any suggestions as they happen, and just the awareness of them would make you free of their power on you.

"4. Thought-stopping techniques (to shut down "reality testing" by stopping "negative" thoughts and allowing only "good" thoughts); rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism."
Again, this is a mis-conception. The whole idea of being without thought is to be rid of prejudices and fixed idea. Being still and awake, allows you to "see" whatever argument for what it is. Quite on the contrary, it is true critical thinking.

This being said, it may be true that some groups use this concept to get people to avoid looking at all, by tagging any criticism and questioning as something negative or of the devil. It's a misconception too, a corruption of the original meaning. While anti-cultists are right to point this out, they are wrong to make, on this basis, assumptions and assertions that aren't true either, as above. Both sides basically share the same misconception, though in different ways.

However, it again has little to do with hypnosis. It's just what human people tend to do. One of the many illusions one can fall into.

"Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking"
Cultish characteristics, shared by cultists and anti-cultists alike. Just read any "critical" forum and the reaction of most anti-cultists to dissenters to see how it works.

In my opinion, Hassan's concept of hypnosis is too stretched. In addition, he writes that most cults use hypnosis. I wonder whether cults use hypnosis at all and how often. It seems that this is one more point of misunderstanding caused by Hassan's mind control theory.
The point is that you do not need to use hypnosis at all to explain what happens in cultic groups. Quite on the contrary, it just muddles the water, and uses loaded concepts based on fear. I don't think any group uses hypnosis as such, and even the mere concept of "hypnosis" and "trance" has been questioned.

The irony is that "hypnosis" is itself a suggestion! In that, it joins together with "mind-control", brainwashing", and "subliminal influence", as I wrote on my subliminal influence page:
"What is the difference between subliminal persuation, mind-control and brainwashing? Basically, nothing. They all three are a way of saying that there exist some kind of magical process able to influence other people’s mind against their will, and they all three have been used to instill irrational fear and prejudice towards unpopular groups. Even though evidence to support any of these three myths have been quite thoroughly debunked, they keep having a potent effect in the mind of an uninformed public who tend to believe such a magical process exists, works, and is being used against unsuspecting victims."

No comments: