Negative Hallucinations in a Hypnotic Trance
Reading a lot of material on Erickson one can’t help but come across examples in his work of his causing negative hallucinations in certain subjects. For those of you imagining evil pink elephants, diagnosis allow me to firstly suggest you stop smoking so much bad weed and secondly explain that in hypnotic parlance a negative hallucination is merely the phenomenon whereby a subject is told that certain people or events that are currently in his field of perception are not there or will not be noticed.
Erickson was in many ways a pioneer in hypnosis work and he did this sort of thing at demonstrations with other doctors, sometimes using a doctor as a subject too. This sort of trick is sometimes also done by stage hypnotists with willing participants. Nevertheless, due to the amount of sometimes dubious work as well as many modern advances it has been my personal practice to always assume nothing until I have personally investigated the viability or reality of something when it comes to hypnosis. It is generally recognised that causing a negative hallucination is normally more difficult to do than even a positive hallucination unless one has a good hypnotic subject.
Since therapeutically I had yet to see any reason to cause a negative hallucination, I had mostly decided to not really pursue this particular phenomena. Until that is, I found myself surrounded by roughly 3000 devotees of what can only be described as a sect or cult of Indian origin.
Now it is probably somewhat necessary here for me to take a small detour and briefly describe how it is that I came to be surrounded by 3000 partially brainwashed cult-members. That discussion however would be quite a detour, and yes, of course you just know there’s going to be a woman involved. There always is really. Damn the French. There may also have been some fighting with Nazis. And whilst the women in the audience are tut-tutting in primitive female wisdom at how it was probably all due to some crazy girl that just loved drama, I know that the gentlemen in the stalls are similarly nodding with equally primitive wisdom and brotherly understanding not only because they know the open secret of heroic men and dramatic girls (they scream louder! That’s why we like them!) but even more so when I confirm that indeed yes, she was frighteningly hot-looking and scary good in bed too. What’s 3000 brainwashed dervishes to that, right gentlemen?
Anyway, the scene would not really be out of place in some Indiana Jones type of setting, where our dashingly handsome hero, blinded by the highly intellectual pursuits of his scientific mind, albeit his small mind, finds himself being incorporated into some ritualistic kind of situation, complete with megalomaniac leader of a cult (female in this case, though not without some evidence of a Chaplin-like moustache) that allows her prophets to announce her as the reincarnation of Krishna, complete with much chanting, opium-flavoured incense and rhythmic, hypnotic, trance-inducing music constantly in the background.
Luckily, our hero is trained in the subtle art of hypnosis, not to mention having a keenly observant eye and can spot a cultish brainwashing apparatus when he spots one. And all of the above, complete with several thousand brainwashed followers might have been missed by another investigator, but not our hero ladies and gentlemen. No indeed, he’s far too sharp for that! Sadly he realises only too late that the hot girl in question really seems to have bought into this crazy ideology to the hilt. Luckily he escapes with his life and his mind intact (including the little mind thank the Gods!). And yet, surely he must make one last-ditch attempt at rescuing the fair (damn fair) maiden from the clutches of such delusion…and so…he ventures once more into the belly of this cult. Here, gentle readers is where we find our hero.
Of course, mere seconds after locating the fair maiden in question it becomes crystal clear to him that this may not have been his wisest moment. It is at about this time that he notices that he is the only person dressed in black in a sea of devotees all dressed in white. As if waking from a glamour, and realising that the fair maiden may well be fair, but despite meeting her guru right up close (think along the lines of getting your book autographed, only it was a hug instead of an autograph, which is actually somewhat more disturbing) there is no way in hell he’s signing up for this little party. What to do then gentle readers? Well. The only thing left. Study the methods employed. I did mention I get a little obsessive about things that interest me didn’t I. Things like Hypnosis…
As a result I spent the next two days observing all the hypnosis related techniques this cult employed to literally brainwash people into believing the female guru was actually a god. I really wish I was making this part up, but sadly, I am not.
In some ways India can be thought of as the birthplace of hypnosis and observing this sect for several days, thanks to the excellent training I had received and my obsessive study further beyond it, I found myself engrossed in their techniques. It was truly a moment of clarity, yet I also realised that the hypnotic induction being pretty constant throughout the 12 hours of each day which the gathering lasted, it was infiltrating even my steel-trap mind. Somewhere on the second day therefore, I resolved to use their own methods against them. I lay down in the packed hall (luckily amongst the 3000 followers or so there were many others who lay or sat on the floor too) and used their own constant rhythmic music to put myself into a restorative trance. As is my habit, I noted the time in a diary I had with me.
And this is where I thought a negative hallucination would be quite useful. I did my usual self-hypnotic induction and shortly afterwards began to descend into a deep trance. Within what felt like only a few minutes —though it may have been more as time distortion is a normal part of the experience when you go into such deep trances— I began to occlude from my senses the crowds milling all around me, the speaker on the stage and ultimately even the incessant rhythmic music blaring out over loudspeakers. I was transported into a blissfully silent dimension where I could simply be at peace with my own internal balance. The experience was completely natural and pleasant for me and it was only afterwards, when I came out of the trance and reawakened my senses that I realised just how utterly amazing the whole thing was. The noise produced by several thousand people talking, moving and literally walking around my prone body while loud music blared constantly from loudspeakers, one of which was a mere few metres from me, was quite astonishing, but I had completely blocked it all out and I had been in a place of utter silence and quiet and internal bliss and peace. I had not fallen asleep either, it was purely a trance state and one of the better ones I have had.
When I came out of it I thought my watch had gone wrong, but on checking I discovered there was nothing wrong with my watch. I had been in a trance for over 4 hours. I felt refreshed, healed, completely clear-minded and when I looked up to one of the balconies and saw the girl in question realised with utter clarity that none of this had anything to do with me. She was still pretty of course, and I did care about her, but her path was nothing I could change. And I had no wish to try anymore. I wished her well though I had a sense that it would be many years, if ever, before she could find any peace. For that I was truly sorry, but in a detached way, it was no longer my problem. In truth, it never had been.
This event happened several years in my past at a time when I had been studying hypnosis for only about a year, yet I have still to come across a better example of a perfect negative hallucination. And in this case it had been a particularly useful one too. So there you go. If you ever need to infiltrate a cult founded on brainwashing (and which cult doesn’t do this really?) then be sure that you may learn this little trick from the inimitable Dr. Zarkov and his survival of the Crystal Palace of Doom.