Science Questions

Sun, 6th Mar 2005

Part of the show The Science of Hypnosis


Paul asked:

I was hypnotised and thought I was a Dutch girl from 1815. Was this my former life?


The thing about the hypnotised mind, like any other mind, is that nature abhors a vacuum. If you take someone back to before they were born and then say, 'who are you?' one answer might be 'I'm no-one because I haven't been born yet'. However, the nature of the question itself implies that there is an answer. The brain is very fertile and this is the reason why police don't use hypnotism to obtain details from witnesses. Asking someone about a robbery and the car number plate is fraught with danger. People think they are answering truthfully but have in fact constructed a story from lots of things in their brains. I could tell you a story about being a Dutch girl but it doesn't mean I ever was. By turning off the reality centre in the brain, your threshold for telling that what you are saying is nonsense is reduced. Another analogy that might be helpful for memories in general is to think of islands poking through a lake. Occasionally as memories fade, it is as if an island has subsided a bit. With a little judicious lowering of the lake level, maybe you could get them to poke through. If you do that in any big way, you get irregularities from the bottom of the lake that never were genuine memories. As they start poking through people think they are remembering something even though it's totally fictitious. Unfortunately, there's no way of telling the difference.


Subscribe Free

Related Content

Not working please enable javascript
Powered by UKfast
Genetics Society