RE: Voices

Bill Ramsay (
Mon, 07 Jul 1997 14:13:24 +0100


Further to your reply,

>Regarding your comments of a day or two ago:
>>Not unrelated, perhaps, to the question of getting persons "under hypnosis"
>>to commit criminal or irrational acts? The context in whch the voices are
>>heard (or the context presented "under hypnosis" - see Richard Condon, "The
>>Manchurian Candidate") must affect the construing thereof. If obeying the
>>command will invalidate core constructs then it is less likely to be obeyed,
>>if not, then obedience is more likely?
>I don't really know anything about hypnosis, but suggesting a connection
>with halluciantions is an interesting proposition. I suspect a major
>difference between the experience of hallucinating and hypnosis is the level
>of consciousness.

I don't know anything either and I hesitated to introduce it, given that it
can get people quite hot under the collar. I'm not sure, though, that it
_is_ level of consciousness. Salter, A. (1949) "Conditioned Reflex
Therapy", Capricorn Book Edition, reckoned hypnotic states to be fully
conscious, if I remember rightly. An ancient reference, but fascinating on
the subject. And what happens to the trancee isnot hallucination, is it? I
wonder, too (grasshopper mind!)if this also relates to, e.g. Susan
Blackmore's work on sleep paralysis and the experience of alien encounters
and abduction?

>>Peripheral, but entertaining at the time: an elderly friend who had been a
>>wireless operator/air gunner in the RAF pre-WWII used to wind his wife up by
>>saying he was getting messages in Morse Code from their (old and rattly)
>>refrigerator. At least, we think he was winding her up ... How could we
>>have told?
>Did he or did he not get messages from the fridge? Who knows? Did your
friend ever >elaborate as to what these messages were/were they distressing
to him?. Did he ever >discuss these messages when his wife wasn't there ...


Actually, the absence of such concerns is the main evidence we had for a
wind-up. He was an intelligent and humorous chap who could easily have
reconstrued the fridge's noises for just such a purpose.


>As for your "psychosis", I would say the range of human experience is very
>wide. They sound intriguing, but that's all I would say.

Actually, since mentioning it, I've been wondering whether the problem of
hallucination v. dreaming isn't a matter of construing. At what point does
a dream become a hallucination? My "psychosis" episodes are usually
sleep-associated, i.e. they occur in conscious, but
'recently-become-conscious', states. I construe them as memories of
conscious episodes, not as memories of dreams, and find myself resistant to
re-construing them as the latter. In sleep paralysis the victim is
conscious but paralysed, thus sharing characteristics of waking and dream
states both, and often seems to experience a presence in the room. The
common consequence seems to be to explain the experience by construing it as
a 'real' one rather than a dream and its content depends on local mythology
(Blackmore's investigation of "the Old Hag" in Newfoundland, sundry alien
encounters in "X-files" land, visions by shamans).

Sorry for the continuing biographical bit, but it gives me a handle on the
problem. I suspect that we are asking the wrong questions, or construing in
the wrong context.

Your patience and taking the trouble to reply to what's gone before has been
much appreciated.



W. Ramsay,
Dept. of Educational Studies,
University of Strathclyde,
Jordanhill Campus,
G13 1PP,

'phone: +44 (0)141 950 3364 (direct dial-in)
fax: +44 (0)141 950 3367
'fax: +44 (0)141 950 3367