RE: Voices

Bob Green (
Tue, 8 Jul 1997 06:42:49 +1000


Regarding your most recent post:

>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?

I am not at all familiar with sleep paralysis so I would need to look into
this, unless you can offer a precis. I can't comment on aliens either but
did read in the paper how an Indian woman believed she was accosted by a
ghost at a toilet and a levelof hysteria has developed which the police
were trying to calm. More locally a woman who sees the Virgin Mary and her
real estate agent husband are buying up a small town nearby. These
experiences appear to be adopted by others (sociality) whereas many
experiences labelled as psychotic are very isolating and alienating, the
exception being cases of folie a deux.

In terms of the difference between hypnosis and hallucinating, I will
canvass a few colleagues at work and see what response I get. Some
interesting constructs may emerge.

>>>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.

This will undoubtedly remain a mystery, but how long did your friend report
these experiences, would he ever tell you about them when you were alone
with him?

>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.

Probably most of our actions and utterances are biographical. I recall a
psychiatrist at work speaking of the awakening (?) state as being one in
which experiences akin to psychosis can occur. I will clarify this with
him. The word hynogogic comes to mind, but I will need to check this. I
stress the word akin, because your everyday construing is different, this is
one major difference between the two.

I have enjoyed this discussion and when I have time would like to try and
put some of the strands together.