Mischaracterized Nature of (Hypnotic) Amnesia:
Anyone that has had the experience of hypnotizing an individuals for any great length of time will be familiar with the scenario of inducing a trance, deepening it, giving suggestions, emerging the subject from the trance state and them having ‘amnesia’ for all that occurred during the session. Recently I was reading an article by Milton Erickson (Clinical and Experimental Observations on Hypnotic Amnesia: Introduction to an Unpublished Paper) where he was speaking of various distinctions that he had made regarding ordinary forgetting and hypnotic amnesia.
The first couple of pages of the article is him speaking about the challenges in experimental design in testing various assumptions and being able to differentiate between the two phenomena. Towards the end of the paper though Erickson relates an interesting example of something that most people would mischaracterize as Amnesia one that I am sure in varying forms most of us can identify with.
“This example relates to the teaching of a series of tricks to the family dog. By force of circumstances this teaching and all performances of the tricks occurred in a basement room, although the dog had the run of the entire house. One day, long after the dog had not only learned the tricks well but would perform them spontaneously in anticipation of a food reward, visitors asked for a demonstration. The dog was called into the living room, a crust of bread was offered, and the usual commands were given. The dog gave every evidence of wanting the bread but seemed to have no understanding of the commands or of what was wanted, despite patient, repeated efforts. When everyone went down to the basement, the sight of the bread crust was sufficient to elicit repeated spontaneous performances of all her tricks without commands being given. Even after having eaten the bread, she performed readily upon commands from anybody without further reward. Upon return to the living room the dog again seemed unable to understand commands, nor did the offer of food do more than elicit restless, hungry behavior. Giving her small morsels didn’t help, but another trip to the basement resulted in an adequate performance. Finally, after repeated commands and offering of food and much restless puzzled behavior by the dog, she finally began to understand the familiar command of “roll over.” She responded by racing to the basement, performing the task, and then racing back for the food reward, repeating this behavior at every new command.”
Erickson does go on in the next paragraph to say, “While this behavior cannot legitimately be called an amnesia, certain of the results were comparable to those that would derive from an amnesia.” This observation by Erickson seems to fall in line with the research presented in Gabriel Radvansky’s book, Memory P.125 where he speaks of, “Context being an important memory cue.” There is a phenomena that is referred to as Encoding Specificity. An example of this would be seminar amnesia as many of us like to call it. We teach students how to do amazing and wonderful skills or we see people pull off amazing things in seminars but then once they walk outside the seminar room doors all that they just had is no longer available to them. It’s almost as if it never happened.
Radvansky cited an example of encoding specificity, “Having lived most of his life in St. Louis, Missouri, except for 2 years at the University of Texas at Austin, and 4 years in the military service during the Second World War, my father returned to Texas after 42 long years of forgetting. Although previously certain that he could recall only a few disembodied fragments of memories of his college days, he became increasingly amazed, upon his return, at the freshness and detail of his newly remembered experiences. Strolling along the streets of Austin, my father suddenly stopped and animatedly described the house in which he lived in a location now occupied by a parking lot. He recalled in vivid detail, for example, how an armadillo had climbed up the drainpipe one night and became his pet, and how the woman who had cooked for the residents of his house had informed them of the attack on Pearl Harbor, abruptly ending his college career. Not until he returned to the setting in which those long-past events had occurred had my father thought or spoken of them.” (Radvansky, 2010)
Radvansky further goes on to speak of a study in which scuba divers learned lists of words. Some divers learned the words on land other learned them underwater. The divers were then tested in both contexts. It was found that divers that learned on land recalled better on land than underwater and that divers that learned underwater recalled better underwater than on land. The implication of all this research appears to me that if a person wants to have information available in multiple contexts then they should learn it there or use it there so that there is a generalizing effect.
This all got me thinking. Many times what is really a situation of something NOT generalizing we mischaracterize it as amnesia or forgetting. At the most we could consider this non-generalizing a form of amnesia or forgetting but then even that might be stretching it. The applicability of this information to me seems two fold 1.) we begin getting closer to describing the varying phenomena that is all lumped together as ‘Amnesia’ or ‘Forgetting’ 2.) as we break down these various phenomena we discover fairly simple ways to deal with them.
Imprints according to conventional psychology is thought to be a type of phase sensitive learning, a type of learning that occurred at particular age or phase of life. One of the things that I'm good at is looking for patterns between different ways of thinking and being able to examine things by analogy.
Hence for the topic of imprints I will be breaking it down into several posts all examining the same subject through various different ways of working with imprints. Some of what I say might seem insightful and other things that I state might seem dead wrong. My intention here is not to get to the right answer as it is to convey different ways of viewing this phenomena and working with it.
It we were to think of an imprint in terms of memory it could be likened to something such as a flashblub memory in that they are often events that occur that are highly vivid to the individual that they occurred with in.
Something that does appear to be particularly interesting about Imprints is that they appear to effect the functioning of an individual for years to come unless appropriately altered. People that are familiar with Time Line work in NLP will see Imprints referred to as Significant Emotional Events (S.E.E.).
In one of the very first books on NLP, "Frogs into Princes" John Grinder and Richard Bandler detailed a pattern called, "Change Personal History" this pattern allows the user to track any in 'limiting feeling' that they might be experiencing back to the initial 'reference experience' (Imprint/S.E.E/Flashblub Memory).
After a brief 'break state' the individual receives the opportunity to conjure from their personal history any resources that had they had them back then the situation in question would not have been an issue.
I have had experiences in the past where I have had individuals say that had they had a sense of safety, security, confidence, etc... that they would have been able to deal with the situation in question more appropriately.
Utilizing anchoring techniques from NLP we were able to take those resources from various contexts in the individuals life and apply them to the problem context in order to transform the 'reference experience'.
What then is often done is that they are then instructed to take this new and altered perception of the event and to imagine moving forward and to notice what things they would have done differently given this new and transformed experience.
Often times the person being worked with will notice quite a few things.
Typically a person once they make it to the present moment what is then done is that the are asked to clear their mind and then to think of future contexts that will be affected by having made this change and to notice what they do differently.
This pattern "Change Personal History" is very useful for assisting people to clear up all kinds limiting experiences. I'm impressed at how often people are haunted by past experiences that were beyond there control. This pattern along with "Reimprinting" pattern developed by Robert Dilts work wonderfully in transforming limiting imprints into resources that allow people to move on with their lives using those past experiences in a way that serves them.
The book that I am recommending has both "Change Personal History" and "Reimprinting" patterns in them. I would suggest anyone check them out.
Self Talk is something that if a person does not learn to manage can make your life hell. But if you learn how to transform it quite often your worst critic can become your greatest ally. I can't tell you how many times I was being haunted by self talk and how bad it made certain areas of my life. Had known how to transform my self talk, man my life could have been so much easier.
Just today I was surfing Amazon and I saw Transforming Negative Self Talk by Steve Andreas. I can't tell you how highly I recommend this book. Incredibly useful book with many many different exercises that are incredibly useful in transforming self talk!!
Below I'm including a link to Amazon. I am an affiliate with them so every time you buy something from them using one of my links they will give me a commission. It costs you absolutely nothing and helps me support my book buying addiction.
This is THE best book on transforming Self Talk that I have ever come across. I have gone to thousands and thousands of dollars worth of trainings and never once have I received as many useful exercises for transforming negative self talk as this book offers!
Self Concept is something that is thought about in a great number of ways. There are thousands of resources all over the internet all referencing different ways of influencing one's concept of themselves. Whether it's a person's sense of their social self, spiritual self, sense of self reliance, etc... all these qualities are made of the same stuff.
We form our sense of self based on the internal representations that we hold inside our minds. Think about it... if you were to think of your self image... what kind of picture would you see in your mind? Is it a big picture? A small one? Do you see yourself as if you are watching someone in a movie or do you see it through your own eyes? There are so many different distinctions such as the ones described above the comprise the 'stuff' of your self concept.
The difference between a useful self concept and an unuseful on is really the difference between how one codes the differences between the two. To influence change at the level of self concept is fairly simple to do so long as you have an effect model for how to do so.
Transforming Your Self by Steve Andreas is the culmination of a multi-year modeling project in which Steve set out to model the structure of self concept.
What I can say from Steve's work is that an amazing job!
If you ever said to yourself something to the effect of... that is just not something I can imagine myself doing... or that is just not who I am... if it's useful... and you really want to... by the time you are done reading this book you will be able to...
After reading this book and engaging in the thought experiments that Steve outlines you will be able not to only shift your self concept in a useful way but you will be able to assist others in doing the same.