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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.

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The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Skeptic on Hypnosis -- Myst, SkiP

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There is something odd about this skeptic's commentary. Here we have someone who received hypnotherapy as a treatment for his feelings of existential dread, recounts multiple sessions where his mind was clearly resisting the technique (whether consciously or not), finally quits in disgust when nearby workmen disrupt his last appointment, and yet notes that by that time... his feelings of dread had disappeared.

Mysteriously. Because clearly it couldn't have been the hypnosis. Not after all his resistance and the outside interference.

Perhaps it's just me, but doesn't that kind of thing sound more like a smashing success than a disaster?

And while we're on the subject, has anyone ever noticed the brand of skeptics who insist that anecdotal evidence is highly questionable, yet when they come up with anecdotes "clearly debunking" something outlandish (like chiropractics, or acupuncture), suddenly their one personal encounter takes on a gravitas equalled only by large-scale government studies.

Be that as it may, I find self-hypnosis -- particularly the form in which the subject listens to a hypnotic soundtrack and slips into trance to hopefully make the desired changes -- to be one of the most intriguing forms of human enhancement technology. While I appreciate the efforts of medical professionals to provide effective treatment one-on-one with their patients, someone producing effective recorded hypnosis sessions can offer help to millions in a far cheaper and more convenient way. I could cite a random self-hypnosis website or a random retailer of pre-made hypnotic soundtracks, but for the purposes of this article, I won't bother.

Instead, I'll share what I find most intriguing about hypnosis as a method for augmenting natural human abilities. A long time ago, scientists discovered that hypnosis could be used to spur breast growth in women willing to change the shape of their bodies. What apparently no one asked, at least not publicly, was the obvious follow up question -- if you can increase the size of breasts in adult women when they normally do not change, what other, even more flexible parts of the body might be similarly effected to even greater effect?

Why not use hypnosis to increase muscle tone or muscle mass, to decrease fatty deposits (perhaps in targeted locations), to improve eyesight, to heal wounds... perhaps even to improve interconnectivity and healthy circulation in the brain, and hence the normal function of that critical organ? There are subtler ways in which hypnosis can be used to improve people's abilities, but these blindingly obvious options seemed to be almost completely ignored by hypnotists until the late 90s. Today, with the explosion of commercial products available, the concept itself is probably impinging itself upon the public consciousness.

Why then, should I not be overjoyed, and why should I be only mentioning "random" advocates of this movement? Because, right now, while many small studies exist on the effectiveness of this or that particular technique, there is very little in the way of comparative studies regarding the efficacy of one commercial product versus another. Admittedly, in a fast-changing field, it may be that many soundtracks will be outdated within months. But a simple set of studies setting a baseline could indicate which products, for instance, actually improved learning abilities in kids, and to what degree each one did so. (For example, which ones were best at improving memorization, which helped most with logical problems like math, which improved verbal skills, etc.)

Sometimes simple experiments like this can both help legitimize the best practitioners while "debunking" the hucksters and the merely mediocre. By bringing to light the true gems, and indicating just what they're most effective at, this resource could reach the public in a far more effective fashion.


Future Imperative

14 Comments:

Blogger Brent Salmon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

November 08, 2005 10:07 AM  
Blogger Brent Salmon said...

Totally agree. The problem though is money and suppression. I'm not a conspiracy nut who sees monsters in every shadow, but I do know economics. Having everyone know that they can heal themselves and improve their quality of life without big pharma or the FDA is a big no-no to said industries. There have been reports of people curing themselves of cancer using hypnotherapy when all hope was lost. The trillion dollar cancer industry would not like that if it became well known and honed to perfection for everyone, hence no money or "interest" in studies. A guy my folks used to play darts with was diagnosed with fatal stomach cancer by 3 different doctors, he was given 3 months to live. He told them "To hell with that" and 28 years later he's still playing darts. Then there's all the amazing things Milton Erickson (who cured himself of polio using his mind) and many other hypnotherapists have helped people do. Anyway I'll wrap this up now. Deleted the first one to remove some spelling and grammatical errors, oh how I lose eloquence when I'm passionate. ;)

November 08, 2005 10:10 AM  
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February 28, 2006 4:38 AM  
Blogger Stress Help said...

Wow! This is an amazing blog! :-) You might be interested in my Self Hypnosis blog which has basic info about hypnosis (including uses and health benefits). If you get a chance, drop by and let me know what you think.

September 26, 2006 2:17 AM  
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