The Gateway Between Language and Memory
April 25, 2018
April 25, 2018
Can you hypnotise someone without speaking to them? Of course, but it’s harder. For some reason, the spoken word – both what you are saying and how you are saying it – are intensely hypnotic. If you want to deepen your understanding of the hypnotic process, it makes sense to wonder why.
It’s almost strange how effortless it is to listen. Compared with reading words on a page, spoken words have drawbacks. There’s always background noise, no matter how quiet it may seem. Words tumble together, with your brain scrambling to figure out where the pauses are. Let alone what any of it means.
Funny – it’s almost as if your brain has serious computational power dedicated to deciphering speech. It does and it’s called the temporal lobe. And where the brain dedicates resources, hypnotists are sure to follow.
The temporal lobe takes the noisy oscillating air that we call ‘talking’ and extracts meaning from it. This is no simple task and it has to perform fast. I’m not saying you never have awkward pauses in conversations, but it’s rarely a processing delay. You extract information from a noisy signal quickly and easily.
As hypnotists, we know that this processing occurs on multiple levels. When you give an embedded command – even a simple one like ‘a person can, you know, enter a relaxed state’ – they hear it in different ways. The conscious mind hears something so obvious they don’t question it. The unconscious mind also hears the embedded command to relax.
And they act on that embedded command, whether they consciously realise it or not.
The temporal lobe sits towards the base of the brain. It’s an old feature, meaning it has close ties with other old features. As such, if you were to crudely categorise parts of the brain on a ‘conscious’ and ‘unconscious’ spectrum, it’s firmly on the unconscious side.
Which brings us to the idea that spoken language plays a role in hypnosis. I know that’s not going to shock anyone, but it’s nice when science and experience agree.
What’s interesting is that the temporal lobe also regulates memory. The words someone hears influences what they remember. This is a nice thing to keep in your back pocket. If a subject wonders about how hypnosis works with memories, this might be the thing that convinces them.
Language and memory are two key parts of the hypnotic experience. It’s not surprising to us that they use the same part of the brain. What also verifies our experience is that the temporal lobe responds strongly to the hypnotic state. If you are going to hypnotise someone, the temporal lobe gets involved.