I have searched up this information on related subjects and offer it here for conveniance.

Memory And Morphogenetic Fields,by Robert Gilman

Subject: Principles of Spiritual Hypnosis: Comments found in newsgroups



Robert Todd Carroll, searching for memory, the brain, the mind, and the past by Daniel Schacter



Patel RoadwaysLtd. Copyright © 1997 Indian Express Newspapers

(Bombay) Ltd.

TOKYO, December 17: Japan was in a state of video

game shock on Wednesday after a television cartoon

based on Nintendo's popular "Pocket Monsters"

characters triggered convulsions in hundreds of

children around the country.


A spokesman for the Tokyo fire department, which

carried out a national survey, told Reuters at

least 618 children suffered convulsions, vomiting,

irritated eyes and other symptoms from watching

the cartoon on Tuesday night.


The blame was put on a scene depicting an

explosion followed by five seconds of flashing red

lights from the eyes of the most popular character

"Pikachu", a rat-like creature.

About 120 children, aged from three upwards, were

still in hospital with epilepsy-like symptoms.


The posts and telecommunications ministry, which

supervises TV stations, announced it is

investigating the incident. A spokesman for

Nintendo Co said there was no link between its

game and the cartoon apart from use of characters.


The cartoon, "Pokemon", aired every Tuesday at

6.30 P.M, has an audience of millions of children

and is the most highly-rated programme in its time

slot.The offending episode, "Computer Warrior

Porigon", featured characters entering a computer

and fighting each other. The explosion was set off

by a "vaccine bomb" detonated to destroy a

computer virus.


The children all came down with the symptoms about

20 minutes into the 30-minute long animation.


Yukio Fukuyama, an expert on juvenile epilepsy,

said bright flashes of light and colour from a

television screen could trigger a phenomenon known

as "television epilepsy".


The Yomiuri newspaper quoted a doctor specialising

in epileptic fits as saying the symptoms were

similar to fits that some children are susceptible

to when they play video games.


Executives of TV Tokyo, the network which

broadcast the programme, said they had been

inundated with calls. "We have to find out all the

facts, and find out the actual medical

explanation," the executive said.





Subject:Principles of Spiritual Hypnosis

From: (Ed McClelland)

Date: 1998/10/10

Message-ID: <>

Newsgroups: alt.hypnosis


Russ- Spiritual Hypnotherapy is another tool for the toolbox.It is a

highly specialized area of hypnosis and IMO the most interesting.

Possession and Exorcisms are just parts of this very complex specialty.

I studied at UCSB with the leading authority: Peter Daniel Francuch,

Ph.D., he is from Czechoslovakia and does not disappoint.He has a

private practice in the L.A. area and teaches as well.If you have any

interest in the his book. Principles ofSpiritual

Hypnosis - by Peter Daniel Francuch, Ph.D. - ASIN:0939386003


Reply: Ed McClelland DeepTrance@WebTV.Net

Subject: Re: Dangers of Hypnosis "Mind Control"..?

From: (Ed McClelland)

Date: 1998/10/04

Message-ID: <>

Newsgroups: alt.hypnosis


Ref: Watkins, 1947 Anti-social compulsions induced under hypnotic

"trance". - Watkins, 1951 A case of hypnotic"trance" induced in a

resistant subject in spite of active opposition. - Austin, Campbell, &

Sutcliffe, 1963 Can somnambulists successfully simulate hypnotic

behavior without becoming entranced? Ambrose, 1973 Deepstates of

hypnosis: An introduction to hypnosynthesis. - Azuma &Stevenson, 1988

"Psychic surgery" in the Philippines as a form of group hypnosis. -

Angrell, 1969 A study of the post-hypnotically suggested color-blindness

and the spontaneous "trance" in connection with the execution of a

post-hypnotic suggestion. - Aaronson, 1967 Mystic and schizophreniform

states and the experience of depth. - Aaronson, 1969 Hypnosis,depth

perception and psychedelic experience. - Vingoe, 1969

Introversion-extroversion, attitudes toward hypnosis, and susceptibility

to the alert "trance". - Willard, 1974 Perpetual"trance" as a means of

controlling pain in the treatment of terminal cancer with hypnosis.

White, 1937 Two types of hypnotic "trance" and their personality

correlates. (Hypno-SECRET): Can the majority of people be FORCED into

"trance" against their will? Ans: YES!

Memory And Morphogenetic Fields

A controversial theory of how memory works
Originally published in IN CONTEXT #6, Summer 1984, Page 11
Copyright (c)1984, 1997 by Context Institute

by Robert Gilman


MEMORY AND LEARNING are intimately connected, both illustrating our capacity

to change and adapt on the basis of experience. In a previous article, I

made a distinction between "training," which involved the acquisition of a

new automatic skill, and simple recall, such as remembering the events of

the day. Both of them are a type of "memory,"but in this article I want to

focus on the simple recall process. We'll begin by reviewing some of the

general observable characteristics of memory, and then look at a promising,

but highly controversial proposal for how these might be explained.


In considering memory, it is helpful to begin by making a distinction

between retention and recall. Retention is the ability of the mind to take

in and store information while recall is the ability to bring a particular

piece of information back to conscious awareness. How good is our retention?

There is considerable evidence that our retention is much better than our

normal recall would lead us to expect - indeed we may retain all of our

experience. For example, under hypnosis, people regularly recall whole

chunks of their past with considerable detail. Likewise brain stimulation

experiments using tiny electrodes have enabled people to vividly relive

random previous experiences with great accuracy. The limiting factor in

"memory" thus seems to be recall.


Normal recall is aided by two main factors - uniqueness and associations.

For example, if you are asked to memorize a list of nonsense syllables and

one of them is made of numbers rather than letters, you will more easily

recall that "odd" one. Likewise, if you can associate a picture, a sound, an

idea, or a smell with any of those syllables, that too will make it easier

to recall. The importance of both uniqueness and associations is that they

allow a piece of information to be more easily distinguished from the mass

of potential memory.


One type of association - emotional - is particularly important.If the

emotion is positive, the stronger the emotion, the easier the recall, but if

the emotion is negative, the relationship is not so simple.Up to a point,

negative (or painful) emotions also enhance recall, but if the

unpleasantness associated with a particular memory is so strong that to

remember plunges you back into the experience of that emotion,your mind

will often try to prevent recall by erecting a block against that memory.

Your mind, however, can't do this by simply preventing recall of only that

memory. The problem is that such a precise block would be like a silhouette

- its precision would give away the memory it was attempting to hide. To be

effective, memory blocks need to cast a broad shadow that obscures not only

the particular painful memory, but also many of the associative trails that

could lead to it.


How do these general characteristics of memory translate to the level of the

brain and brain cells? That's one of the major unsolved puzzles of brain

research. As mentioned above, experiments with stimulating individual cells

in the neocortex have given rise to vivid memories, suggesting that specific

memories may be stored at specific locations in the brain.On the other

hand, patients with extensive damage to the neocortex have been able, over

time, to regain almost all of their memory. Likewise, extensive

experimentation with animals has failed to "locate"memory. These

difficulties led the brain researcher Karl Pribram to propose that memory is

somehow stored throughout the brain in complex interference patterns, the

way information is stored on a holographic picture. A hologram,you may

recall, is a special kind of photograph taken with the help of a laser. In

ordinary light it just shows a pattern of swirls, but whenre-illuminated by

the laser, the picture becomes a 3-dimensional recreation of the original

scene. If you break off a small corner of the original hologram, it too can

recreate the whole picture, but with a fuzzier focus. This all provides a

fascinating analogy for memory, but so far it hasn't led any further than



In the meantime, the puzzles about memory have grown even stranger. This

part of our story will take us to one of the most controversial frontiers of

current science, although it actually starts back in 1920 when W. McDougall,

a biologist at Harvard, began an experiment to see if animals (in this case

white rats) could inherit learning. The procedure was to teach the rats a

simple task (avoiding a lighted exit), record how fast they learned, breed

another generation, teach them the same task, and see howtheir rate of

learning compared with their elders. He carried the experiment through 34

generations and found that, indeed, each generation learned faster in flat

contradiction to the usual Darwinian assumptions about heredity. Such a

result naturally raised controversy, and similar experiments were run to

prove or disprove the result. The last of these was done by W.E. Agar at

Melbourne over a period of 20 years ending in 1954. Using the same general

breed of rats, he found the same pattern of results tha tMcDougall had but

in addition he found that untrained rats used as a control group also

learned faster in each new generation. (Curiously, he also found that his

first generation of rats started at the same rate of learning as McDougall's

last generation.) No one had a good explanation for why both trained and

untrained should be learning faster, but since this result did not support

the idea that learning was inherited, the biology community breathed a sigh

of relief and considered the matter closed.


There it stayed until 1981 when another biologist, Rupert Sheldrake,

proposed a radical new interpretation in his book, A New Science Of Life

(Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher, 1982). Sheldrake's larger concernwas with what

biologists have for years called "morphogenetic fields."Morphogenetic means

"giving birth to form," and some biologists hypothesized that, in order to

explain how plants and animals grow into the forms that they have, something

more than just the usual rules of physics and chemistry was needed. They

described this unknown something as a "morphogenetic field." Of course,

other biologists thought this was all hogwash and were convinced that an

appropriately detailed application of the rules of physics would explain all

of biology. In recent decades most biologists held this second position, but

Sheldrake may be changing all that.


What Sheldrake has done is threefold. He has linked the long standing

biological problems of form with similar problems in areas as diverse as

crystal growth and psychology. He has proposed plausible rules for how

morphogenetic fields might behave. And he has suggested how his theory could

be tested and shown how existing experiments, like the McDougall-Agar

series, support his theory.


To understand his theory, it helps to begin in the strange world of quantum

mechanics. At the beginning of this century it became clear that sub- atomic

particles - electrons, protons, x-rays, etc. - behave as if they are both

particles (bundles of mass/energy) and waves (spread in time and space). The

wave aspect carries no energy but strongly influences how the particle

aspect can behave. Translated into biologist's terms, the wave can be seen

as the morphogenetic field for the particle. Sheldrake takes this step and

then goes further to suggest that larger forms, like biological organisms,

have morphogenetic fields that are more than just the sum of their parts.

These fields carry no energy but influence (in perhaps the same way the

quantum fields do) the form the parts take as they come together.


The fields and the physical forms are intimately associated in that any

existing form gives rise to (in a sense radiates) a field that then

contributes to shaping subsequent similar forms. Sheldrake suggests that

these fields are not diminished by passage across time and space (since they

carry no energy), and that like gravitational fields, they only add to each

other. Thus every place is "filled" with the morphogenetic fields from all

past forms.


Earlier in our culture's history, the idea of all space being filled with

unseen information carrying fields would have seemed totally bizarre and

unbelievable. Indeed when Newton introduced the idea of the gravitational

field (another unseen entity whose existence can be detected only by its

effects on matter), many of his contemporaries found the idea too "unreal"

to be taken seriously, yet by now, with hundreds of channels of radio and TV

signals passing unseen around us every moment, we can more easily grasp how

morphogenetic fields might work.


How does some new form, for example molecules coming together to form a

crystal, choose which field to be influenced by? Sheldrake suggests that the

process is one of resonance, like tuning in a radio station.The parts that

are coming together resonate with the fields generatedby similar groups of

parts in the past. In complex systems, like biological organisms, this

tuning requires a "seed" or uniquely tuned starting point around which the

organism can form. The uniqueness of the DNA in each organism provides such

a seed.


The fields from similar forms will "overlap"to create a composite field

that is stronger, although fuzzier, than the field from each individual

form. In this process, newer forms can gradually dilute the importance of

older forms, and so there is an opportunity for composite fields to evolve

over time.


How does all this apply to memory and the McDougall-Agar experiments? Our

brains, like any other physical form, are constantly generating

morphogenetic fields, not only for the general form of the brain, but also

for each moment of our existence. Sheldrake suggests that this continuous

trail of experience - recorded in the morphogenetic fields- is at least

part of the basis for memory. We recall a past state by having some initial

pattern of associations that acts as a "seed,"allowing us to tune in that

particular memory. As the memory begins to be tuned in,it influences the

brain to fill in more of the pattern which, in a feed back process, improves

the resonance until the essential features of the past state are recreated

in the present. These ideas fit very well with the observation sthat

retention seems to be so complete and so effortless (we can't help leaving

our mental "morphogenetic trail"), and why multiple associations and

uniqueness aid recall (since these improve the precision of our tuning).


But the big implication of this approach is that memory is transpersonal.

These mental morphogenetic fields are not locked in your brain, but are

available throughout all space and all future time! From this perspective,

the results of the McDougall- Agar experiments become easily understood.

Each rat that learned the task gradually strengthened a morphogenetic field

associated with the correct choice. Later rats of the same breed placed in

the identical experimental setting could have a high degree of resonance

with the earlier rats regardless of whether their immediate parents had been

trained. Agar's rats started where McDougall's had left off because the

field had not been diminished by space or time. Some readers will likely

recognize this as an example of what is generally known as "the hundredth

monkey" phenomenon, but these experiments and Sheldrake's interpretation are

much more precise.


"Yet if memory is truly transpersonal," you may say, "why don't I remember

other people's thoughts?" The answer to this is two-fold.First, you

naturally resonate most strongly with your own past states,so most people

find that their clear, detailed memories are from their own past. The other

part is that we often don't recognize (or acknowledge) the transpersonal

aspects in what we remember, yet if we look from Sheldrake's perspective,

there is a great deal in our thinking and behavior that suggests a

transpersonal influence. Most people have at one time or another had the

experience of "reading" another person's mind,which can be seen as an

immediate tuning into the morphogenetic field created by that other person.

During the past few decades, experiences of this kind have been studied with

greater and greater experimental control, all indicating that at least some

of these experiences represent a genuine transfer of information from one

mind to another by some means other than the usual modes of communication.

Some of the best of these experiments are the "remote viewing " experiments

carried out at the Stanford Research Institute by Russell Targ and others

(see The Mind Race by Russell Targ and Keith Harary (NewYork: Villard Books

1984) available for $17 from The Institute of Noetic Sciences,2658

Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965).


Yet beyond these "unusual" experiences, we need to realize that tuning into

a morphogenetic field is not as simple or direct as looking at a snapshot.

The field may carry a certain pattern, but our own minds interact with that

pattern, translating it into our own terms. Thus the behavior patterns that

MacLean identifies as occurring in essentially all land animals must have

strong but fuzzy composite fields associated with them,leaving room for

variation. Likewise, fields that are attuned to by one of the lower levels

in our brain - like the reptilian - occur at a level where we are not

normally conscious, so we don't experience our "instinctive territoriality "

as a "remembering." Jean Houston's exercise in the previous article can be

seen as a way to make that remembering more conscious.


A further example of composite morphogenetic fields acting as a

transpersonal memory is in what Jung described as the "collective

unconscious." As has now been well documented, certain symbols and

archetypal patterns occur in dreams, art, and other forms of expression

around the world and throughout history - often in ways that can't be

explained by cultural diffusion or learned behavior. Complex

species-specific instincts may also depend on composite morphogenetic

fields. If this is true, then these patterns are not fixed,but are like

habits - persistent from all the strength of repetition that has built the

field, but nevertheless open to change through learning.


If memory is indeed transpersonal, does this mean thatwe don't need to go

through the effort of learning? Can we just "tune in " to what others already

know? It is not quite that simple. You have to have thebasic elements of a

pattern already available in your mind before you can tune to that pattern -

the more detailed the pattern the richer your preparation needs to be.

Remember too that some learning involves growth and permanent change in the

brain. Likewise, the later generations of McDougall-Agarrats still had to

train to learn the task even though they learned faster.The best method

seems to be to approach the learning process from two directions at the same

time. On the one hand, the learner needs to be immersed in those experiences

that will build up the necessary elements on which the learning is based. On

the other, the learner can benefit from activities that help him/her to

attune to the existing field. Intriguingly, most of these seem to involve

the "broad brush stroke" fast pattern recognition capacity of the right



The picture of the brain that emerges from all this is best described as a

combination computer- broadcaster-receiver. Much of our processing depends

on patterns that are "wired" into the nervous system, yet most of our

detailed memory is not stored in the brain but rather "read"- in and out -

from the surrounding fields. It may make sense to describe our "minds" as

comprising this whole system which suggests that each mind is a curious

blend of the personal and the transpersonal, the unique and the universal.

We are each parallel processors, receiving from and giving to the composite

field of the mind of, not only humanity but through the many levels in our

brain, all life.


Sheldrake's theory is still in a very early stage of its development, and it

is still a "minority point of view" within the sciences although support for

it is steadily growing. (Curiously, he is finding physicists,who have

learned to be comfortable with strange fields, more open to his ideas than

biologists.) Like all theories, it is at best a working hypothesis, and it

will no doubt go through changes as it is either disproved or it matures.

Its implications are enormous, but Sheldrake cautions against going too far

out on a speculative limb until some of the basic premises are somewhat

better verified experimentally (although experiments now underway are

yielding positive results). I would agree, although some speculation is

useful for clarifying the theory, and my own sense is that this theory

provides our best current working hypothesis for understanding the mysteries

of memory. The prospects are exciting, and we may well find that the

exploration of morphogenetic fields play a role in the 21st century similar

to the exploration of electromagnetism in this century (which led to global

communications and computers with all of their implications).We have much

to learn, but for the moment, let's look at what it might be like to be

living in a changing morphogenetic field.


If you want to find out more about Sheldrake's theory,and aren't ready to

tackle his book (which is really quite readable), I recommend the interview

by Daniel Drasin published in the Vol. V, No. 5 issue of New Realities



All contents copyright (c)1984, 1997 by Context Institute

Please send comments to

Last Updated 10 February 1997.




Concerning the movie "The Manchurian Candidate"(starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Janet Leigh, who played Marion Crane in "Psycho"): the film deals with the secret science of"brainwashing", Mind Control, or behaviour modification, begunsome time in the forties (or even earlier, perhaps) and directed above alltowards the creation of the "sleeper" assassin, or programmedkiller. (That the film comes dangerously close to an accurate portrayalof this science is evidenced by the fact that it was banned for over 20years.)

Famous real-life sleeper assassins include Charles Whitman,David Berkowitz (Son of Sam), Sirhan Sirhan, Bernard Goetz (possibly, throught here's no real hard evidence), John Hinckley Jr, and a whole host of nameless berserker "spray and pray" shooters, running amok in schoolyards and MacDonalds and whathaveyou, in places as diverse as USA, Australia and Scotland. (One thing these random lunatics had in common, besides an improbably large arsenal: they were all proscribed Prozac users!)

Perhaps the two most notorious of these zombie assassins are Charles Manson and Mark Chapman, both of whom bear the tell-tale initials of an M.C. It is illuminating to note how both Manson and Chapman, as well as Hinckley, shared apparent "artistic" obsessions: Manson with the White Album (he believed the Beatles were sending him messages enciting him to start his "Helter Skelter" war of blacks and whites);

Chapman with Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye",which he was carrying at the time he shot Lennon; and Hinckley, perhapsmore appropriately, with the film "Taxi Driver" (he claimed tohave shot Reagan out of love for Jodie Foster, who plays the 12-year old hooker, Iris, in the film).

For the creation of a sub- or alternate personality in the "candidate", one of the most effective tools (besides saturation with mind-altering chemicals, lack of sleep, starvation, torture, and bombardment with light/sound waves) is a given art-work that serves, effectively, toobsess the subject, and provide him with a fantasy reality in which hispsychosis can grow and develop.

As artists is one thing the boys at MK-ULTRA (note initials) are definitely NOT, it behooves them to rely on existing works for the indoctrinage of this surrogate, mythic quasi-reality in which the deranged killer maycome into existence. Hence, when the "trigger" is activated (having already been inculcated while in hypnotic trance - in the MC movie, this trigger was a Queen of Diamonds playing card), the M.C's other personalitytakes over, he enters into the surrogate reality, and believes he is actingout his own obsessions (doing it for Jodie or the Beatles or whatever),when in fact he is merely following the obscure and sinister designs ofothers. Hence the "cover story" as such is impeccable: even the killer himself believes it!

The purposes of this murky, apparently globally prevalent agenda (Chapman and Hinckley both worked for "World Vision", anM.C "factory", ostensibly the intelligence wing of the Peace Corps)are, of course, myriad manifest and mysterious. Above all (and beyond theobvious end of persuading US citizens to surrender their arms), it seemsto be to convince us of the complete and utter, irredeemably violent andaberrational nature of humanity, both individually and en masse, to create,in a word, a world of raving psychos that can explode at any moment, andwithout apparent motive: what I have called - a utopia of assassins. Adolf Hitler would have been proud. The "M.C" factor is i admit a merecuriosity at this time, but also perhaps a clue: anyone who has any additionalcorrespondences, or ideas on the subject, can contact me at CROW.



Ancient history: Pre-History to Mid-18th Century Shamans,religious rituals, sweat lodge ceremonies, music, drumming, chanting, drugsand meditation

Modern History: Mid- 18th Century to Present

One thing that will become apparent in the following is that many of those we consider to be pioneers in the field of hypnosis were frequently dismissed their peers. Even though many proved to be very successful healers.

Franz Anton Mesmer was born in Vienna. Mesmer is considered the father of hypnosis. He is remembered for the term Mesmerism which described a process of inducing trance through a series of passes he made with his hands and/or magnets over people. He worked with a person's animal magnetism (psychic and electromagnetic energies). The medical community eventually discredited him despite his considerable success treating a variety of ailments.

1795-1860 James Braid, an English physician, originally opposed mesmerism (as it became to be known) but then became interested.He said that cures were not due to animal magnetism however but to suggestion.He developed the eye fixation technique (also know as Braidism) of inducing relaxation and called it hypnosis (after Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep)as he thought the phenomenon was a form of sleep. Later, realizing his error,he tried to change the name to monoeidism (meaning, influence of a singleidea) however, the original name stuck.

Jean Marie Charcot, a French neurologist, disagreed with the Nancy School of Hypnotism and contended that hypnosis was simply a manifestation of hysteria. There was bitter rivalry between Charcot and the Nancy group (Liebault and Bernheim). He revived Mesmer's theory of Animal Magnetismand identified the three stages of trance; lethargy, catalepsy and somnambulism.     

1845 - 1947 Pierre Janet was a French neurologist and psychologist who was, initially, opposed to the use of hypnosis until he discovered its relaxing effects and promotion of healing. Janet was one of the few people who continued to show an interest in hypnosis during the psychoanalyitic rage.

1849-1936 Ivan Petrovich Pavlov - Russian physiologist who actually was more focused on the study of the digestive process. He is known primarily for his development of the concept of the conditioned reflex (or Stimulus Response Theory). In his classic experiment, he trained hungry dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell, which was previously associated with the sight of food. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology in 1904 for his work on digestive secretions. Though he had nothing to do with hypnosis his Stimulus Response Theory is a cornerstone in linking and anchoring behaviors, particularly in NLP.

1857 - 1926 Emile Coue`, a physician formulated the Laws of Suggestion. He is also known for encouraging his patients to say to themselves 20-30 times each night before going to sleep, "Everyday in every way,I am getting better and better." He also discovered that delivering positive suggestions when prescribing medication proved to be a more effective cure than prescribing medications alone. He eventually abandoned the conc ept of hypnosis in favor of just using suggestion, feeling hypnosis and the hypnotic state impaired the efficiency of the suggestion. Coue's Laws of Suggestion

* The Law of Concentrated Attention "Whenever attention is concentrated on an idea over and over again, it spontaneously tends to realize itself" The Law of Reverse Action "The harder one triesto do something, the less chance one has of success" The Law of Dominant Effect "A stronger emotion tends to replace a weaker one"

1856-1939 - Sigmund Freud traveled to Nancy and studied with Liebault and Bernheim, and then did additional study with Charcot.Freud did not incorporate hypnosis in his therapeutic work however because he felt he could not hypnotize patients to a sufficient depth, felt that the cures were temporary, and that hypnosis stripped patients of their defenses.Freud was considered a poor hypnotist given his paternal. However, his clients often went into trance and he often, unknowingly performed non-verbal ind uctions when he would place his hand on his patient's head to signify the Doctor dominant, patient submissive roles. Because of his early dismissal of hypnosis in favor of psychoanalysis, hypnosis was almost totally ignored.

1875-1961 - Carl Jung, a student and colleague of Freud's,rejected Freud's psychoanalytical approach and developed his own interests.He developed the concept of the collective unconscious and archetypes. Though he did not actively use hypnosis he encouraged his patients to use active imagination to change old memories. He often used the concept of the innerguide, in the healing work. He believed that the inner mind could be accessed through tools like the I Ching and astrology. He was rejected by the conservative medical community as a mystic. However, many of his ideas and theories are actively embraced by healers to this day 1932-1974 - Milton Erickson, a psychologist and psychiatrist pioneered the art of indirect suggestion in hypnosis. He is considered the father of modern hypnosis. His methods by passed the conscious mind through the use of both verbal and nonverbal pacing techniques including metaphor, confusion, and many others. He was a colorful character and has immensely influenced the practice of contemporary hypnotherapy,and its official acceptance by the AMA. His work, combined with the workof Satir and Perls, was the basis for Bandler and Grinder's Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

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RobertTodd Carroll, searching for memory, the brain, the mind, and the past by Daniel Schacter

New York: Basic Books, 1996

There is scarcely a human activity which is not affected by memory. To overestimate the importance of Refuge studies on memory seems impossible. Yet, all too often, we take memory for granted and make assumptions about memory without knowing whether our beliefs are based on fact or myth.Most of us can be excused for our ignorance, since studies of memory rarely attract the attention of the mass media. There are some notable exceptions,such as the "Memory Wars", as Schacter refers to the battle over recovered repressed memories of alien abductions or of childhood abuse and murder. Daniel Schacter makes accessible to the general reader the background information necessary to make sense of the "Memory Wars." (He devotes an entire chapter to the issue.) He provides an invaluable map of where we are in the quest to understand one of the most fundamental properties of the human mind. And he dispels a few myths along the way.

Some readers might be disappointed to find out that we don't really know how memory works. There is no universally agreed upon model of the mind/brain, and no universally agreed upon model of how memory works. Two models popular with materialists, the behaviorist model and that of cognitive psychology (the brain as computer), are rejected by Schacter because they cannot account for the subjective and present-need basis of memory. Lest dualists get their hopes up, Schacter's concern for a model which does justice to subjectivity has nothing to do with a concern fora "transcendental unity of apperception" or a "self"to be distinguished from the self's memories. Subjectivity in remembering,he says, involves at least three important factors. One, memories are constructions made in accordance with present needs, desires, influences, etc. Two, memories are often accompanied by feelings and emotions. Three, memory usually involves the rememberer's awareness of the memory. A good model of how memory works must not only fit with scientific knowledge but also fit with the subjective nature of memory.

In chapter two, "Building Memories," Schacter presents a sketch of a model which incorporates elements of both a neurological and a psychological model of memory. He notes that there should only be one correct neurological model (N-model), a model of how the brain and neural network function in memory, a descriptive model of functions and causal connections. But there may be several psychological models (P-models) of memory, though each of them must be true to the N-model, as well as to subject ive experience, to be adequate. P-models are explanatory models, trying to help us make sense out of the experiences of remembering and forgetting.

For example, one P-model sees memory as a present act of consciousness, reconstructive of the past, stimulated by an analogue ofan engram called the "retrieval cue." The engram is the neural network representing fragments of past experience. Schacter elaborates throughout his book on studies supporting the notion that memories are reconstructions of the past and might better be thought of as a collage or a jigsaw puzzle than as "tape recordings," "pictures" or "videoclips" stored as wholes. On this model, perceptual or conscious experience does not record all sense data experienced. Most sense data is not storedat all. What is stored are rather bits and fragments of experience which are encoded in engrams. Exactly how they are encoded is not completely understood,but what progress has been made in understanding the complexities of neural encoding is set out by Schacter in various chapters. For example, he discusses Wilder Penfield's experiments done in the 1950's which involved placing electrodes on the surface of the exposed temporal lobes of patients. Hewas able to elicit "memories" in 40 of 520 patients. Many psychologists(and lay people) refer to these experiments as proof that memories are stored in specific places and that even though we may not remember much of ourpast, the right stimulus would evoke a memory of things long forgotten.In a survey of psychologists by Loftus and Loftus, 84% said they believeevery experience is permanently stored in the mind. [p. 76] Maybe so, but Schacter points out that the Penfield experiments are not very good evidencefor this belief. Not only could Penfield only elicit "memories"in about 1 out of every 8 patients, he did not provide support for the claim that what was elicited was actually a memory and not a hallucination, fantasyor confabulation.

Other studies indicate that encoding involves various connections between different parts of the brain. In fact, what is being discovered is that there are distinct types and elements of memory which involve different parts of the brain. I will not attempt to report on any of those discoveries here, but the reader should be prepared to take a journey inside the brain.I will say, however, that Schacter does an excellent job of not getting over technical or burdening the reader with extraneous jargon. There is alot of jargon used in his discussions of neuroscience and psychology, but in my view it is neither burdensome nor unneeded.

On the P-model described in the previous paragraph, forgetting is due either to weak encoding, to lack of a retrieval cue, to time and the replacement in the neural network by later experiences, to repetitive experiences (you'll remember the one special meal you had at a special restaurant,but you won't remember what you had for lunch a year ago Tuesday), or to keep us from going crazy. (Imagine never forgetting anything, actually achieving the stated goal of L. Ron Hubbard's dianetics: reaching the state of "the clear." His followers should read Jorge Luis Borges "Funes, the Memorious," a story about such a being.) The chances of remembering something improve by "consolidation," creating strong encoding.Thinking and talking about an experience enhances the chances of rememberingit. One of the more well-known techniques of remembering involves the processof association. For example, today I attended a meeting which involved adiscussion of security procedures. The phone number extension of the campus police was given. Such a number is easy to remember if associations are made. Most of us can remember a phone number long enough to dial it, butwhen you want to remember a phone number, even a 4-digit extension, sixmonths or a year from now without ever having dialed the number, the taskgets more difficult. In this case, the number is 2365. All our campus extensionsbegin with 2, so I only need to remember 3 digits. In this case, the three digits, 365, is the number of days in a year. Thus, if I reinforce the association with the days of the year--by occasionally reminding myself of the association when I look at the calendar--I think I'll remember the extension of the campus police a year or even five years from now.

The daily amnesia most of us suffer, awakening after anight of dreams but unable to remember any of them, is a bit more complex but weak encoding is at work here, too. Most of us can remember a dream which occurred just before awakening, but find that later in the day we've lost all memory of the dream. To remember dreams, some suggest that youget up immediately and write down the dream. An easier method is to stayin bed and create some associations. The easiest association is to give your dream a title and a purposive description. I tried this for a few nights and found that I could remember the title and the dream later in the day.I began writing the title of the dream down and then a brief descriptionof what I thought the dream suggested. For example, I entitled one dream"The Mailbox" and described it's purpose as "write to J.B."That little bit of information serves as a retrieval cue and I can now remember the dream: I am standing in front of a large number of mailboxes, the type they have at post offices or in department mail rooms. Next to me is a friend I've known since grammar school but haven't seen in ten or fifteen years.I notice that his brother also has a mailbox and indicate my surprise that is on the staff, too. My friend and I are obviously colleagues in the dream. J.B. says to me that R. isn't really on the staff; he works at the Shell gasoline station. The dream occurred during the Christmas holidays.I used to hear from J.B. at Christmas time...usually one of those form letters telling us about the kids, etc., but I haven't heard from him in several years. I took my dream to reflect some sort of uneasiness about the lack of communication between an old friend and myself and as a suggestion to write J.B. a letter and reestablish communication. (I have no idea whatthe part about his brother and the Shell station means. I knew his brother fairly well and there's no chance I was connecting the news stories aboutShell executives being racists and J.B.'s brother. No one in J.B.'s familywas bigoted or prejudiced to my knowledge.) Anyway, the point is that I have little doubt that I would have completely forgotten the dream if Ihad not given it a title and a description and then later on wrote downboth and tried to recall the details. (I must admit that I had forgotten the dream and the details until I looked at my notes which contain onlythe five words mentioned above. If I had written to J.B., I doubt that Iwould have forgotten the dream, for that activity would have been one more element of elaborate encoding of the memory.)

Of more interest than my dream is the discussion of Jonathan Winson's theory that during REM sleep, the brain is consolidating and strengthening some memories while discarding others. The hippocampus may be playing back experiences to various cortical regions where it will eventually be permanently stored. [p. 88]

In addition to dream amnesia, Schacter has much to say about other kinds of amnesia, including the kinds of cases which neurologist Oliver Sacks is famous for writing about. The effects of alcohol, brain injuries and physical or psychological traumas on memory are exemplified with case studies such as the Russian scientist who could remember his childhood but not his recent past. (He'd written an autobiography, so the accuracy of his childhood memories could be checked.) There is also the case of psychogenic amnesia of a man Schacter calls Lumberjack. He was a young man who didn't know who he was, who was found wandering the streets of Toronto. He couldnot remember anything of his past except the word Lumberjack and a few other details from a period in his life about one year prior to when he was found.He was in what psychiatrists call a fugue state. His amnesia had been triggered by his grandfather's death and was spontaneously cleared up while watching a television program depicting a funeral and a cremation.

One type of amnesia, what Schacter calls limited amnesia,is quite common. Limited amnesia occurs in people who suffer a severe physical or psychological trauma and are unable to remember the event. Several such cases are described by Schacter as he explores the possibility of a link between the different kinds of experiences which result in limited amnesia,as well as the connection between trauma-induced amnesia and the unconscious mind.

On the amnesia claimed for repressed memories, which has become popular with certain therapists in recent years, Schacter devotes a whole chapter. Repressed memory therapists have failed to provide an adequate model of memory to account for what they claim is happening in repression.The idea that all of us have memories we can't access, but which are causing mental and physical illnesses, is a popular one. The idea that some experiences are so traumatic that as a defense mechanism we suppress the thought of such experiences has been repeated so often as to be considered a fact by many people. But is it? Schacter does not think so. The scientific evidence for repression is weak. Even weaker is the evidence that specific disorders are caused by repression of specific kinds of experiences, such as the experience of sexual abuse. Unlike cases of amnesia which involve alcohol, drugs, brain injury or disease, or psychological trauma, the cases involving repressed memories often center around whether or not the patient really suffers from amnesia. The repressed memory therapists seem to start with the assumption that most of their patients suffer from amnesia, but the amnesia is very specific and always involves just the kind of thing most people would remember.On the other hand, there are cases where the amnesia is not in doubt, and the evidence indicates that some sort of implicit memory exists which is troubling to the amnesiac. Schacter notes the case of a rape victim who could not remember the rape which took place on a brick pathway. The wordsbrick and path kept popping into her mind, but she did not connect them to the rape. And she became very upset when taken back to the scene of the rape, though she didn't remember what had happened there. [p. 232]

One of the more interesting areas of discussion in the "Memory Wars" is that of memory distortion. The distortion can be a distortion of attitude, whereby a present mood or emotion invades a memory and imbues it with one's present emotive state even though the original experience was not colored by the same mood. (This is the obverse of trying to put yourself in a good mood by remembering some pleasant experiences from the past.) The distortion might be of the content, especially source distortion. E.g., you're robbed. The police show you a photo of a man and ask is this the man. You say that you're not sure. Later, in a line-up you positively identify the robber, who turns out to be the man whose photoyou had been shown. It turns out that he could not have robbed you, becausehe was in jail at the time you were robbed. Your memory was distorted bythe photo; you remembered the robber but the source was not your perception while being robbed, it was your perception of the photo shown to you by the police. Studies on source memory (recalling precisely when and wherean event occurred) indicate that such distortion is not uncommon. Distortions can also be caused by making assumptions or drawing inferences which creep into our encoding and associations. [ch. 4]

Memory distortion is dramatically exemplified by Schacter in a simple experiment. Pay attention to the following series of words:candy, sour, sugar, bitter, good, taste, tooth, nice, honey, soda, chocolate,heart, cake, eat, and pie. After looking at the list, turn away and write down all the words you can remember from the list.

Now take the following test. consider the three words printed in italics at the end of this sentence and, without looking back to the previous paragraph, try to remember whether they appeared on the list....taste,point, sweet. [p. 103]

Between 80-90 percent of those tested by Schacter in the"sweet experiment" claim erroneously that sweet was on the original list. Many not only believe sweet was on the list, they claim to remember it vividly. Amnesic patients, on the other hand, made many fewer false recognitions than did healthy subjects. "This is because the amnesic patients did not successfully encode and retain the gist of the studied words. False recognition of sweet requires accurate retention of the general meaning of the words on the target list, which in turn depends on the hippocampus and other medial temporal lobe structures that are damaged in amnesic patients."[p. 104] But getting the gist of something does not guarantee that the details are remembered accurately. The implications of memory distortion can be enormous and are discussed at length by Schacter.

Schacter also takes up the issues of memory in children.If not misled, they give generally accurate info, though they have particularly poor source memory, perhaps due to their immature and undeveloped frontal lobes. [p. 128] He reminds us again and again of the fragility of memory and how it is often accompanied by an inappropriate feeling of absolute certainty. My favorite story here is the one regarding John Dean, President Nixon's White House counsel who was part of the Watergate coverup. Dean testified for days, giving enormous amounts of details to meetings that took place many months before his testimony. He seemed a veritable treasure trove of Watergate data. However, when the infamous tapes were discovered and played back, a comparison of what was actually said at the meetings and what Dean remembered as having been said, did not match up very well when it came to details. Hardly any of the details Dean testified to were correct, though he remembered general events pretty well, probably aidedby his notes. [pp. 111-112]

Hypnosis and memory is another topic Schacter takes up.Studies on hypnosis show that hypnosis does nothing to enhance the accuracy of memory. Highly hynotizable people are vulnerable to creating illusory memories when given suggestions. Hypnosis, he says, "creates a retrieval environment that increases a person's willingness to call just about any mental experience a 'memory'." [p. 108] Hypnosis heightens a person's subjective confidence in the veracity and accuracy of memories, however.The distorting power of hypnosis over memory has been documented since Freud,but recent studies show that those hypnotized have fewer illusory memories when either (1) they have a poor rapport with the hypnotist; (2) when the subject is given an incentive to carefully distinguish between real and imaginary events and (3) when the subject is led to believe he or she will be able to make such distinctions when hypnotized.

There are many other topics which Schacter takes up. An entire chapter is devoted to the role of emotions in memory. Fascinating case studies are presented of people whose memories are like visions and direct and control their lives. He presents the results of his own studiesin implicit memory (memory without awareness) and "priming," and the practical applications of those studies for developing programs usinga "vanishing-cues procedure" for training brain damaged amnesiacs.[ch. 6] There are discussions throughout the book on various types of memory from the familiar short-term vs. long-term memory to distinctions betweenimplicit/explicit memory; semantic/procedural/episodic memory; field/observer memory; lifetime/general event/event-specific memories; and more. Conceptssuch as "flashbacks", deja vu, and removing the effort to remememberto help remember something, are discussed, as is the topic of amnesia and dissociation (multiple personalities or dissociative identity disorder).In fact, the only topic not covered that I expected to be covered was "photographic memory."

Schacter has something to say to who wish to improve their memories and those who fear losing their memories as they grow old. You'll have to read the book to find out whether it would be worthwhile to invest in one of those memory courses advertised on infomercials. I'll only note that studies showed that people who could remember long lists of numbersby associating the numbers with familiar experiences or knowledge, couldnot carry over this ability to non-numerical tasks. As for the fear of losing memory with age, Schacter devotes his tenth and final chapter to the topic of aging and memory. I won't reveal what he says, but he does give this bit of advice: if you forget where you put your car keys, don't worry. If you forget you own a car, worry.

Finally, the book is illustrated throughout with works of art whose subject matter is some aspect of memory. Schacter collects such art and links the work of artists to that of scientists in an interesting and generally illuminating way.

Bob Carroll

January 18, 1997

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further reading repressed memory therapy The entry on The Skeptic's Dictionary discusses chapter nine, "The Memory Wars,"of Searching for Memory. Daniel L. Schacter's Homepage Reviews of Searching for Memory

Memory Distortion: How Minds, Brains and Societies Reconstruct the Past, ed. by Daniel Schacter rt. al. (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1995). Review 

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Robert Todd Carroll The Skeptic's Refuge

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