Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Altered States of Mind

[From David Dingee] This was presented to an interactive audience at the Philosophy Club of The Villages, FL on Nov. 7, 2014. Download the PowerPoint Show by clicking HERE.
This presentation looks at various states of the mind apart from the “norm”. The information about such states as sleeping, dreaming, hypnosis and meditation were selected for the presentation because they have considerable importance in our lives.  However, despite much research and accumulated information these states of the mind still appear to be poorly understood.

The presentation considers a cross-section of the information available to support various hypotheses of how the mind works in each of the selected mind-states.  It appears that the work of Sigmund Freud underpins much of the conjecture using his “iceberg” analogy which sets the conscious mind, the normal cognitive/action state, as the top of the otherwise submerged mass with two levels under water. The first submerged level is depicted as the sub-conscious mind, the active memory bank, and the lower submerged level being the unconscious mind, the “forgotten “or unwelcome  memories.

It is proposed that sleep and dreams provide a means for the individual to access that deep-seated unconscious memory bank to address concerning issues in an acceptable format, thereby relieving potential future stresses. Similarly, some academicians believe hypnosis is also a means to access the unconscious mind for therapeutic hypnosis treatments.

The presentation also addressed meditation as a therapeutic method to relive anxieties and to resolve a number of physical stressors. The method described was “Transcendental Meditation” which was made popular by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi following the apparent beneficial meditation visits by the “Beatles” in the late 1960’s. It is believed to work by the meditator reaching a “dreamless sleep” state of mind wherein the brain releases beneficial hormones which help the body..

Several rarely recognized features of sleep were identified. Some animals can operate with as few as 2 hours of sleep; some can operate with half their brains sleeping while having full cognizance of their environment.  Sleep deprivation by humans from a few days to a month were reported.  The consequences were generally very unhealthy, demonstrating the strong connection between mind and body.

The meeting presentation was followed by questions from, and discussion by, the audience.  A key question was whether hypnosis would be effective in treating Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD).  The answer is that there has been reported success.

David Dingee

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