WHENEVER we recognise something, it is always because we are making a pattern-match between what is out there and an internally stored mental pattern. With the shape of a familiar beer bottle, for example, the image we see is pattern-matched to the stored template for the bottle in our memory.
Ordinarily, this process is automatic and we don’t consciously register it. We only become conscious of the process when we see a bottle in an unexpected context – decorating a flowerbed, for example – or if it is ambiguous in some way, as when a realistic trompe-l’oeil painting of it fools you for a moment into thinking you are looking at a real bottle. Whenever such things happen we momentarily switch off our awareness of the outside world and, in our imagination, experience comparing the information coming in from the stimulus to the memory pattern we hold of the bottle and wondering if the pattern-match is sufficiently good.
All learning invariably involves such uncertainty. So when we learn
something, we access our imagination in the REM state and experience and introspect about the pattern-match – in other words, since hypnosis is the word used to describe any artificial means of accessing the REM state (where attention is focused in the imaginative mind), this means that all learning is post-hypnotic.
This, and associated aspects of hypnosis, are covered in our new book.