Wednesday, July 18, 2018
  Consensus Trance  
An automated state of consciousness
hypnosis


The term – Consensus Trance – was coined by American psychologist Charles T. Tart

An automated state of consciousness; actually, the normal consciousness, based on the premise that people believe what they are told to be true as opposed to what they have themselves realized to be true.

Becoming "normal", a fully-fledged member of your culture, involves a selected shaping:

  • Development of approved ("natural", "godly", "polite", "civil") identities and
  • Inhibition of disapproved ("evil", "criminal", "delinquent", "disrespectful") ones.

While it might be possible to role-play these, without internalizing them, this is difficult for most people.

  • From a culture's point of view, it is far better if your everyday mind, the habitual, automatised way you think and feel, is shaped to reflect the culture's consensus beliefs and values.
  • Then you will automatically perceive the right perceptions and interpretations, think, behave and feel "normally", for the best survival of the culture.
Introduction
charles tart
Charles Tart


What if we're all in a trance, and have been given hypnotic suggestions to ignore the evidence that we are in a trance? As we stumble around, bedazzled, enormous machines eat the earth. How would we treat people who try to tell us that we need to wake up?

Ask Charley Tart, Ph.D. As Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis, where he has taught, conducted research, and written books for the past 26 years, Charles Tart, Ph.D., qualifies as a tweedcoat and even a whitecoat. He is a member in good standing of the science cult, and his down to earth, low-key presentation lends an unexpected insider punch to his statements about the science cult's blind spots — and every human's blind spots.

He thinks of himself as a scientist, not a guru, working in a field that is underpopulated despite it's importance. It is underpopulated because research into consciousness is dangerous to an experimental psychologist's career, and because it isn't easy to do the kind of research that can get the attention of the orthodoxy. Tart's most recent book is Waking Up: Overcoming the Obstacles to Human Potential. [...] You can contact Dr. Tart via his website contact form.

Charley Tart on Consensus Trance:

<SLAP> <SLAP> Wake up!

States of consciousness, from altered states to the state earthlings call "normal waking consciousness," have been Charley Tart's specialty for two decades. Surprisingly, Dr. Tart no longer calls it "normal consciousness," and has substituted what he feels to be a more accurate term: consensus trance. To him, the idea of "normal consciousness" is the kind of convenient fiction illustrated by the famous folktale of "the emperor's new clothes." Together, human groups agree on which of their perceptions should be admitted to awareness (hence, consensus), then they train each other to see the world in that way and only in that way (hence trance).

In the 1960s, Tart's groundbreaking scientific articles about hypnosis and dreams appeared in psychological journals, and in 1969 he published a collection of scientific articles, Altered States of Consciousness, bringing together laboratory studies of yogins, analysis of the brain-waves of Zenmasters, research into hypnotically induced dreams, lucid dreams, mutual hypnosis, and other borderlands of human consciousness that were beginning to attract scientific attention.

By his account, Charles Tart's childhood interest in his own vivid dream life — a wondrous realm that everybody around him declared to be "unreal" — was a factor in his decision to become a psychologist. Each night, in the dream state, he discovered as all children do that he could visit magical kingdoms and do all manner of miraculous things. And like all children, when he told his parents about these dreams he was reminded that such experiences are "figments of the imagination." If all his nocturnal adventures were not considered to be legitimate reality to the adults he told about his dreams, what was so special about being awake that made it more real? And why do people, when awake, seem oblivious of the existence of that other, magical realm of dream consciousness?

Experimental psychology was the vehicle Tart chose to pursue his questions about consciousness and reality. Although much of his early research involved dreaming, he was attracted to the mysterious altered state of consciousness known as hypnosis. Tart learned from his earliest experiences as a hypnotist that reality can be influenced far more strongly by one's state of mind than most people suspect, most of the time:

"In inducing hypnosis I would sit down with a volunteer who wanted to be hypnotized," Tart recalled. "We were presumably both normal people. With our eyes we presumably saw the same room around us that others saw; with our ears we presumably heard the ordinary sounds in the room. We smelled what odors were there and felt the solidity of the real objects in the room."

"Then I began to talk to the subject. Researchers give the style of talking the special name of 'hypnotic induction procedure,' but basically it was just talking. The subject was given no drugs, was not in a special environment, had nothing external done to his brain — and yet in twenty minutes I could drastically change the universe he lived in. With a few words, the subject could not lift his arm. With a few more he heard voices talking when no one was there. A few more words and he could open his eyes and see something that no one else could see, or, with the right suggestion, a real object in plain sight in the room would be invisible to him."

How can anybody distinguish, then, between dream, hypnotic trance, and reality? Dehypnotization, the procedure of breaking out of the normal human state of awareness, according to both mystics and hypnotists, is a matter of direct mental experience. The method can be learned, and that's the nutshell description of the esoteric wisdom of the ages.

The clues from hypnosis research, experiments into the influence of beliefs upon perceptions, and teachings from the mystical traditions, led Tart to see how normal waking consciousness is the product of a true hypnotic procedure that is practiced by parents, teachers, and peers, reinforced by every social interaction, and maintained by powerful taboos. Consensus trance induction Ñ the process of learning the "normal waking" state of mind — is involuntary, and occurs under conditions that give it far more power than ordinary hypnotists are ever allowed. When infants are first subjected to the processes that induce consensus trance, they are all vulnerable and dependent upon their consensus hypnotists, for their parents are the ones who initiate them into the rules of their culture, according to the instructions that had been impressed upon them by their own parents, teachers, and peers.

Among the techniques prohibited to ethical hypnotists but wielded effectively in the induction of consensus trance are: the enormous amount of time devoted to the induction (years to a lifetime), the use of physical force, emotional force, love and validation, guilt, and the instinctive trust children have for their parents. As they learn myriad versions of 'the right way to do things' — and the things not to do — from their parents, children build and continue to maintain a mental model of the world, a filter on their reality lens that they learn to perceive everything through (except partially in dreams). The result leaves most people in an automatized daze. "It is a fundamental mistake of man's to think that he is alive, when he has merely fallen asleep in life's waiting room," is the way Idries Shah, a contemporary exponent of ancient Middle Eastern mystical psychologies, put it (Seeker After Truth, Octagon Press, 1982).

If humans are indeed on the verge of realizing that we are caught in illusions while thinking we are perceiving reality, how do we propose to escape? The answer, Tart has concluded, could come in the form of "mindfulness training " — a variety of exercises for elevating awareness by deliberately paying closer-than-usual attention to the mundane details of everyday life. Gurdjieff called it "self-remembering," and many flavors of psychotherapist, East and West, use it. Mindfulness is a skill that can be honed by the right approach to what is happening right in front of you: "Be here now" as internal gymnastics. Working, eating, waiting for a traffic light to change can furnish opportunities for mindfulness. Observe what you are feeling, thinking, perceiving, don't get hung up on judging it, just pay attention. Tart thinks this kind of self-observation — noticing the automatization — is the first step toward waking up.

Why aren't the psychology departments of every major university working on the best ways to dehypnotize ourselves?

"We tend to think of consensus consciousness like a clearing in the wilderness." Tart replied. "We don't know what monsters are out there. We've made a place that's comfortable and fortified, and we are very ambivalent about leaving this little clearing for even a moment."

Most of the world's major value systems, Tart contends, are based on an extraordinary state of consciousness on the part of a prophet, or a group of people. To Christians, being "born again" is an altered state of consciousness. Moses heard sacred instructions from a burning bush. Mohammed received the Koran in a dream. Buddha sat under a tree and woke up. Most of the values that guide people's lives around the world today are derived from those extraordinary states of mind.

"If the sources of our values derive from altered-states experiences, and if we want to have some intelligent control of our destiny, we'd better not define these states out of existence. They are the vital sources of life and culture and if we don't really understand altered states we're going to live a very dispirited life. "

I asked him if he sees a way out of this dilemma of self-reinforcing institutional and individual trancemanship.

"Yes, I do," he replied. "We are indoctrinated to believe that intellect is what makes humans great, and emotions are primitive leftovers from our jungle ancestors that interfere with our marvelous logical minds. It is possible to train people to base decisions on the appropriate mixture of emotional, intellectual and body-instinctive intelligence. Compassion and empathy are emotions, and I agree with the Buddhists that these emotions are highly evolved, not primitive. With enough training in self-observation, we can develop a new kind of intelligence to bear on the world. Everyday life is quite an interesting place if you pay attention to it."

This article was converted from the text in Howard Rheingold's collection, formerly at http://riceinfo.rice.edu/projects/RDA/VirtualCity/Rheingold/texts/.

Experimental psychology

Experimental psychology was the vehicle Tart chose to pursue his questions about consciousness and reality. Although much of his early research involved dreaming, he was attracted to the mysterious altered state of consciousness known as hypnosis. Tart learned from his earliest experiences as a hypnotist that reality can be influenced far more strongly by one's state of mind than most people suspect, most of the time:

"In inducing hypnosis I would sit down with a volunteer who wanted to be hypnotized," Tart recalled. "We were presumably both normal people. With our eyes we presumably saw the same room around us that others saw; with our ears we presumably heard the ordinary sounds in the room. We smelled what odors were there and felt the solidity of the real objects in the room."

"Then I began to talk to the subject. Researchers give the style of talking the special name of 'hypnotic induction procedure,' but basically it was just talking. The subject was given no drugs, was not in a special environment, had nothing external done to his brain — and yet in twenty minutes I could drastically change the universe he lived in. With a few words, the subject could not lift his arm. With a few more he heard voices talking when no one was there. A few more words and he could open his eyes and see something that no one else could see, or, with the right suggestion, a real object in plain sight in the room would be invisible to him."

How can anybody distinguish, then, between dream, hypnotic trance, and reality?

Dehypnotization, the procedure of breaking out of the normal human state of awareness, according to both mystics and hypnotists, is a matter of direct mental experience. The method can be learned, and that's the nutshell description of the esoteric wisdom of the ages.

The clues from hypnosis research, experiments into the influence of beliefs upon perceptions, and teachings from the mystical traditions, led Tart to see how normal waking consciousness is the product of a true hypnotic procedure that is practiced by parents, teachers, and peers, reinforced by every social interaction, and maintained by powerful taboos.

Consensus trance induction — the process of learning the "normal waking" state of mind — is involuntary, and occurs under conditions that give it far more power than ordinary hypnotists are ever allowed.

When infants are first subjected to the processes that induce consensus trance, they are all vulnerable and dependent upon their consensus hypnotists, for their parents are the ones who initiate them into the rules of their culture, according to the instructions that had been impressed upon them by their own parents, teachers, and peers.

Social Control

Charles Tart on "Consensus Trance” and Normal Human Consciousness

Charles Tart was a real-deal superhuman. He has very quietly given us a huge body of work that covers dozens of areas, and all of it is perfectly written.

Here I want to present Tart's most central and personally important premise, which is essentially pure Sufi/Gurdjeiff theory: most humans are stumbling around in mutually-reinforcing trances, and it takes a great deal of effort, thought and time to escape from that trance.

Charles Tart website

The consensus trance denies all of this, because the steady-state of stability is threatened. Vast segments of the population absolutely refuse to correctly identify the changes that are occurring in our world. Their denial is hard to take, and even harder to witness as denial blunders ahead, destroying even more of the biosphere. Clearly, they have not made the journey from one reality to the other. The critical examination of thought, action, events and outcomes eludes them. Their world is illusion, and to them, very real.

Breaking the Consensus Trance

The first step in breaking free of that trance state is to become self-reflective. Until one can critically examine his/her own beliefs, then there is little hope for changing them. The majority of meditative practices, East and West, as well as many forms of psychotherapy, teach the individual how to have an "observer self" — an element of the psyche that can step outside the ego state and act as an impartial observer.

Waking Up from Consensus Trance

I saw a perfect example of it yesterday when I was in a room with 7 other members of the extended family. At one point, Jeff, obviously with some discomfort, raised the question about whether anyone else felt, as he does, that this time we are heading into something really very bad. 

.... So there he is, trying to face up to this huge shift in his universe, getting no support, even from people who agree with him, and then admitting that, in any case, he has no plan, that he is fatalistic about it all.

Consensus Trance

Becoming "normal", a fully-fledged member of your culture, involves a selected shaping, a development of approved ("natural", "godly", "polite", "civil") identities, and inhibition of disapproved ("evil", "criminal", "delinquent", "disrespectful") ones.

While it might be possible to role-play these, without internalizing them, this is difficult for most people. From a culture's point of view, it is far better if your everyday mind, the habitual, automatised way you think and feel, is shaped to reflect the culture's consensus beliefs and values. Then you will automatically perceive the right perceptions and interpretations, think, behave and feel "normally", for the best survival of the culture.

Enculturation

Enculturation is the process where the culture that is currently established teaches an individual the accepted norms and values of the culture or society in which the individual lives. The individual can become an accepted member and fulfill the needed functions and roles of the group. Most importantly the individual knows and establishes a context of boundaries and accepted behavior that dictates what is acceptable and not acceptable within the framework of that society. It teaches the individual their role within society as well as what is accepted behavior within that society and lifestyle"

Enculturation can be conscious or unconscious, therefore can support both the Marxist and the hegemonic arguments. There are three ways a person learns a culture. Direct teaching of a culture is done, this is what happens when you don't pay attention, mostly by the parents , when a person is told to do something because it is right and to not do something because it is bad. For example, when children ask for something, they are constantly asked "What do you say?" and the child is expected to remember to say "please." The second conscious way a person learns a culture is to watch others around them and to emulate their behavior. An example would be using different slang with different cliques in school. Enculturation also happens unconsciously, through events and behaviors that prevail in their culture. All three kinds of culturation happen simultaneously and all the time.

Enculturation helps mold a person into an acceptable member of society. Culture influences everything that a person does, whether they are aware of it or not. Enculturation is a lifelong process that helps unify people. Even as a culture changes, core beliefs, values, worldviews, and child-rearing practices stay the same. How many times has a parent said "If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?" when their child wanted to fit in with the crowd? Both are playing roles in the enculturation. The child wants to be included in the subculture of their peers, and the parent wants to instill individualism in the child, through direct teaching. Not only does one become encultured, but also makes someone else encultured.

Read 229 times

3D World

The decline and fall…

The decline and fall of work In an industrial society which confuses work and productivity, the necessity of producing has always been an enemy of the desire to create. What spark of humanity, of possible creativity, can remain alive in a being dragged out of sleep at six every morning, jolted about... Read more

More Time for Leisur…

More Time for Leisure  Under-Const  In praise of the national dividend In their paper “Major Douglas’ Proposals for a National Dividend: A Logical Successor to the Wage” Brian Burkitt and Frances Hutchinson defend Major C.H. Douglas’ idea of a national dividend. Conventional economies are based on the exponential growth in production from technological change... Read more

The Cult of the Job

The Cult of the Job On The Leisure Track I am job-free. Out of the rat race. Unemployed, as they say, but definitely by choice. My self-esteem is intact, thank you, I'm not "in transition", and I have no intention of getting a job again. That's right – I'm on the leisure track... Read more

Surro-predation and …

Surro-predation and Global Psychosis Surro-predators THE SOLUTION to collective schizophrenia is the wake-up that happens, one person at a time but with increasing synergy among the awakened, when you begin to detect in any situation that the stated aim is not the actual aim. Global schizophrenia involves a lot of harmless madness... Read more

Facebook Caves to th…

Facebook Caves to the PIC A Blow to Prisoners' Rights From: Counterpunch – by Kenneth E. Hartman – August 18. 2011 In a decision setting back prisoners' rights and helping to advance the interests of prison bureaucrats and their guard union allies, Facebook announced plans to work with the California Department of Corrections and... Read more

Amazingly Beautiful …

Beautiful and Absolutely Hideous Pharmaceutical Factory Sixth Pharm Factory went viral on Chinese internet, showing Versailles-style furnishings and domes and hallways decorated with gold-plated woodcarving. The state-owned company was soon met with a barrage of online criticism for its extravagance and waste of public funds. However, a person in charge, while acknowledging... Read more

By the Numbers: The …

By the Numbers From: ProPublica – by Suevon Lee The growth of the private detention industry has long been a subject of scrutiny. A recent eight-part series in the New Orleans Times-Picayune chronicled how more than half of Louisiana’s 40,000 inmates are housed in prisons run by sheriffs or private companies as... Read more

How Ethical Is The W…

The Work 'Ethic' Reconsidering work and 'leisure time' Did you ever wonder why your parents act so disoriented when it comes to 'leisure' activities? Why they start one little hobby, and either fail to follow through with it or become pathologically obsessed with it... even though it doesn't seem to have anything to... Read more

Why the American Emp…

Destined to Collapse Several years after the Wall Street-ignited crisis began, the nation’s top bank CEOs (who far out-accumulated their European and other international counterparts) continue to hobnob with the president at campaign dinners where each plate costs more than one out of four US households make in a year. Financial... Read more

In China, among 100 …

Among 100 government officials, 101 of them are corrupt While I usually refrain myself from making comments on the political aspects of China, I can’t help but to reflect on the recent dramatic purging of Bo Xilai. While I am not going to make any economic point regarding the short-term impact of... Read more

China's red royalty:…

China's red royalty A GlobalPost infographic charts the children of China's political elite. HONG KONG — They are referred to as "princelings" for a reason — mainly because these children of Communist leaders are resented by many in China, and elsewhere, for the privileges they receive as a birthright. What they do... Read more

The Truth about the …

Promoted Gangsta Rap to Fill Prisons From: Hip Hop Is Read I received this letter from Sebastien Elkouby, a self-professed Hip Hop Culture historian, publicist, and educator. He runs the educational program Global Awareness through Hip Hop Culture and P.R. company S&H Public Relations. The plot thickens... Read more

Price of Gold

Price of Gold The price of gold: Depends upon:   ■ How much you want to buy.   ■ How soon to take physical possession.   ■ Circumstances of purchase.   ■ Geopolitical events. Read more

Why Work Is Turning …

Why Work Is Turning Into a Nightmare How would you like to live in an economy where robots do everything that can be predictably programmed in advance, and almost all profits go to the robots' owners? Meanwhile, human beings do the work that's unpredictable - odd jobs, on-call projects, fetching and fixing... Read more

Fringe Knowledge fo…

Fringe Knowledge for Beginners The last half of my life has been spent in the active pursuit of truth. In the following pages I sketch the broadest map of what I have learned in the fewest words possible. You will not find proof between the covers of this book, rather ideas and principles that... Read more

David Graeber: On th…

The Invention of Money A Reply to Robert Murphy’s ‘Have Anthropologists Overturned Menger? By David Graeber, who currently holds the position of Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths University London. Prior to this he was an associate professor of anthropology at Yale University. He is the author of ‘Debt: The First 5,000... Read more

The Handbook of Huma…

The Handbook of Human Ownership Click to enlarge A Manual for New Tax Farmers Hey - seriously - congratulations on your new political post! If you are reading this, it means that you have ascended to the highest levels of government, so it's really, really important that you don't do or say anything stupid... Read more

The Prisoner Hunger …

The Prisoner Hunger Strike From: Global Research – by Li Onesto – August 8, 2011 – Revolution #242 Prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) in California’s Pelican Bay State Prison led a three-week hunger strike, from July 1 to July 20, demanding an end to the barbaric, inhumane conditions of solitary confinement. Read more

Why China is likely …

Why China is likely to end in disorderly economic collapse There is a crisis of confidence unfolding in China that is likely to end in a full scale capital flight and a disorderly collapse in both economic and political cohesiveness. The lowering of the reserve requirements for Chinese banks, while reported... Read more

The Psychopathology …

The Psychopathology of Work Depersonalization and alienation from our deepest desires is implanted during childhood via school, church, movies, and TV, and soon reaches the point where an individual's desire is not only a net of contradictions, but also a commodity like all the others. Work, now? Never,never. I'm on strike.—Arthur Rimbaud "True... Read more