Friday, October 25, 2013

Brainwashing Anyone?

The news this week carried an article about research done right here in my back yard. Well, not really my literal back yard, but a few miles up the road at the University of Rochester. The study showed that when a person sleeps, the brain is actually washed, by cerebral-spinal fluid, removing toxins that have accumulated during the day.

This brought back memories from when I was a young boy. I was fascinated with the concept of “brainwashing”. It seems to me that the concept appeared in a few shows that I watched. In those shows, brainwashing seemed to sometimes be accomplished by hypnosis and at other times complex machinery was used to plant suggestions for the brainwashee to act on, when stimulated by a specific stimulus. In more extreme cases, brain washing wiped a person’s memories and replaced them with new ones, creating a whole new person.

In fact, as a child, I wanted a pocket watch so I could hypnotize people. After all, it would be totally stinking awesome to get my brother and sister to do my chores for me. Then one Christmas, my brother and I got toy stop watches that I could run a string through and use to hypnotize my siblings. 
My evil plan was about to commence.

I tried to hypnotize my brother first, by spinning and swinging the plastic watch, dangling on the end of the string in front of his eyes. In as deep a soothing monotone as I could muster, I said “You are getting sleepy, very sleepy”.  It didn’t work. Then I tried my sister. This time i turned the lights down, to create a relaxing atmosphere. Once again, slowly swinging the watch, I chanted soothingly, “Sleepy, you are getting sleepy.” It still didn’t work. For a long time the three of us went back and forth, each of us trying to hypnotize each other, without success. No hypnosis, no brain washing, no getting our siblings to do our chores for us.  

Perhaps it was because the watches weren’t real pocket watches; they were toy stop-watches. Or maybe it was because they were plastic and not shiny silver or gold disks that beautifully reflected the light. Or maybe it was the string, rather than a fancy chain, we used to suspend the watches from our hands.

Years later, I took a psychology class, and the professor actually spent one class period teaching about hypnosis and demonstrated it in class. It was then I realized how complex the concept of hypnosis really is and that what you see on TV is not quite proper, because they don’t want little children hypnotizing their siblings and planting  the hypnotic suggestion of doing another person’s chores. 

Now that I have a better understanding of hypnosis, as well as three daughters, and lots of chores, if anyone is looking for a present to gift me for Christmas, I could use a nice shiny, metal pocket watch, with a real chain.

1 comment:

  1. Forget Christmas you should run out and get that shiny watch now!!