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What is the evolutionary advantage of susceptibility to hypnotism?

What is the evolutionary advantage of susceptibility to hypnotism?
Johnny Heff from Greater London (Age 35-44)


One Response

  1. Hi Johnny,

    There need not be an advantage; it might simply be a side effect of something else that is advantageous. It is roughly normally distributed (like intelligence) so we could ask whether the people who are not hypnotisable at a disadvantage. Not obviously; in fact they may in some ways have an advantage, as there is a correlation between hypnotisability and what is known as schizotypy. That is a slight tendency to have some of the experiences that would be common place in schizophrenia. Do note: this doesn’t mean that a hypnotisable person is verging on, or is likely to get schizophrenia, but it does imply that they may occasionally have an experience that doesn’t seem to match reality completely.

    The mechanisms of hypnosis are still not fully understood, but it would seem that the region of the brain involved both in generating conscious experience and in monitoring/directing other regions, is able to ‘detach’ from a lot of the incoming stimuli of the real world, then to generate a ‘reality’ of its own. One might say that it is demonstrating extreme flexibility. This would be in stark contrast with a simpler animal, which presumably does not have the neural resources to stray too far from the basic sensory experience. So, one might say that hypnotisabilty is a by-product of having a supremely flexible brain.

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