The power of the human mind is vast, so vast that our potential may never be known, our intellectual evolution may outrun our ability to understand precisely what it is that we’re ultimately capable of.
“Let me tell you this; mine is no mesmerism, miracle or magic. Mine is genuine DIVINE POWER.” – Atharva Veda
Although we cannot all be as convicted as Veda in our declaration of psychical powers, it has been conceded on many levels, that all mankind has the ability to use the mind beyond simple domestic labour. And it may be said that while a great many people embark on a metaphysical journey, even a meta-psychical journey, some of us may happen on that path purely by accident.
Beginning with what may be the most famous case of believed alien abduction in history, the missing time episode of Betty and Barney Hill on September 19, 1961, wherein the world (for the most part) is satisfied that the Hill’s left our planet aboard a vessel, constructed and operated by an intelligent alien species. We are to believe that what they experienced on that lonely road in Groveton New Hampshire, was none other than the first widely accepted UFO abduction in modern record.
Since the time of that abduction, some 47 years ago, there have been literally thousands of reports, some well documented, others questionable and most lacking in any kind of verifiable substance. Though there is one element of what is the questionable majority of these thousands of reports that stands out; not the extraterrestrial influence, not the reputation of the abductee, but the phenomenon of missing time.
Taken on its own, Missing Time phenomenon is a troubling idea, especially so for the experiencer. It often involves hours of blank recall, of untold injuries, mysterious and startling travel and often a sense of some external force that has exerted its will upon the experiencer, usually manifesting in the form of an alien abduction. But for the empirical observer, there is little connection between the phenomenon and the belief that aliens are involved in any way.
To the believer, there is little doubt that there is some external and typically extraterrestrial will at play, and those who claim to have experienced such events are adamant that Missing Time is a symptom of a larger abduction experience, though there are other explanations that are often overlooked in the name of overzealous categorization of these events.
One such explanation might be the highly misunderstood idea of accidental hypnosis.
“MESMERISM, n. Hypnotism before it wore good clothes, kept a carriage and asked Incredulity to dinner.” – Ambrose Bierce
There are few people who lack at least a basic understanding of what hypnosis is, though there are equally few people who understand the long standing history of the condition of hypnosis on the human psyche.
The concept of hypnosis, while not known by that specific term, dates back to ancient Hindu and Persian meditation teachings, as a self-healing practise of introspection. In more modern settings and through the evolution of magnetism, western and European science began to experiment with mesmerism, coined in homage to the first western scientist to study its effect in a clinical setting, Franz Anton Mesmer. Mesmer began working with hypnotism, also known as animal magnetism (though that term is condemned for its highly misleading nature), in the mid 18th century, and his involvement is what brought the practise to mainstream culture as a form of entertainment.
Perhaps the most famous 20th century character to have used hypnosis with any professional credibility is the venerable Dr. Sigmund Freud, though he was certainly not the last practitioner of psychology to tempt the fates with the use of hypnotism.
The glaring difference between the efforts of Franz Mesmer or Sigmund Freud, and the silly idea of accidental hypnosis is exactly what it seems. Freud and his modern or even historical contemporaries were deliberately inducing a hypnogogic state with the intended purpose of sweeping aside rational control over the conscious mind in favour of interacting directly with the subconscious mind. A practise which they became quite good at I might add.
Mesmerism, as it is commonly known in entertainment circles, has become the stuff of magicians. There was a time when Las Vegas was the home of some of the most talented Mesmerists the world has ever known, and the likes of Chris Angel and David Blaine are examples of the heights to which this craft can be taken, but again, this is all deliberate exploitation of the mechanism that allows the human mind to exaggerate the separation between conscious and subconscious thought processes.
While it is entirely natural, and thought to be a defensive attribute of our highly evolved brains, what can be done deliberately, can also, always be done accidentally.
In much the same way as the so-called ‘Mind Freak’ can convince you that he just levitated, or drove a spike through his heart or whatever else his overly dramatic act entails, everyday activities can fool you into thinking some of the strangest things, and under the right circumstances, can completely hypnotise you and cause you to believe that events have occurred, which most certainly have not.
Some of the most mundane things we encounter everyday hold the potential to throw us into a hypnotic state, and in fact, these things do exactly that on a regular basis. Watching television, listening to music and even driving a car, all of these things are, as the swinging pocket watch was to Freud, a mechanism that causes the subconscious mind to assert dominance over the conscious mind.
For the experienced driver, it’s an worrisome thing to be travelling a stretch of familiar road, letting your mind wander and then suddenly realising you’ve completed your journey with only a vague recollection of having operated the vehicle. Or late night TV watching, settling in and being swept away by the ideas and images that flash before you on the screen, suddenly realising hours later that you haven’t moved, you may not even have blinked, but the time passed and you have no recollection of any events outside of the frame of the TV show.
It’s no real coincidence that the majority of Missing Time reports have the experiencer travelling at night, and on lonely roads; seemingly perfect conditions for a little lapse in concentration, but what if you combine the effect of driving while fatigued or distracted, with soothing music and low visibility?
You can fairly easily see where this is going, but the suggestion is not that these victims of missing time are simply guilty of a lapse in concentration; absolutely not. This ability to separate our conscious attention from the subconscious operation of a motor vehicle is not a new idea, it’s one that’s been tested time and again, and modern car manufacturers use ingenious techniques to keep drivers alert while on the road. No, the subtle difference here is, where the masses are capable of achieving a light state of hypnosis through mundane and familiar acts or behaviours, there are those among us who are far more prone to hypnotic suggestion than others, and it is those people who may be finding themselves at the mercy of their subconscious mind in at least a portion of these missing time reports.
The experience would be frightening, terrifying even, and it is no wonder that induced hypnosis would be successful in retrieving altered memories from an earlier period of accidental hypnotic action; the two processes would compliment each other nicely.
This, obviously, is not to say that all reports of Missing Time are the result of accidental hypnosis, nor is it to say that all reports of alien abduction are false, misrepresented or mistaken; it is only the suggestion that among the many thousands of storied claims that are tossed about the arena of doubt and ridicule, we should stop and think once in a while about much more earthly factors that could be playing much larger roles than we had previously acknowledged.