Hallucinating Minds, Why People Hallucinate
Most people are unaware they may be hallucinating.
Technically, hallucination refers to perceptions in the absence of external stimuli.
In one sense then, everything might be regarded as hallucinatory, if we accept the premise that there is no such thing as objective reality, a premise difficult to prove or to disprove.
We will dismiss this special case of hallucinations, for now, as most people sincerely believe the material worlds they experience with their senses are objective, real worlds.
In popular culture hallucinations are considered to be unusual events in which what is perceived may include a distortion of perceptions of an objective experience, as well as perceptions that may appear to have no objective stimuli involved.
Such distortions may more accurately be classified as illusions, however, in common parlance they may more often be described as hallucinations.
The most common classes of hallucination most people may be aware of are those hallucinations that occur with various types of intoxication such as may be experienced with alcohol, marijauna, or LSD.
Alcoholics, stoners, and fans of psychedelics may all be familiar with seeing things that 'just-aren't-there'. They may all exhibit unusual behavior, they may appear to respond to perceptions of their environments that may be unique to themselves, perceptions other observers may be unable to share.
Groups of drunken, stoned, or tripping people may hallucinate together at times through the power of suggestion, each contributing to a dialogue that drives the definitions of their perceptions in a common direction, a direction that may seem very bizarre to unintoxicated observers.
It is possible for someone hallucinating to be unaware that there is anything wrong with their perceptions, they may sometimes accept things as they appear to be to themselves without challenging the reality of their perceptions, particularly when their possibly irreal perceptions are reinforced in a group.
And, in fact, ordinary people also may be described as hallucinating, when their conditioned preferences for how they perceive things drifts from the consesus points of views.
It is this ordinary, daily form of hallucination that most concerns us.
Cognitive science theories have developed models for human cognitive evolution that consistently support a conclusion, that in this case, many, most, or all people are always hallucinating.
It may be impossible to stop hallucinating without becoming something like a Zen master, the only cases where people may be free of hallucinations may be in states of satori, bliss, deep meditation, or prayer, and possibly, not even then.
It is presumed by the unenlightened that all of their perceptions are real, but only a few classes of people consciously explore possibilities that their perceptions may really be irreal.
The reason cognitive sciences can demonstrate the validity of their models in which all people most likely must be hallucinating all the time is based on how human minds evolve.
The cognitive growth of each person appears to be based on learning symbol sets in which there is a perceived relationship between the symbols we create for things, symbols that we perceive with our minds, and things experienced in our sensoriums, the sum experiences of the processes of all of our senses informing us about our environments.
We cannot juggle five bowling pins in our minds.
We can, however, imagine juggling five bowling pins in our minds.
When we imagine we juggle five bowling pins we are manipulating our mental symbols for bowling pins, animating their behavior very realisitcally to ourselves in our minds.
We may lack the physical coordination to really juggle five bowling pins; we may rarely imagine all the pins falling to the floor, but falling to the floor may be the result more often than not if we try to juggle real bowling pins.
In order to anticipate how the world around us will change so that we may be prepared for whatever will happen next, we learn to build very elaborate models of the world in our minds.
The more threatening our environments appear to be, the more pressured we are to learn to model the worlds around us in our minds more successfully in order to more successfully anticipate trouble in order to avoid it.
In addition to threats from the physical world such as a moving vehicle, we must be able to model social threats, health threats, and financial threats, etc...
Social pressure plays a huge role in teaching us to model our external environments in our minds and use our mental models to explore the possible consequences of our own behavior.
Consequently, all people appear to develop very elaborate mental models for reality and how the elements of their models are identified, function, and interact.
Cognitive sciences study how all people acquire their mental models, how we all learn to assign various distinguishing properties to the elements of our models, and how we learn the rules by which the elements of our models should interact with one another, as well as what the implications for how these processes evolve may be.
Cognitive sciences study how people often 'live-in-their-heads' often unaware of real events or the properties of things in their environments because they prefer to stay in the safer realms of their imaginations, often ignoring things such as red lights because their models anticipate making a turn at a green light, and they mistakenly choose to perceive the green lights in their minds rather than the red lights at their intersections.
Because our models become increasingly elaborate, many people choose to ignore new information that may require them to update their models. This process further motivates them to live in isolation in their minds, increasingly 'out-of-touch' with what we might regard as their real worlds around them.
Over time, most people become so heavily invested in their beliefs about their perceptions that they unconsciously modify their perceptions to agree with their beliefs.
So long as their models for reality closely agree with other people's models for reality, things may work well, except for the occasional traffic accidents.
However, as more stress is applied, most people respond poorly.
Stress inhibits higher cognitive functions resulting in less capacity to think or act with awareness, while also exciting reactive behaviors, behaviors relying heavily on our personal models for reality, models with which we feel more familiar, more comfortable, models that typically feel safer to us than the stressful or unfamiliar environments our senses should be engaging us with.
Stress habituates us to mentally over-ride the perceptions of our senses and choose to see things in our minds in our own familiar ways, regardless of how different our imaginations may be from the objective worlds we describe to ourselves this way.
The differences between our interior, imagined worlds, and our exterior, 'objective' worlds are called cognitve dissonance when we become aware of them.
Cognitive dissonance is our awareness that things are not really as they seemed to be to us.
All learning is a process of cognitive dissonance in which we discard our old models for things in favor of new models, new models that may not always be better models, but which we are usually convinced will be better models.
Humor, like learning, is derivitave of cognitive dissonance.
Humor sets up an expectation and then delivers a result that is widely at variance with the expectation.
The abrupt experience of something unexpected causes us to laugh, but we laugh only after an intense moment of tension in which we check our modeled expectations and the experiences of our perceptions to be sure everything is really ok.
Humor digs at those parts of our awareness that inspire fear or anxiety in order to create the sudden intense tension, and then resorts to silliness to break the tension in order to provide catharsis.
Catharsis is a healing process, consequently the popular old saw about good humor is very true, laughter really is good medicine.
We'll be laughing our way to the funny farm now...
haha hiho hehe...
All people are always hallucinating.
Validation is big business because people are secretly afraid they are all mad, and validation gives us a comforting illusion that we are normal.
It is impossible to have a consensus regarding what normal may be, so in one sense it is impossible to be normal, but in the sense of being ordinary, we are all very normal.
However, we may very well all be mad as hatters as well, perhaps far from ordinary at all...
Unless, of course, we accept that madness is indeed ordinary, normal, a theory cognitve sciences appear to confrim.
Cognitive sciences demonstrate that stress drives a wedge between perceived reality and objective reality.
The more stress present in our environments the less mental energy we have to be aware of our environments with, and also, the more emotionally motivated we become to dissociate from our immediate environments.
Brainwashing uses stress to break people's minds to force their cooperation.
Our environments are increasingly saturated with brainwashing messages, enough so, that all people cannot help but to be mad.
Only their collective agreements that they are not mad, agreements all made under stress to mitigate their fears that they may be mad, may give anyone any sense of security; however, many of our aculturated social agreements are breaking down, eroded by increasing stress.
We should cover two more aspects of Hallucinating Minds, a close up of cognitive mechanisms that produce hallucinations, and how an emerging age of enlightenment may help us address our fears, reduce our stress, and relieve social and personal influences that encourage us to hallucinate.