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MyselfWakefulness, Dreams and Hypnosis

Posted Sep 2009

What is the difference and similarity of states of wakefulness, dream and hypnosis? What is the treshold of conscious awareness?


The human mind is changing different states of the mind during the day. The consciousness is involved in most of these states. The difference is in level of consciousness. Consciousness is differently expressed, depending on the state of the mind.

Hypnosis is the state of mind where the consciousness is increasingly focused on one area, while the other feelings, thoughts and sensations are suppressed. Basically, our conscious mind is at certain level of consciousness during hypnosis, while other parts of mind are far below conscious threshold. It is interesting to compare hypnotic state of mind with dream state, as well as with awaken state.

During the sleep state our mind is below conscious level of wakefulness. The exception are periods of dreaming, which we are often aware of. Even more, it is possible to train the mind to achieve the lucid state of dreaming. Lucid dreaming is a dream where the subject is aware of a dream. With practice it is able even to design the dream and to change the flow of events.

Wakefulness, the state of mind that we are mostly aware of. During this state we are aware of all what is around us. As a result, we feel, see, and hear many things, but as result sometimes we are not focused too much. Our senses are often overloaded with all kind of inputs. Therefore, conscious mind is wide, but is not deep and focused.

When we compare all three states of mind, the wakefulness, dreams and hypnosis, we notice some similarities. During of all these states of mind a part of consciousness is above and other part is below threshold of awareness. The difference is in levels above and below the awareness threshold and in width and depth of focus on certain object, thought or sensation experienced. The following diagram can explain the state of mind activities.

Wakefulness, Dreams and Hypnosis

The vertical axis represents the level of wakefulness, while horizontal axis shows the width of functions of the mind.

During the sleep state our mind is below conscious level of wakefulness. The exception are periods of dreaming, which we are often aware of. Even more, it is possible to train the mind to achieve the lucid state of dreaming. Lucid dreaming is a dream where the subject is aware of a dream...



While being awake, the most of the mind processes are above the consciousness threshold. The processes are wide and they are fluctuating. During the sleeping the mind is mostly below consciousness level, with exception of dreaming period, when is slightly above the consciousness threshold.

The hypnosis state shows that most of the mind processes are deep and inactive. The specific portion of the mind is very awake and focused on specific and narrow area. If the awaked part of the mind is suggested to some idea or picture, the awaked mind will strongly adopt this suggestion. The mind will be able to see and fell the flower, even if it is not there, but simply suggested by hypnotist.

On the other side, the negative suggestion can do the opposite. The suggestion that the pain does not exist will make the hypnotized person not to feel the pain.

From this comparison of awaken, dream and hypnotic states it is obvious that they are not fundamentally different. The principles are the same, but the difference is in allocation of the consciousness versus threshold of wakefulness and width of focus. The border between these states of mind is not clearly visible, since one state is morphing gradually to another.

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