Hypnotists are often asked for help finding something missing—a phone, a valuable piece of jewelry, where in the world I parked the car that night pub crawling—with the idea that the hypnotist can put the caller into a trance, rewind the memory, and voila!
A skilled professional like Gold Coast hypnotist Greg Thompson can, in fact, get the job done; but the work is more complicated than the average person would believe. Memories are not simply stored in the brain like videotapes or photographs, and retrieving them can be a complex task.
An important contributor to the modern view of how memory works was neuroscientist Karl Pribram, who developed a model of mental functioning he dubbed holonomic brain theory. What he proposed was the idea that the brain operates like a three-dimensional hologram.
What a hologram does, essentially, is take a visual image, split it up into multiple parts, and then project those parts together to create a three-dimensional picture. Pribram’s idea was that anything a person observes is split up into multiple pieces, and each piece is stored in a different part of the brain. Memory involves pulling those bits and pieces together to form a whole image, like a hologram.
So anything you experience or do, if it makes a strong enough impression to stick in your mind, gets broken up into pieces and stored in different parts of your brain. What you saw will go into some part of the brain’s visual cortex. What you heard will go somewhere in the part of the brain that remembers sounds and voices. Physical impressions will be stored in another place. How you felt about it will go into yet another part of the brain.
Remembering the experience involves pulling all those pieces out and sticking them together again. You are not playing a tape. You are building a hologram.
Most of us have experienced taking something apart and then having trouble putting it together again. It’s the same with those mental holograms. Making it more complicated is the fact that most of us pay more attention to some things than to others, so some parts of a memory will be clear as crystal, and other parts will be foggy.
This is where hypnosis comes into play. A competent hypnotist has the skills to bring all of those parts of a memory back and help you put them into a coherent picture.