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The Unity of Consciousness$
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Tim Bayne

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199215386

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199215386.001.0001

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(p.173) 8 Hypnosis
The Unity of Consciousness

Tim Bayne (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the claim that the unity of consciousness is lost in the context of forms of hypnosis that involve a ‘hidden observer.’ According to a number of theorists—most notably Hilgard—some hypnotized subjects have two streams of consciousness at once: a ‘covert’ stream that is accessible only by way of ‘hidden observer’ probes, and an overt stream that is accessible in the normal ways. The evidence in favour of this ‘two‐streams’ model of the hidden observer is examined and found to be quite strong. However, an even more plausible account of the hidden observer holds that hidden observer subjects have a single stream of consciousness that switches back and forth between ‘overt’ and ‘covert’ states. The hidden observer prompt changes the content of the patient's experience by directing his or her attention to stimuli that had previously been neglected.

Keywords:   hidden observer, automatic writing, Hilgard, zombies, two‐streams model, hidden observer, switch model, Spanos

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