Implicit bias. It lives below the surface of our awareness in our subconscious minds, yet often shows up in our behavior, and therefore, our judgements of others and their motives.
The way I think about implicit bias is sometimes how I look at root and branch causes of people’s health concerns. We can experience signs and symptoms that are apparent at the surface, often, without considering that an underlying root or patho mechanistic nature exists. Similarly, some of the attitudes we hold at the surface are a result of what’s lurking below, often “unbeknownst” to us.
Don’t think you have any bias? Go take Harvard’s implicit associations test here and come back to read on.
Subconscious Attitudes and the Effect of the “Isms”
If we’re carrying around subconscious attitudes based on a combination of our fears and socioculturally driven cognitive cues, we risk passing on stale, outdated information to our posterity from generation to generation.
Consider all of the “isms”– sexism, racism, etc.– for a moment. Reduced, they are a result of some theory or social conditioning based on beliefs that we channel into our behavior. The root or underlying patho mechanistic nature of these beliefs is fear. Fear of being different, fear of lacking, fear of not being loved, you get it…
But, what if we’re experiencing symptoms of the “isms” through biased behavior at the surface? This bias can trickle into the decisions we make in the workplace, the views we raise our children to uphold, the political stances we maintain and even how we interact in our social circles.
Socio-cognitive information is a very powerful epigenetic factor. Could it be causing us to de-volve or, prevent us from evolving intellectually and spiritually?
Enter Hypnosis and How it Can Help Flip the Script
With all of the self-care routines we work so hard to maintain everyday, sometimes what people may need to move beyond cognitive bias is a semi-effortless strategy to make space for evolving ideas.
Hypnosis is a scientifically respected, neural practice that can help both uncover and remove bias and fears that may be driving behavior at the surface. According to the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, most people are at least somewhat hypnotizable.
What’s really cool about hypnosis is its effects on pain and perceptions of it. People experiencing pain assign meaning to their pain without even realizing it, much like the process of implicit bias. The meaning assigned is often stress, fear and panic. Physiologically, this assignment signals cortisol and inflammation to rise, exacerbating pain. Through experimentation, scientists revealed that regular hypnosis can circumvent this cycle.
During a session, the hypnotist can ask the client to imagine that the sensation causing their extreme pain has actually diminished.
What pain and implicit bias have in common are the associated brain wave states– accelerated brain waves in the presence of fear, and reduced, more favorable brain waves in the absence of it. Circumvent the fear with hypnosis, break the cycle and create room where bias once lived.
This phenomena has been captured on EEG scans of hypnotized brains. What this change in brain waves means is that people are ultimately changing the meaning they assign to pain, fear and the perceptions that live inside the subconscious.
Have a personal story to share about being hypnotized or uncovering bias? Tell us about it here.