The Art and Science of Learning Craft  


Hidden observer


Ernest Ropieque Hilgard was an American psychologist, professor at Stanford university, who became famous in the 1950s for his research on hypnosis.

Hilgard discovered a spectacular phenomenon of dissociation during hypnosis : the hidden observer.


Hidden observer's emergence during a classroom demonstration of hypnosis, in Hilgard’s own words :

My subject was a blind student, experienced in hypnosis... Once hypnotized, he received the suggestion that, at the count of three, he would become completely deaf, His hearing would be restored when I placed my hand on his right shoulder.

An associate and I then banged some large wooden blocks together, close to the subject's head, but he did not react to the sound. He was completely indifferent to our questions.

One student asked whether some part of the subject might be aware of what was going on. After all, there was nothing wrong with his ears.

I agreed to test this and said to the subject, "Although you are hypnotically deaf, perhaps some part of you is hearing my voice and processing the information. …If there is, I should like the index finger of your right hand to rise as a sign that this is the case."

The finger rose! The subject immediately said, "Please restore my hearing so you can tell me what you did. I felt my finger rise in a way that was not a spontaneous twitch."

Intrigued, Hilgard said he would explain later. He told the student, who was still hypnotized, that there was a hidden part of his mind which knew everything which had happened.

Hilgard gave the suggestion that, when the student's arm was touched, the hidden part would become conscious

Sure enough, when I placed my hand on his arm, he could report exactly how many loud sounds had been made, what questions the class had asked, and what I had said that caused his finger to rise."

Although the presence of inner self cannot  be perceived easily, the fact that it monitors and directs the functioning of our mental faculties can be inferred from our perceptual adaptation, filters, negative effects of J.O.L (judgment of learning), etc.

Now let us observe the inner self in action and it's intelligence in two instances :

                                                                                         Perceptual Adaptation