How Suggestable are you?
It's a Sunday morning and my girlfriend and I are in the uncomfortable grip of a hangover.
The type of hangover where it's difficult to focus on anything other than how awful you feel. Right around the stage just before the anxiety and regret about the night before kicks in.
We found ourselves in Harvey Norman, a furniture and household appliances store that you can find in Ireland.
I'm not sure why we were there, it's possible we were looking for a new mattress, though that's not important to the story.
Anyway, there we were, sat on one of the display couches waiting on the staff to answer some questions, when a man walks by with his young child.
The child, as children do, was dragging his feet and pulling on everything that could be pulled on.
Sure enough his dad eventually had enough, turned to his son and said "Come on, lets go!"
His voice was firm and commanding. Something that the child clearly recognized, as he instantly stopped messing around and picked up the pace.
But he wasn't the only one...
In a moment of confusion my girlfriend stood up and absentmindedly walked off in the direction of the man.
It took all of about three seconds for her to realize that she was blindly following a stranger's command. One that had not been intended for her in the first place.
I, meanwhile, laughed for the rest of the day, and still do this day, as I pictured the confused look on her face as she stood up at the command of a complete stranger.
What does it all mean?
I think anyone that has ever had a hangover will agree that they can leave you in a somewhat emotionally unstable state.
What's interesting to me is that I'm 100% sure that my girlfriend would not have complied with that command had she not been hung over.
She was in a state that left her more suggestible, more open to manipulation.
Think about that.
A person's mental state can be modified so that they are more suggestible / open to manipulation.
That's pretty scary... And you don't need to be hung over either.
Faith healers and charlatans do this all the time.
Watch a video of one of those 'pastors’ in an American mega church.
They start the show off with bright lights, loud music and an energetic entrance. This is all aimed at opening the audience up. It makes them more open to suggestion.
Similarly, someone that has recent experienced a tragedy or is grieving will be more open to the comforting words of a 'psychic'.
The point is that all humans can be manipulated and that doesn't make us stupid it just comes with the territory.
The mind is a complicated place, run by chemical and electrical signals, and that chemistry can be changed (eg. By drinking or taking drugs) and those signals manipulated.
But remember - there are people out there that seek to create an environment in which you can be manipulated. So watch out for the lies and manipulation, but also watch out for those that would create an environment in which manipulation is easier.