Thursday, 10 July 2014

Strange announcement

Crows in a treeAnyone travelling on public transport these days is likely to be familiar with automated pre-recorded announcements. But when my acquaintance (MA) who gets MWR (microsleep with REM) episodes heard one recently it was astonishing because it related directly to what was going on in the train at the time. But how could that be?

MA quickly realised it was an MWR episode. Specifically, MA experienced a short hypnagogic episode which mixed elements of a dream with real scenery and sound. And the most striking part was an announcement that had been changed to suit the 'plot' of the dream. The voice of the announcement sounded the same as usual, but some of the words had been changed to similar sounding ones more relevant to the 'plot' of the dream. Of course, the real announcement could not have changed as it was pre-recorded.

Such hypnagogic episodes are the cause of many apparently anomalous experiences, so it is important that we know how they work. If we know the specific ways hypnagogic experiences are realised, they can become more easily recognisable in anomalous accounts.

In many hypnagogic episodes, additional elements, like human figures, are 'added' to real scenes where they might be interpreted by the witness as ghosts or aliens, for instance, depending on the context. This latest example is interesting because it involves the subtle 'editing' of real sounds rather than the addition of completely new elements.

Of course, it is possible that the announcement itself was an 'addition' rather than an 'edit'. However, the announcement did not obviously form part of the 'plot' of MA's hypnagogic experience. The fact that it was 'adapted' to fit in with the 'plot' strongly suggests that it was real sound intruding into the experience. It is possible that this happens more generally when unexpected visual or sonic elements intrude into such an experience. They are too intrusive to be ignored so they are edited to fit the plot of the hypnagogic episode.

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