Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Med Hypotheses. 2013 Sep;81(3):383-8. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2013.05.026. Epub 2013 Jun 19.

A right hemisphere safety backup at work: hypotheses for deep hypnosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, and dissociation identity disorder.

Author information

New University of Buckinghamshire, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom.


Problem theory points to an a priori relation between six key problems of living, to which people have adapted through evolution. Children are guided through the problems one by one, learning to switch between them automatically and unawares. The first problem of raising hope of certainty (about the environment), is dealt with in the right hemisphere (RH). The second of raising hope of freedom (or power to control), is dealt with in the left hemisphere (LH). Here adventurousness and ignoring the goodness of outcomes potentially create recklessness. When uncertainty rises the RH activates a backup with an override that substitutes immobility, takes over sensory inputs, but allows obedience to parental commands, and a cut-out that stops new work on the freedom problem. Support for the use of the backup by infants is found in the immobility that precedes the crying in strange conditions, and in childhood EEGs. The hypothesis that the backup is active in deep hypnosis imposes accord on findings that appear contradictory. For example it accounts for why observations during deep hypnosis emphasize the activity of the RH, but observations of responsive people not under hypnosis emphasize the activity of the LH. The hypothesis that the backup is active in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is supported by (a) fMRI observations that could reflect the cut-out, in that part of the precuneus has low metabolism, (b) the recall of motionlessness at the time of the trauma, (c) an argument that playing dead as a defence against predators is illogical, (d) the ease of hypnosis. With dissociative identity disorder (DID), the theory is consistent with up to six alters that have executive control and one trauma identity state where childhood traumas are re-experienced. Support for the cut-out affecting the trauma identity state comes from suppression of part of the precuneus and other parts of the parietal lobe when the trauma identity state is salient and a general script about a trauma is listened to. Support also comes from the ease of hypnosis. The cut-out acts independently of the override. It is linked to low metabolism at the same point in the left precuneus by evidence from all three conditions, hypnosis, PTSD and DID. The concept of dissociation is not required with any of the hypotheses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center