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The mental state of Highway hypnosis can occur on highways like this one.

Highway hypnosis is a mental state in which a person can drive a truck or automobile great distances, responding to external events in the expected manner with no recollection of having consciously done so. In this state the driver's conscious mind is apparently fully focused elsewhere, with seemingly direct processing of the masses of information needed to drive safely. Highway hypnosis is just one manifestation of a relatively commonplace experience, where the conscious and subconscious minds appear to concentrate on different things.

In some parts of the Southern United States, the phenomenon is called white-line fever, in reference to the white lines painted on the pavement.

Building on the theories of Ernest Hilgard (1986, 1992) that hypnosis is an altered state of awareness, some theorists hold that the consciousness can develop hypnotic dissociation. In the example of highway hypnosis, one stream of consciousness is driving the car while the other stream of consciousness is dealing with other matters. Amnesia can even develop for the dissociated consciousness that drove the automobile. The phenomenon is an example of automaticity in cognitive psychology.

References

  • Weiten, Wayne 2004 (pp 200) Psychology Themes and Variations Sixth Edition Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, Belmont, CA, USA ISBN 0-534-59769-6

See also


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