Saturday, November 12, 2011


Hypnotists get in arguments all the time about "trance", and whether it "exists" or if it's "a metaphor" and all sorts of stuff. Trance is something to be explained, not explained away. There is something interesting going on, and I think I know what it is.

Alfred Barrios got it right.

For suggestions to stick, the nodes relating to the concept in question have to light up, and opposing concept have to not light up. The hypnotist might achieve this by giving clever arguments to focus attention on the suggested effect in this case, but an easier approach is to just condition them to shut down all opposing thoughts as a general rule.

The word "trance", to the extent that it has a consistent meaning, seems to refer to this conditioned inhibitory set. Although not strictly one dimensional, there is a correlation between inhibitions. States of mind that correspond to particularly strong inhibition, or inhibition over a wide range of inputs both are helpful for getting strong and varied hypnotic phenomenon. These states could be meaningfully referred to as "deep" states of trance (or "deep" and "wide" if it ever becomes necessary to distinguish between them). This makes hypnosis not a binary "in" or "out" thing, and something that can only very crudely be mapped onto one or two dimensions.

If you look at "hypnosis without trance" with this definition of trance in mind, you'll find that they are in a relatively narrow trance, but there are still classes of responses which are generally more inhibited. It just doesn't inhibit so much that they start to look zombified.

This has nothing to do with "sleep", "relaxation", per se, but when deeply relaxed or sleeping, the little contradicting voice tends to shut the fuck up. This makes "sleep" and "relax" potentially useful suggestions, but by no means necessary. "Calm","Focus", "Clear your mind", and "You automatically accept every suggestion I give, without doubt or question" all can suggest the same thing as well.

The cool thing about deep trance is that once you have it, everything else is easy. Hell, even once you get a medium trance it becomes easy. Just suggest your way to a deeper trance. You don't need any more clever arguments, you just directly suggest your way to your goal. You still have to navigate the landscape, but at least you have some control authority

So its not trivial, but you can now build the suggestions without further interference.


  1. Here are my very similar thoughts on the matter.

    Keep up the good writing. Perhaps a blog describing a specific suggestion set or procedure that's a good example of all your optimizations built in.

    Joe K Fobes

  2. I'm mostly avoiding a "how to", since plenty of people do that, but it might deserve a post or two of condensed (perhaps still meta level) points.