The first time I was hypnotized I was so detached from my surroundings that I was only aware of the hypnotist’s voice, and have little specific recollection of my two hour trance even though during it I stood up, walked around with eyes open, and completed various complex tasks involving number sequencing, pattern recognition etc.. This was as a volunteer for a graduate psychology student’s research into aspects of hypnosis and cognition.I was so intrigued by this experience that I was subsequently hypnotized many times just to see what might happen.
I went to a hypnotherapist who put me in a trance using a revolving spiral, and throughout the whole session – even when my eyes were closed – I saw nothing but the spiral. I could hear her, and was aware of everything, but felt as if I was suspended in the air – even when standing! It was like being drunk, but without the negatives of that state, and I simply responded to whatever she suggested in a detached but amused manner.
Having thus established my high hypnotizability, I then returned to my psychologist friend for more sessions – this time just for fun! Hypnosis could now be induced very quickly, and because instructed to remain aware I remained fully alert throughout.
It was simply like a waking dream – everything seemed to slow down; I felt very happy, but my attention was totally fixed on the hypnotist. She induced hallucinations (eg she had me dancing with imaginary people, juggling non-existent balls, and “holding conversations” with famous people from history) which seemed completely real, including background noise, music, smells etc.. She induced whole body catalepsy, suspending me completely rigid between two chairs, and numbed my hand totally: I watched fascinated as a needle was passed through the skin on the back of it, and felt nothing – and there was no significant bleeding! I even “revisited” my childhood, which was interesting, especially when asked to write my name, which resulted in very childlike scrawl.
I have also been hypnotized regularly in psychotherapy. My therapist tends to use the “conversational method”, and initially I did not realize she had hypnotized me: I was talked into trance by being asked to imagine looking at myself sitting across the room, describe what I saw etc.. Eventually, I just found myself staring at nothing (it was like a blue/ gray “blur”) and responding automatically to her questions and comments. During these sessions I just feel very relaxed/ “dreamy”. Apparently my eyes usually stay open, but often roll right up into my head. Sometimes she induces trance by the “hand drop” method which just makes me “disconnect”: I stand very still, feeling “zoned out”, listening to her suggestions to the exclusion of all else.
Basically, whatever your degree of responsiveness, when hypnotized you tend to be hyperattentive, and respond uncritically to the person who has hypnotized you. You’re not under their control as such, but more entering into a state of cooperative play with them. If, however, you are willing to engage fully and uncritically it’s possible to experience a range of interesting and enjoyable “new realities”. Most people find hypnosis very relaxing and pleasant – it’s really just a form of guided meditation or visualization resulting from highly focused interpersonal communication. A smaller number (10% or less of most populations) have the motivation, personality, and mind set that enables them to experience far more, entering a “playground of the mind”.