Can you be hypnotized

Anyone of normal intelligence & state of mind (ie not psychotic, drugged/ drunk etc) is hypnotizable – if willing. Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state which most people enter regularly on a daily basis – eg total absorption in a task/ watching TV/ reading etc to the extent that awareness of other stimuli is minimal or zero. Some scientists assert that most people enter a “right brain state” (ie one of detachment from logical/ analytic thinking allowing the emotional , imaginative, intuitive side of cognition to predominate) roughly every 90 minutes, & during such phases are in a trance state. To be hypnotized is simply to allow induction of this state by deliberate means.

Numerous theories exist about the exact nature of hypnosis, ranging from the social compliance/ role playing view (ie people comply with the hypnotist’s instructions in order to meet their own & others’ expectations, & by so doing are “entranced”) to the the one which asserts that it’s, in fact, the production of a “REM State” in an otherwise conscious person. Whatever, there’s no doubt that hypnosis is an altered state of mind; it’s quite normal, & most can attain it if they wish to.

For reasons that are unclear, however, people do have different hypnotic capabilities. Some people enter deep trance states very readily – they will be somnambulistic; able to remain deeply hypnotized with their eyes open, walk around, experience negative & positive hallucinations suggested to them, and probably partial & even total anaesthesia. Such people will probably also have amnesia, to varying degrees, of events during their trances. Most are not so hypnotizable: they remain fully aware during trance – it’s simply a deeply relaxed state during which they’re very focused on what the hypnotist says to them. Indeed, some describe hypnosis as a state of “hyperattentiveness”. A common hypnotic phenomenon, however, is some degree of time distortion – most believe their trances lasted far less time (and in some cases more!) than was, in fact, the case.

There are no totally reliable means of assessing hypnotizability. However, generally, people of higher intelligence who have good powers of concentration, especially if they also enjoy fantasy, role playing, had “imaginary friends” in childhood etc, are usually pretty good at it. Willingness to “let go”, & trust in the hypnotist, are also pretty important; someone who cannot suspend critical judgment will not be a good subject, & if you think the hypnotist is a creep then forget it!

Some believe the “Eye Roll Test” is a good indicator of general hypnotizability: if you can readily roll up your eyes into your head so only the whites are showing, & maintain this without significant difficulty, then you’re probably readily hypnotizable. Opinions differ on the validity of this, but many have found the correlation to be pretty high.

There are numerous myths about hypnosis. First, willingness to be hypnotized is essential – people can not be hypnotized if they do not want to be. Second, a person in hypnosis is not “under the control” of the hypnotist: they will not do anything they do not want to. Third, a hypnotized person can not be “stuck in hypnosis”: if the hypnotist walked away leaving them in trance, they’d either just drift into ordinary sleep & awake naturally, or – most likely – emerge spontaneously from trance after a short time, probably at most half an hour.

So, yes, I can be hypnotized – as can pretty well anyone who wants to be. It’s not “magic”, just an altered state of mind that occurs regularly to most of us. Many years ago, for example, I was at a party where I spent over 3 hours dancing with a woman, during which time I was pretty well unaware of anything else & did not realise how much time had passed – I was hypnotized by her.

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