virus: Definition/Demonstration

Fri, 05 Mar 1999 23:45:15 -0800

There is no hard and fast definition for a hypnotic experience or
"trance." The best that we can do is to say that a trance state is an
altered state of consciousness, one that represents a shift from
"ordinary" waking consciousness. Some emphasis has been given to the
ideas that a trance state represents a more internalized experience, a narrowing of focus, "dissociation," increased suggestibility, or automatism. While any of these can come into play in a hypnotic experience, none of them are either necessary or universal. Perhaps one of the most useful definitions of hypnosis is "a goal-directed striving which takes place in an altered psychological state." (Ronald E. Shor, Amer. J. Psychology, Vol. 13, 1959, pp. 582-602). Speaking of hypnosis in the context of a therapeutic setting, another writer said, "Trance permits the operator to evoke in a controlled manner the same mental mechanisms that are operative spontaneously in everyday life." (Milton Erickson)

With this in mind, it may be easier to understand that our minds have the ability to shift from one state of consciousness to another very easily. We have all experienced trance-like states while daydreaming, while bored in a lecture or class, while driving along a long highway, getting a massage, sitting in a hot tub, when we shift our attention in order to read an article or book, to watch television, or to go inside our own minds to think about something. You may even be in a kind of trance state right now!