Determining the depth of a trance
The light trance state:
- The subject is physically relaxed
- The subject’s eyelids may flutter or twitch
- Sounds may become painful
Light to medium trance state:
- The subject’s limbs feel heavy
- The subject’s breathing becomes slower and deeper
- Intense feeling of deep relaxation (the subject does not feel like moving, speaking or thinking)
- The subject feels detached from his/her surroundings
Medium trance state:
- The subject is aware of the trance, but cannot describe it
- Suggestive state (For example, the operator suggests the subject has an ant on his/her arm and the subject can actually feel it crawling, even though there is nothing there or the operator suggests there is smoke in the room and the subject smells it, though there is no smoke)
- Catalepsy: A condition characterized by lack of response to external stimuli and by muscular rigidity, so that the limbs remain in whatever position they are placed.
Deep or somnambulistic trance state:
- The subject can open eyes without affecting the trance
- Fixed stare and pupil dilation when eyes are opened.
- Complete amnesia
- Systemized post-hypnotic amnesia
- Uncontrolled movements of eyeballs
- Sensation of lightness, floating, swinging or falling
- The subject experiences a distortion of sound
- The subject can control his/her involuntary body functions- i.e., heart rate, blood pressure
- Recall of lost memories
- Age regression
- Visual hallucinations
- Auditory hallucinations
- Total Anesthesia
Methods of testing the depth of the trance:
The operator must establish the depth of the trance in order to remain in control of the session. This is done by testing the subject for their receptivity to the operator’s suggestions. The most common method used is where the operator tells the subject he/she cannot move his/her arm. Example:
”Your arm is stuck to the chair, you cannot lift it, and when I count to five, I want you to try to lift it. If you have cooperated, you will find that the harder you try to lift your arm, the more it remains stuck to the chair.”
The operator then counts to five, saying after each number, “Your arm is stuck to the chair.” When five is reached, if the subject cannot move his/her arm, they are in a trance. If the subject can move his/her arm, he/she has not accepted the suggestion. The operator must start all over again and explain he/she can do nothing without the subject’s cooperation. It is always important to secure the trust of the subject.
The next stage is where the operator deepens the trance and again checks to see how deep the subject has gone. The operator tells the subject he/she will stroke the back of the subject’s hand and he/she will feel an increasing numbness and loss of sensation in that hand.
After a few minutes of stroking, and speaking, the operator pinches the back of the subject’s hand and then does the same with the back of the other hand that has not been stroked and asks the subject if he/she can feel any difference.
If the subject replies that there is a difference, this stage of trance has been achieved; if not, the operator explains to the subject that further work on deepening the trance must be done. More sessions will be needed to take the subject deeper and deeper.
The next stage the operator tests is an even deeper stage. If the subject has advanced to this stage, he/she will be amnesic.
The operator tells the subject to imagine that he/she is standing in front of a blackboard with a piece of white chalk and instructs him/her to take the chalk and write three words on the board. “Now I want you to take the chalk and write the following three words on the blackboard: First, tree; next grass and lastly cloud.
Raise your arm when you are finished writing the three words.” When the subject has signaled he/she is done writing the words, the operator instructs him/her that there is an eraser on the ledge of the Blackboard and says “I want you to take the eraser and erase the words tree and grass, leaving only the word ‘cloud.’ As you erase the words, I want you to also erase them from your mind, so that all you can think of now is ‘cloud’ ‘cloud.’ You are going into a deeper and deeper sleep.
You are in a deep, sound sleep and all you can think of is the word ‘cloud.’ Now, what were the three words you wrote on the blackboard?” If the subject is able to remember the three words, he/she has not yet reached the amnesic stage of trance. If not, the subject has reached this stage of deep
trance. The operator should then say “When I count to three, you will then remember the three words and repeat them to me.” The subject should then be able to remember the words and repeat them.
In order to be able to place the subject in this stage of trance the next time the operator performs the hypnosis, he/she should tell the subject before bringing him/her back “From now on, whenever I put you into a trance, you will have reached the same depth of trance as you are in now by the time I have counted to ten.”
The operator then brings the subject out of the trance: “I am now going to count up to five. When I reach five, you will be wide awake and feel refreshed and fine.”