It is often possible to discern a structure to people’s difficulties, in which internal states and external events continually recreate the conditions for the recurrence of each other.
– Paul Wachtel
The hypnotic state clients experience in my office as a result of a formal trance induction is just one of the many different trances they experience throughout their day. Anxiety, confidence, anger, and desperation are each trances, or psychological states, and each determines the value of state-dependent phenomena such as perception, motivation, and behavior in a different way. You are a different person when you are anxious than when you are confident; when you are cool than when you are desperate. How you see things and how you are likely to act is often dependent on the psychological state you are in at the moment.
Self-Fulfilling Prophesy is commonplace because one’s psychological state influences state-dependent phenomena in predictable ways. People who do not believe in themselves tend to perform in ways that confirm their original bias; the same is true for people who do believe in themselves. People with social anxiety tend to perform poorly in social settings, and Bernie, who believes everyone is trying to screw him so he better screw them first, is surrounded by people who are continually trying to screw him.
In each of these examples, an individual’s subjective reality influences how things play out in the objective world. And, in each case, real-world performance was influenced by unintentional trance formation. Intentional Trance Formation [also known as Hypnosis] refers to purposely changing your psychological state in order to influence state-dependent phenomena including perception, motivation, and behavior.
Hypnosis is not fundamentally different from ordinary experience; all experience is trance phenomena. We are always in one psychological state or another [hungry, angry, lonely, bored, sexually aroused]. The only thing unusual about a formal hypnotic induction is that the state change is elicited intentionally rather than by events that happen.
To sample a formal trance induction now, please click here. By paying close attention to the script and focusing on the visual stimulus [feel free to let your eyes close at any time], you will evoke an altered psychological state.
But you do not need a formal induction to evoke a trance formation. Consider the following thought experiment:
Thought Experiment: The Emergency
Imagine that you just got a message that someone in your family had been seriously hurt in an automobile accident and you must get to the emergency room right away. Your biological state would change immediately and you would run or drive there as fast as you could, heart pounding, thoughts racing, and experiencing great distress. When you got there and discovered the report was untrue, you would experience relief, a very different trance. Objectively, the report was never true, yet it had a great impact on your physical and emotional state.
In this example the State-Dependent Phenomena—including motivation, perceptual bias and response tendencies —were determined by the subjective reality that existed in your mind, not by what was objectively true.
Your subjective reality is a creative fiction that you are continually inventing. To be sure, your overt behavior becomes part of world history (and so can never be undone), but the trance that gives birth to it is purely subjective and does not exist outside your consciousness.