The enduring myth of hypnotic depth

One of the cooler hypnotic metaphors is around depth.

You know, as in, “you are going deeper and deeper into trance with every breath…”

But what does that mean, exactly?

If you do a little research, you’ll find some interesting charts and tables. They might give different hypnotic states a number – say, 1 is your normal waking state and 5 is the Esdaile state (an intense experience that can look like someone is going through a pleasurable exorcism).

And they’ll say things like, if you want someone’s hand to stick to the table, you need a 2. For resolving minor emotional issues, you need a 3.

You’ll see this in blogs and even some research articles.

The idea is simple enough:

Hypnotic trances, like any mental state, can be more intense or less intense. Same with happiness, really, only we call more intense trances ‘deeper’ than less intense ones.

And like happiness, the more intense the experience, the more things can happen. A little happiness might make you crack a smile, while achieving a lifelong dream will make you flushed, giddy and literally jumping for joy.

So the idea is you need a certain intensity of trance to create certain outcomes. Someone who is so phobic of spiders that they pass out whenever they think of one, needs a deeper trance than an on-again-off-again smoker looking to finally quit.

It’s a sensible idea.

But it’s pure nonsense.

In a more intense trance – that is, a deeper one – you’re more likely to see spontaneous hypnotic phenomena. I’ve experienced them all, everything from not being able to move my arm to photorealistic memories surfacing to writhing on the floor, unable to control my body.

And deeper trances feel more dramatic. It’s like the difference between meditating for five minutes and meditating for 90. The former is a pleasant mental reset, while the latter takes you deep into your own psyche.

With deep trances, you tend to become less aware of the outside world and more aware of your own experiences.

But it’s just a question of odds.

You don’t need a deep trance to experience hypnotic amnesia. If you’ve ever forgotten something you should know – something like a person’s name, even if you were just thinking it a moment ago – then you’ve experienced this.

And holding something (like a drink, phone or cigarette) for a long time leads to arm locking. Your arm is elevated for a while, yet it’s so comfortable you don’t even notice it.

If you tried to hold your arm like that, it would start to get tired… but you can do it without thinking.

As for using hypnosis to achieve an outcome…

Any issue can be resolved at any depth of trance. Crippling trauma and PTSD can vanish in a trance so light that the subject didn’t even know they were being hypnotised.

And some hypnotists like to resolve simple issues, like helping folks quit smoking, with deep, intense trances.

It comes down to the hypnotist and the subject.

So, sure, hypnotic depth is a thing. Some trances are easily more intense than others. But it’s a myth to think that intensity means much.

I like to use light trances with people.

They’re easier to create, less confronting for people, faster and just as effective. Then again, I’m open to requests. If you want to go deep inside yourself, I can make that work too.

Want to see what I mean?

Book yourself a session here – the Neural Reset is nice, light and potent:

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