The idea of
some people being in deeper hypnotic trances than others and what that really means is still debated in
Some people report that their experiences of trance allow them to experience a deeper experience than what they or other report before them. What it means to “Go deeper” is that they are able to get further removed from their immediate surroundings and senses than others. This means that what they experience is that they hear and feel very different things than is going on in the room as they are in trance. They no longer hear the noises in the room, may visualise or hallucinate; their sense may feel internally and emotionally different too. When asking individual subjects how one experience of trance compares to another that they have experienced, they report that each experience of trance often has a very different set of sensations than the previous ones.
The range of
experiences that someone in trance says it feels like can vary from it feeling like no real difference from just closing your eyes,
whilst the most detached experience that those hypnotised describe is being totally unable to remember anything that has taken place during the trance experience. Whilst they are hypnotised their bodies may go completely rigid, with arms and legs stuck solid in one position, or as the picture above shows even the whole body can become so rigid that it can be balanced between two chairs.( Due to the damage this can do to the neck, this practise has now stopped).
For those people who re-orientate to the room with no recollection of events, they report that they had no recollection of the therapist’s voice and return to the room puzzled about what they have experienced. For some people they can experience a level of distance from their immediate surroundings so great that they may demonstrate a catatonic state whilst in trance, appearing rigid and as some stage hypnotist demonstrate can be laid prostrate across chairs with the participant not reporting any immediate effects.
There have been lots of research into the deeper hypnotic trances people can and do, experience; and the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale is one way of measuring this. This scale is intended to measure how deep a subject can go in trance, however as already outlined; people get different depth of trance with each experience. So regardless of how deep people have reported going, each experience can be and will be different.
Some people do present as only ever having a light trance experience. This is common with people who are anxious about the process of trance. Once this anxiety is addressed they report that they are able to go deeper. Not everyone can experience deepest hypnotic trances, that of being rigid or “catatonic” states. So it is true that some people report they are unable to go as deep as others.
In terms of therapeutic effect, going deep into trance or just lightly into
trance does not impact on how effective the post hypnotic suggestions, those
messages which are designed to help people make positive changes are received
and acted on.
When a group of subjects are guided into trance together, using the same technique, the same person, in the same room and at the same time you would expect the subjects to report similar experiences, given that they have experienced precisely the same event. Predictably, this is not the case. People report different experiences of trance, from light to catatonic depth of trance.