Stage hypnosis takes two basic forms. Several people are invited onto the stage, where the ‘hypnotist’ puts them into a trance. This is where you have one or more on the ground, quacking like ducks or on their hands and knees acting like dogs. This is not hypnosis, but pure entertainment.
However, the other type, where someone goes into a trance, lying on the backs of two chairs while another person is standing on their stomach, is definitely hypnosis. (Unless you’re an expert, don’t try this at home. It’s really not too good for old back!).
The person who has been hypnotized is particularly good and/or experienced at ‘tuning out’ all outside noise and distraction, so that the hypnotist himself puts him into a state of catalepsy.
Now, there are two meanings to this word as far as we are concerned, although they both have the same end result. Catalepsy is a medical term in which a nerve condition causes a person’s muscles to become rigid and fixed. This can be duplicated by hypnosis. The person is then moved to two chairs, the backs of which face each other, and stands on these backs, with the ankles resting on the back of one chair, while the neck rests on the back of the other.
They are completely rigid. The hypnotist then walks up a short block of steps so that he or she can step on the subject’s stomach and simply stay there without the subject “leaning” in between. The person remains absolutely rigid.
When we consider the dream state, the reason why this ‘trick’ is possible becomes clearer. Dreaming is the deepest trance state there is. When you see an Australian aborigine standing on one leg for hours, what he is apparently capable of, could very well be an ability to achieve autocatalepsy. You hear them talk about ‘dream time’. They may have a highly developed ability to use hypnosis to simulate the dream state. I don’t know. I am simply dismissing these ideas as possibilities.
Our brains have this amazing ability to mimic reality. Since it is quite common for a hypnotized person to vividly experience an imagined reality, it clearly shows why hypnosis works.
During hypnosis, REM, or rapid eye movement, dreams are frequently noted. Dreaming, as we have seen in previous articles, is the brain’s way of cleansing itself of emotional arousal. Therefore, it is easy to understand how useful hypnosis can be in helping people with certain mental conditions, especially those that fall into the emotional category.
The traditional way to hypnotize someone is to balance a clock in front of their face. I myself know that looking at a swinging pendulum can help bring me into a very focused state.