E: But you formed mental images, and later you formed mental images of words, of faces, of places, of objects, of a great many mental images.
R: Thus far there is no question of an altered state of consciousness or trance; it is just a shift of his focus of awareness.
E: The shift of the focus of awareness.
R: Where now does the altered state of consciousness come in? Do we need the concept of an altered state of consciousness or is it just a shift in the focus of awareness that is involved? Maybe that is all hypnosis is: a shift in the focus of awareness.
E: All hypnosis is, is a loss of the multiplicity of the foci of attention.
R: I see. A loss of the multiplicity of the foci of attention. Is that the monoideism of
Braid? You really agree with that?
E: Except it isn't just a monoidea, but all the multiple foci of attention; the desk, the birds, the bus have all been eliminated.
R: Okay, now would you define this loss of multiple foci of attention as an altered state of consciousness, or is this just a game of words?
E: It's an altered state of consciousness in the same sense as you experience in everyday life when you are reading a book and your wife speaks to you and you make no immediate response. You are obviously experiencing some sort of altered state involving time distortion when 10 minutes later you answer, "Did you speak to me?"
R: That's the sense in which hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness; the same as that experience of absorption in reading an interesting book.
E: It is a lack of response to irrelevant external stimuli.
R: That's the altered state of consciousness that constitutes trance: deep absorption on a few foci of inner experience to the exclusion of outer stimuli.
E: And to use it for therapeutic purposes, it must be maintained.
R: Part of the art of the hypnotherapist is in maintaining that trance state.
E: Yes. You deal with that altered state in any way you wish, but you are keeping that altered state.
R: That's the purpose of many of your verbal suggestions to the patient—trance maintenance.
E: I never really made up my mind whether the rhyme of "faces" and "places" was important in maintaining trance. But all these words, faces, places, and objects—there are so many in his past. In anybody's past. And I'm really enlarging that altered state of consciousness to permit the entry of words, faces, places, and objects.
R: That interesting little book, Hypnotic Poetry (Snyder, 1930), certainly suggests the importance of rhyme and rhythm in trance. By adding these other words you are reaching into his memory banks; you are bringing other memories and associations into the realm of the trance focus, for whatever values they may have for maintaining the trance and laying down an associative network for therapeutic work.
E: Yes, and making it possible to enlarge that altered state. But it is all within him; nothing from his outer environmental situations is important while he is focusing within during this trance work.
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For anyone concerned that this is a report designed to teach readers how to convince crowds of people to act like chickens or dance to an unheard song just with a carefully placed keyword - relax. While hypnosis is often paraded in that form with large crowds visiting celebrity hypnosis experts to see what wonders they can perform, the majority of hypnosis used is to aid people seeking a solution to a problem they cannot resolve easily with any other method.