Can you be Stuck in a Trance? | Myths about Hypnosis

A thing that makes some people reluctant to try hypnosis is fear of the unknown. That’s especially likely to be true if all you know about hypnosis is what you’ve read in books or seen at the cinema. Now you’re being asked to go into some stranger’s office, and let that stranger put you into an altered state and peek into your mind.

It doesn’t help that there are a lot of myths and half-truths about hypnosis. One common concern is this: What if I go so deeply into a trance that I never come back out?

Not to worry. There has never been a recorded instance of anyone going into a trance, no matter how deep, and not being able to come out of it.

For starters, most useful trance states are not all that deep. You are not going to go over the edge and fall into some mysterious shadowland of no return. Most of the time you will be completely, if a little distantly, aware of everything going on around you. You will be in touch with your body, and how relaxed it feels. You will hear what the hypnotist is saying. If your hypnotist uses music as part of the trance induction, you will hear it. If your eyes are closed, you will be aware of that, and know that you could open them if you wanted to.

Now, in some cases, you might slip into a really deep trance, the kind referred to as somnambulistic, where you have no conscious awareness of your body or your surroundings. Not to worry. Even in a trance that deep, a part of you is always aware of what is going on around you, paying attention to what is happening, and ready to pull you back into conscious awareness if need be.

Let’s imagine the worst: You are in a super deep trance, in another world mentally, and your hypnotist has a massive heart attack, slides to the carpet, and dies on the spot. What would happen then is that you would stay in your trance a while longer, then gradually move from hypnosis to normal sleep, and eventually wake up.

The reason for that is a thing called homeostasis, which is the tendency of any system—in this case you—to want to keep on being pretty much the way it usually is. Being in a deep, somnambulistic trance is not at all usual, and so, left to their own devices, your mind and body will find their way back to a normal state of consciousness.

So when you walk into the hypnotist’s office, not only can you look forward to a positive experience, you can be sure that when it’s over you will be able to walk back out again.

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