What was it like the first time you were tranced or tranced someone?
Actually, I should amend that to the first two times I was tranced. This is a story I often tell to persuade people that hypnosis is real.
In 1984, I attended a convention in Cleveland, Ohio. I primarily wanted to meet Marion Zimmer Bradley, the writer and creator of the Darkover novels and stories, but the real treat was in meeting Katherine Kurtz. I knew Katherine from her Deryni novels, a series of novels set in a medieval fantasy setting much like medieval Europe, where the magic is primarily used by the Deryni. The Deryni are a mutation from humanity which grants them psychic powers, including telepathy and telekinesis, plus what can only be described as magic. One of the telepathic talents used was the ability to induce a hypnotic trance state in unsuspecting or unwarded subjects. It should come as no surprise, then, that Katherine was trained as an Ericksonian hypnotist, and she regularly wrote that into her stories.
On the final day of the convention, Katherine and a few others participated in a panel on hypnosis, and as part of it, she did a group induction and two guided imagery sessions for the audience. I participated wholeheartedly and that is a memory I still treasure.
Which leads to the second time I was ever hypnotized.
A good friend of mine just finished training as a hypnotist, and I invited him to come to the monthly meeting of the local Doctor Who fan club, where performed a demonstration of hypnosis for the members of the club. (I should point out that we would watch a Doctor Who episode at every meeting: this time it was ‘Masque of Mandragora’, which has one of the most evocative hypnosis inductions ever.) After the meeting was over, I volunteered to do a more personal demonstration for another of the club members. He gave me the traditional post-hypnotic amnesia suggestion and brought me out of trance.
And that’s when I went into a fugue state.
I couldn’t think, I couldn’t speak: I could only mouth words that I didn’t know how to say. It only last for maybe 15 seconds before I was put back into trance and then the suggestion was removed.
I didn’t understand then but I believe I understand now what happened: my subconscious understood the suggestion to forget being hypnotized to mean forget ever being hypnotized, and my previous experience was something I definitely wanted to remember, so the two impulses were in conflict and my mind was frozen.
And those were the first two times I was ever tranced.