Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cloudy With a Chance of Trance

Yesterday’s entry dealt with the physical (Second Life dancing). Today, let’s talk about the mental…hypnosis, to be precise. Hypnosis is a poorly-understood phenomenon, even in Real Life and even among its practitioners. Its effects are so variable that some people disbelieve in it entirely; others concede its existence but maintain it is merely self-delusion or playacting. Still others are True Believers. I’ve always been fascinated by it myself, and based on my personal experiences and those of many friends I am convinced that it is a real (if frustratingly unreliable) mental state.

Hypnosis is available in Second Life. Because of the relationship between the hypnotist and her subject, it generally falls into the D/s (Dominance/submission) area, and in SL it is almost exclusively used for erotic roleplay. In fact, there’s a rather large gray area here. I am sure that some SL hypnosis participants are only roleplaying…while others treat it, and experience it, on a much deeper and more profound level. It can be hard to tell, even when you yourself are the subject. I remember talking in IM to a girl while she was hypnotized. She was perfectly capable of IM’ing. She told me she was not sure she was “really” in trance, but was a little surprised to find herself following all of the hypnotist’s suggestions.

Like other “alternative lifestyles”, hypnosis in SL is relatively safe. You are unlikely to find yourself so deeply in trance that you completely lose all judgment. So you don’t need to be worried that you’re going to babble your credit card number while you’re “under”. I don’t like that word, “under”, by the way. It’s a poor description of the trance experience. Everyone experiences trance differently, but it’s not a state of unconsciousness. It’s more a state of relaxed, focused attention. You don’t “fall asleep”. In fact, if you do the trance is over, because once you close your eyes you can’t see the hypnotist’s words any longer!  Of course, that doesn't apply if you are working in Voice, but even so, hypnosis is not sleep or unconsciousness.

There are two ways to experience hypnosis in SL. One way is to use one of the several types of “trance machines” that you can purchase or find in various hypnosis-related areas. Using these is similar to using a dance machine. You click it to get a menu of the trance scripts it has available and select one. Then you sit in the machine. A spiral or other pattern appears on your screen, along with text. You simply relax and read the text, following its suggestions and letting it guide your feelings and your imagination. You can stand up and stop at any time. I always tell people who are curious to try the machines first – you don’t have to worry about another person, it’s completely private and under your own control, and it gives you a good idea of how you yourself respond to a hypnotic induction and suggestions.

The second way is to find a hypnotist and do a live, one-on-one trance session. Because the hypnotist can tailor the trance to your particular needs and reactions, this is a more powerful and effective method. It also means that you must find a hypnotist whom you can trust and whose methods and preferences are a good match for you.

In case you were wondering…I’m a hypnotist (as well as, from time to time, a subject). I’m not a psychologist nor do I have formal training – I’m an amateur. However, I’ve almost always had positive reports from my subjects. I will not do therapy; I use hypnosis for fun and enjoyment only. And if you are thinking of calling me up and asking, I’m not giving my services away any longer. Hypnosis is a very time consuming activity and I only have so much time in world. If I agree to take you as a subject, the rate is $L1,000 per hour after an initial free trance to see if we are compatible.

As I’ve said before, SL is a great place to explore your self as well as the virtual world around you. This is just one more way of doing that. Here are some hypnosis landmarks for those who wish to explore further.

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