|Saint Teresa was a prone to spontaneous|
states of ecstasy.
When the demand for his services had reached its height, Mesmer proceeded to "magnetize" a large elm tree on the estate of his patron, the Marquis de Puysegur, a few miles outside of the city of Paris; and great crowds would often gather to stand under the tree, either to derive the benefits if its healing power for themselves or simply to observe the dramatic results which were apparently produced in others.
Events were to take yet another turn when a retarded peasant lad of twenty-three named Victor Emmanuel was brought to stand under the now-famous elm tree, in the hope that the "magnetic rays" which were supposedly emanating from the tree might also be of some benefit to him. As many retardates are apt to do when they are placed in a situation in which they are not quite certain what is expected of them, Victor, though he remained standing, promptly utilized the occasion to avail himself of a quick nap. Other patients standing under the tree, seeing Victor asleep on his feet, apparently perceived this event as merely another result of the strange mesmeric rays emanating from the tree; for they promptly began to feel drowsy and to "fall asleep" themselves, thereby initiating a change in the form of suggestion-induced trance experience which heralded the death of mesmerism and the birth of traditional forms of hypnosis.
|Hypnosis immediately became an object of fascination.|
Today, we no longer need to rely upon the model of trance behavior provided to us by a sleeping retardate over two hundred years ago, when much better models are available. A hyperempiric induction is based on suggestions of mind expansion, enhanced awareness, and increased responsiveness and sensitivity, in contrast to traditional hypnotic inductions based on expressed or implied suggestions of lethargy, drowsiness, and sleep. (Gibbons, 1973). Hyperempiric inductions, or "alert hypnosis," has been found to be just as effective as traditional hypnotic inductions in facilitating subsequent responsiveness to suggestion (Bányai, & Hilgard, 1976; Gibbons, 1975, 1976). But this time, we didn't have to wait for another historical accident to come along. I simply made it up!
Bányai, E. I., & Hilgard, E. R. (1976). A comparison of active-alert hypnotic induction with traditional relaxation induction. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 85, 218-224.
Phillips, B. D. (2007). Tranceplay: Experimental approaches to interactive drama involving experiential trance. Journal of Interactive Drama, 2.1, pp. 15-55.
Sacerdote, P. (1977). Applications of hypnotically elicited mystical states to the treatment of physical and emotional pain. The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 25(4), pp. 309-324.
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