The Trance of Me
Most of us who work as hypnotherapists or indeed any kind of therapist will be familiar with the phenomenon of people who are trapped in a script; the script may say â I can’t lose weight whatever I doâ, or âI can’t be happy with anyoneâ etc. Â People continuously seek to create a story about âmeâ that, charts and explains the facts of their life as they experience them. Bargh & Chartland (1999)5 summarizing years of research into subliminal cues and unconscious priming effects, concluded that âthe ability to exercise conscious, intentional control is actually quite limitedâ Wegner and Wheatley went further suggesting not only that unconscious goals are more powerful but that conscious will is a fiction!
However the conscious mind has to find a way to coherently explain, why we behave as we do. If an individual functions well there will be integration between conscious and unconscious minds, but where there is conflict there will be pain. Not only that but the pattern becomes a kind of trance, and what I refer to as the story of me becomes a way of maintaining that trance or perhaps more accurately collection of trances. When we work transpersonally we do so from a presupposition that there is more to the person than the problem trances that they present to us, which they have become so identified with, that they believe them to be themselves. Â Our job is to wake them up from this trance of a limited self and help them to experience their higher / deeper /truer / self /soul.
So here we are posing a model of the unconscious, as un- conscious in so far as it is outside of current awareness; as in Robert Assagioliâs map of consciousness it can contain both problematic elements, (e.g. The part that runs a phobia) and elements that are infra or supra conscious, containing the potential for greater Wisdom and compassion and energy.
Our chief job is to awaken people from identifying with the various limited and problematic trances to such an extent that they come to believe that, âwell that’s what I am like, I canât change thatâ.
If we can loosen this fixed sense of self through our work we can create the space where the client can begin to experience the richness of this truer self. Techniques such as time line, future pacing, and regression can be seen to be effective because in order to be able to imagine a different self/future we have to let go and dis-identify with our fixed view of our self.
Bargh, John A. and Tanya L. Chartland. 1999. The Unbearable Automaticity of Being. American Psychologist. Vol. 54, No. 7, 462-479.