I took part in further hypnosis research this morning, and very fascinating it was too. The first part, if you recall, demonstrated that I’m highly suggestible, the second that I’ve got great frontal lobes. This, well, I’m not sure what part three showed other than that I might be a suitable candidate for an fMRI scan.

The inducement of a possible brain scan all of my very own (or rather the hope of a digital image of the result) was what got me involved in the first place. And of course nobody can promise anything. But I live in hope. I also await the assessment which will determine whether my “maintenance” dose of Citalopram will disqualify me from taking part. Oh, the agony! Imagine, so near and yet so far. I’m booked in for a scan this coming Saturday morning but unsure whether it will happen…

Even more tantalising is the discovery that the scientist in charge of the neuroimaging part of the study is – wait for it – a meditator. And extremely interested in the neuropsychology underlying meditation. And any links there might be between hypnotic and meditative states. Hot, hot, hot, hot damn. I would absolutely definitely stop taking my maintenance dose, if that prevented scans, in order to have something to do with *that* research. After all I only take it because the doctor suggested it was a good idea, not because I feel I need it. (See how keen I am?)

So. Today. It was at the Psychology Department at University College London and involved being hypnotised by a professor there in a space the level of shabbiness and disrepair of which (tiles hanging off the ceiling etc etc) I’ve come to expect of our prestigious centres of excellence (sigh). Then a series of very small movements of one hand under various different suggested conditions.

I’m not sure I’m qualified to say what it’s “like” being hypnotised, having only been so twice recently and once a couple of decades ago. But so far I would say it’s unlike any other experience I’ve had. It’s not like any meditative state I’ve achieved, that’s for sure. There’s an extraordinary passivity about it which, possibly because it’s so far from my normal mode of curious engagement, not to say ornery cussedness, I find rather delightful.

So the hypnotiser says “just sit there”, or words to that effect, and I just sit there. The thought passed, fleetingly, through my mind “how long might I just sit here entirely motionless other than breathing? how many hours?” but it passed and disappeared and I just sat there, how long for I have absolutely no idea. It’s the nearest experience I’ve had to being a machine, operated by someone pushing buttons. I’ve been *treated* like a machine, more than once and in several different circumstances, but this is qualitatively different, because I *choose* to allow it to happen under certain clearly defined circumstances over which, ultimately, I feel as though I have the ability to change should I wish to do so.

Anyway, enough of that. Navel-gazing taken to a new level! I still await the scanning-suitability-questionnaire and the results thereof. However even should I not be able to have a scan the other research tasks are more than fascinating enough to keep me coming back for more. If asked.

4 Replies to “Entranced”

  1. I hope you get to!

    I would just like to point out that “Suggestible Cussedness” would be a really good blog name. I wonder if it’s taken?

  2. I am so so jealous and would love to participate in something like this. How do you know if you are suggestable, what link this has with meditation, self hypnosis??? Especially if one’s normal personality is shall we say self opinionated as my family charmingly like to say. There must be aTEDTALK somewhere that reveals all, like your wonderful neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor…

  3. I think there are a number of tests online which claim to measure your hyptontisability. Otherwise there doesn’t seem to be much to go on apart from youth (ages 7-15 are the best apparently), the ability to get deeply absorbed in an activity like reading a book or listening to music. Or having experience dissociation as a response to a traumatic event, which may in fact go some way to explaining my own facility. Sadly I haven’t been able to track down the Jill Bolte Taylor of hypnosis. Such a thing would be deeply cool though so I’ll keep looking.

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