Question of Self-Hypnotism a.k.a. "Friend's Temple of Doom"

This is a question about a certain technique of what might be regarded as self-hypnotism and the possible results. I’m not asking if hypnotism is “real” or if it “works,” as has already been done in several threads: :slight_smile:

My friend Kelly and I went through a phase as pre-teens in which we were fascinated by hypnotism. Medical and psychological uses of hypnotism were not very popular at the time and we were interested in “going into a trance” for entertainment or to “see how it would feel.”

Somebody told us that a person could hypnotize himself or herself by rubbing one’s temples and counting backwards from 100 to 0. I wanted to try to guide my friend through hypnoses and ask her personal questions or encourage her to quack like a duck. :slight_smile: Kelly, however, suspecting my motives, decided that she would “hypnotize” herself. This sounded dangerous to me. Despite my warnings on venturing into serious things about which we knew nothing, she began to massage her temples and count backwards. “100, 99, 98, 97, 96, [insert numbers], 49, 48, 47, 46, 45, 40, 43, 30, 33, 27, 13,” she chanted.

"Stop, stop! You are loosing consciousness!, " I shouted. Kelly quickly snapped awake and we spent several weeks considering how I had “saved” her from entering an irreversible trance. We were convinced that she would have put herself into a state that would have been difficult to reverse if I had not intervened.

Long years passed; these days I relax myself to sleep by counting backwards, in my head, from 100 to 0. I don’t speak the numbers aloud or rub my temples. This finally brings me to the questions:

  • Was my friend introducing an abnormal, alternate “hypnotized” state of consciousness or was she just going to sleep?

*Would counting aloud and rubbing one’s temples be any different than silently counting backwards as I do each night?

*If Kelly was just going to sleep why was she still talking? Could I have asked her questions if I allowed her to continue counting?

*I now know that this would not have caused a frenzied trip to the emergency room with a comatose friend, but would it have been difficult for her to awaken?

I have a small amount of experience, having done a little bit of hypnosis in my life (and been hypnotized).

First, lets address the issue of trance: If she was in a trance, no, there whould have been no trouble in waking up. The trance state is quantitatively the same as being in a light sleep. If you just leave someone in trance, they’ll wake up naturally as one would from a nap.

Now, was she actually in a trance from your particular “technique”? I highly doubt it. In fact - it may have been she was about to faint. I don’t know the biology, but pushing on the temples and cut bloodflow to the brain and so that would be my hypothesis.

I would like to know how you arrived at this conclusion. I am unaware of any instance of this ever happening, so I am curious why you thought it might happen to your friend.

Thanks for the answer, Trigonal Planar.

Fear Itself, this was my 11 year-old self talking. It would perhaps have been better to have said, “You appear to be entering an alternate state of consciousness.” I see now that to say a person has lost consciousness would imply they were non-responsive.

My fear was provoked in response to her counting growing continually more distorted. Like I said, I know that nothing terrible would have happened, though I wonder what exactly would have occurred if she continued.

My best guess: Nothing. At worst, she might have dozed for a while. But she would have woken up, probably pretty quickly, and no harm done.

Even if she was truly cutting off bloodflow to her brain, she would have fainted and, in doing so, released the pressure on her temples, causing the brain to, once again, get enough oxygen, causing her to wake up pretty quickly.

If she had entered a trance, which may have happened, she would either have woken back up or just gone to sleep and then woken back up.

When I was much younger, we would gather in a group, and do this variation on the theme…

You would place your back against a wall, and bend over at the waist. Breath deeply while everyone counts to 10, then stand up quickly and you (or someone you have do it for you) places their hands across your corotid artery. Squeeze. After a few minutes (or less) your vision will go spotty, you loose the feeling in your extremeties, you get tunnel vision, and then you pass out.

We would then discuss the “visions” we had while out. Usually, I made mine up.