The Experience of Trance
Trance is a word that conjures up many associations. This chapter explores some of these associations, the major intention being to develop a general sense of trance as a pervasive and naturalistic phenomenon. The first section outlines major theories of trance, starting with 19th century speculations and then proceeding onward to presentday proposals. The view is taken that the various proposals can be seen, for the most part, as complementary to each other. The second section expands the discussion to distinguish the experience of trance from the specific ritual of hypnosis, emphasizing trance as a cross-contextual and pervasive phenomenon with profound therapeutic potential. The third section overviews some of the phenomenological aspects of the experience of trance, noting how such aspects apply to both symptom phenomena and trance phenomena. The final section briefly discusses how the therapeutic use of trance can be organized into the four steps of (1) creating a context (preparation for trance), (2) making the transition (development of trance), (3) promoting transformations (utilizing the trance), and (4) consolidating learnings (concluding and extending the trance).