One of the interesting things about hypnosis that might appeal to those who are seeking a more theoretical analysis of how/why it works is to consider the difference between confessional and procedural poetry. If a confessional poem is “an expression of intimate, and sometimes unflattering, information about details of the poet’s personal life, such as in poems about mental illness, sexuality, and despondence” (nice nutshell description via Wikipedia), then a procedural poem is the opposite: a poem that arises not from the poet’s personal experience, but from a method designed to generate the language of the poem (like throwing dice.)
I was struck reading Lytle Shaw’s interview with Harry Matthews (one of the motivating forces behind the procedural movement called Oulipo) that he framed his work psychologically. In response to Shaw’s question, “do you still find some kind of political liberation in the idea of readerly participation” Matthews replied:
“I’d like to say at the beginning that the approach that I found in Raymond Roussel — getting to material though arbitrary, game-like procedures — was primarily a way that allowed me to get myself out of the place where I was stuck — feeling and thinking certain ways about the world, confronted with the huge difficulty of working directly from that into the production of the text. The playful procedures gave me something completely different to do and moved me onto another terrain from which I could come back to the material, whatever that might be. I also found very early on that using such procedures allowed me to be much less censorious of myself, of my own experience, because the work of the super-ego, the work of the critical consciousness, shifted from worrying…. to solving the problems of the procedures.”
What Matthews is describing here –finding that his world-view changed when he shifted his focus from writing “about” his thoughts/feelings about the world to solving “playful procedures” — is exactly what can happen in hypnosis. Like the language-game procedures that entices Matthews and other writers/artists, hypnosis is a playful way to distract the mind from it’s habituated patterns of inner-reflection, which often have the tendency to run amook in confusion and doubt.
So it is in shifting your mind from repeating the stories that got you stuck in the first place, to exploration and play that can access the forms, forces, and dynamics of your experience at this moment. And just noticing this will change your mind.