Hypnosis and the Enneagram
people are hypnotized, they demonstrate capacities called hypnotic
phenomena. For instance, trance subjects will frequently forget the
experience they had while hypnotized much like the rest of us forget
our dreams when we awaken in the morning. This is the hypnotic
phenomenon of amnesia.
While there are about twenty “official” hypnotic
phenomena agreed upon by researchers, all of them are intensified
versions of natural behavior. In everyday life we have little bouts of
amnesia when we forget facts, or names that we usually know, lose track
of our car keys and so on.
Within certain Enneagram styles, however, amnesia is
a general tendency. Nines, for instance, practice an ongoing daily
defensive amnesia; in their waking trance Nines forget their personal
priorities, needs and goals. Other Enneagram styles are also prone to
amnesia but Nines practice it as a central defense. All of us forget
names but Nines forget their selves.
Each Enneagram style uses specific hypnotic
phenomena to support its open-eyed trance. Learning how to identify our
hypnotic phenomenon is valuable because different kinds of trances
require different approaches to awakening. The hypnotic phenomena for
each Enneagram style are explained in-depth in the chapters on the
styles. These are the most important:
Hypermnesia. The opposite of amnesia. Instead
of forgetting things, hypnotic subjects can experience vivid lifelike
memories and relive past experiences in especially intense detail, as
if the past is present again.
In waking life we experience hypermnesia when we
hear music that takes us back to another era of our life. Couples will
sometimes share vivid memories when they hear music they associate with
meeting (“They’re playing our song.”) Sometimes strong memories will be
triggered by smells, like the smell of your grandmother’s cooking.
Hypermnesia is a key ingredient to what’s called “living in the past“
as well as when we get momentarily lost in reminiscence and nostalgia.
Within certain Enneagram trances, hypermnesia is a
habitual tendency. Fours often practice it when they shy away from
present reality and live in beautiful memories. Sixes often have
hypermnesia for what was frightening in the past, using their vivid
memories to justify their present fears and scare themselves about the
Trance Identification refers to our
unconscious capacity to partly or completely assume the identity of
another person. Hypnotic subjects are sometimes encouraged to use their
depth of imagination to pretend they are someone else. This is used
therapeutically to help the client imagine what it would be like to be
someone without his or her problem or someone else who has abilities
that the client lacks.
We practice trance identification in everyday life
when we have a heroine, hero or someone who has skills or capacities
that we admire. We identify with that person, and try to follow their
example, imagining what it would be like to be them. All children
trance identify with their parents, for instance, and it is intrinsic
to how they learn.
Twos, Threes and Fours are especially prone to
trance identification. When they are confused about the difference
between who they are and the roles that they play, they often pretend
to be someone they are not. This can be an outside person or an
idealized version of themselves but in either case they identify with
someone who they don’t truly feel themselves to be.
Positive Hallucination. We habitually pay
attention to only a fraction of our awareness, invariably perceiving
only some of what’s in front of us, deleting the rest and filling in
the gaps with our imaginations. Positive hallucination means seeing,
hearing or feeling things that aren’t physically present.
Hypnotic subjects are capable of unusually vivid
perceptions of people and things that are not there. Someone in a
trance could open her eyes and see her long-dead grandmother in a
nearby chair, as real as life. A hypnotherapist might then use the
client’s hallucination to help her resolve an inner difficulty.
In daily life we practice positive hallucination
when we use our imagination to see things that aren’t present. Some
people decide where to go to dinner by visualizing imaginary dishes of
food and then tasting them. Architects are paid to see buildings that
don’t yet exist. Someone redecorating their living room may see
imaginary furniture and color schemes.
In a broad way, all Enneagram styles positively
hallucinate but Fives, Sixes and Sevens are especially prone to it when
they project their fear and power. Fives hallucinate social
expectations while fearful Sixes have vivid imaginations for negative
possibility – paranoia, for instance, is based on positive
hallucination. Sevens hallucinate options, plans and possibilities and
live in imaginary futures to escape the present.
Negative hallucination. Hypnotic subjects can
also practice negative hallucination – not seeing what’s there. Under
hypnosis people can open their eyes and be unable to see someone who is
physically present. This is used therapeutically to desensitize clients
to uncomfortable stimuli, or to help them get over phobias and
obsessive behavior by teaching them to ignore environment al triggers.
People who wear glasses sometimes forget they are on
their nose. Drivers sometimes fail to see plainly visible Stop signs.
In everyday life we practice negative hallucination when we look for
our car keys and later discover them in plain sight; or when we stand
at the open refrigerator and say, ”Where is the juice?” while family
members laugh and point at the juice in front of us that we can’t
All Enneagram styles practice negative hallucination
– everyone selectively deletes some part of their awareness in favor of
others. But Eights, Nines and Ones are especially prone to it; all
three styles tend to overlook the obvious and negatively hallucinate
their own priorities, needs and selves.
Age Regression. Another common hypnotic
phenomenon practiced in waking life is age regression – the experience
of subjectively becoming younger than your years. Milton Erickson
defined age regression as “the tendency on the part of the personality
to revert to some method or form of expression belonging to an earlier
period of personality development.” That describes what we do whenever
we have a psychological problem: a part of us is trapped in the past,
coping in the best way he or she knows how.
When hypnotic subjects remember and relive memories
(hypermnesia) they often begin to act as though they are the age they
were at the time of the remembered incident. A hypnotherapist might use
age regression to take a client into the past and help them resolve an
old difficulty by reliving it. Or create new memories that change the
client’s experience of her history. Age regression is used in many
different psychotherapies under different names.
In real life we age regress when we react to someone
in the present as we once responded to our parents or childhood
teachers. When we find something extremely funny the child in us also
comes out. If you have ever spent long periods of time around small
children, you probably began to think and even talk like a child. When
you next encountered an adult there could have been a moment of
adjustment as you returned to grown up thinking and talking.
All Enneagram styles are capable of age regression
and most psychological difficulties have a frozen-in-time component to
them. However, age regression is especially relevant to specific
personality trances. Twos, Fours, Sixes and Sevens are generally more
liable to feel childlike, victimized, helpless or enthusiastic in an
Age progression. The opposite of age
regression is age progression – feeling and acting older than your
years. Therapists use age progression to help clients imagine a new
level of maturity within themselves or to “time travel” into a future
in which they have grown beyond their present limits.
All Enneagram styles are capable of age progression
but Eights, Threes and Ones are especially prone to it. People with
these styles often come from families where there are power or
competence vacuums that a child is invited to step into. The child
becomes a little adult, taking on the manner and responsibilities of
someone older. Later, as adults, they may remember their childhoods as
short or even nonexistent.
Generally, if you are prone to habitual age
regression then you need to learn to age progress, at least up to your
actual age. Age regressed people do not, for instance, need to get in
touch with their “inner child” but rather their “inner adult.” Age
progressed people, by contrast, usually need to get in touch with a
young self that they have psychologically hidden away.
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