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Why Being Lost In A State Of Trance Is Not Always A Good Thing

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By Shweta Madaan:

All of us have heard about hypnotism sometimes. This word is derived from the Greek word Hypnos which means sleep. Hypnotism is a means of bringing on an artificial state of sleep to the participant; actually, it is not sleep but a reduced consciousness while one is awake. It is a psychological tool used by many doctors, dentists, psychiatrists and therapists to achieve everything from anaesthesia without anaesthetics. It is a powerful mystic tool which was only used by witchdoctors and shamans in the past. One can experience a sense of being separated from their body, experience illusions or go into a mystical state if hypnotized, the hypnotized person comes under the will and command of the hypnotizer. The person gets neutralized and is suggested to believe and do whatever is asked by the hypnotizer. It can affect the mind as well as the body; any person in a hypnotic state is vulnerable.

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Hypnosis is the process of hypnotizing, it does not mean someone is waving a pendulum in front of someone’s eyes and making that person believe what they are saying. All of us are in a hypnotized condition for many times daily while watching TV or reading a book. It is a time when our normal awareness is reduced and attention is directed toward a specific mental idea, problem, physical stimulus or any fantasy; it is called a state of trance. It is somewhat like detachment from reality. It is a quality of human being and it has helped in the evolution of what human beings are today, one begins to focus on a particular thing and puts all his attention towards it. Some signs of being in a state of trance are when you feel a slight pause in an immediate activity, a facial expression of distraction, a peculiar glassiness of the eyes with a dilation of the pupils, failure to focus, a slowing down of heart rate and breathing and narrowing of attention and an intentness of purpose.

Sometime back, hypnotism was widely known for treatments; the first task of every psychologist is to soothe the patient and then reassure him/her of treating. They use hypnotism as a tool because they can better analyse the mental condition of the patient’s brain. Once the psychologist finds the root of the problem, they make the patient aware about it in such a manner that they get a feeling of being cured. They can also learn to hypnotize themselves as a part of therapy to reduce chronic pain, improve sleep or alleviate the symptoms of depression or anxiety. For centuries, it has been used for pain control. (During the Civil War, army surgeons hypnotized injured soldiers before amputations. Many researches have been done to find out its effectiveness and it has been confirmed as an effective tool to reduce pain. During therapy, a patient is deliberately put into a state of illusion by a hypnotherapist. The therapist’s voice is focused and becomes part of the experience as the patient’s attention is turned inwards. The attention towards the outside world decreases and becomes less prominent. This suggests that hypnotism is a great tool but it can be harmful too.

The idea of one man being able to control the will of another person is really dangerous, especially when used by an unscrupulous man. The subject is so mysterious and so are its consequences that it is shocking to know that this art of hypnotism is used in criminal activities.

– You might have often heard of cases where a person would go up to a cashier of a department store or a teller of a bank, talk to them for a few minutes and then they would immediately hand over money. When questioned, they have no memory of what happened.

– Other examples are – a woman under hypnosis was given a real gun loaded with blanks and was told to shoot her mother and she pulled the trigger.

– In another case, a girl was told to put arsenic in a friend’s food. The substance was really a harmful powder but she was not aware of that.

– A lady was going on the road and someone asked her for some address by showing her a slip of paper. After half an hour, that lady realized that she became unconscious and her gold bangles, chains and money were missing. She could only recall that at that time she herself handed over her jewellery to the person and he gave him cash but that cash was just a bundle of plain papers and that person was now nowhere to be found.

– Some days ago, one of my neighbours told me that when he was waiting at the bus stop, a woman came to him with some silver ornaments. She was in a pitiful state and said that she wanted to sell that silver to get some cash for her daughter’s marriage. Out of kindness, my neighbour bought those ornaments and then only realized too late that he neither had those ornaments nor his watch and money.

So, it seems that a person under hypnosis can be made to do something against his or her will. There are a lot of nefarious examples of using hypnotism in crimes.

One really feels helpless in this situation. They feel devastated upon learning all of this because every person is vulnerable to fall into this trap. You cannot tell whether the people you saw walking on the roads, at your workplace or even in your own home are hypnotized or not. It is an art which was discovered for serving the society but nowadays, it is used for doing the opposite. Its misuse can only be prevented if people start taking it seriously and be serious about its effects, both positive and negative. It must be used only for socially beneficial purposes like curing dreadful diseases and in operations so that patients need not bear much pain. It must be banned everywhere else but the irony is that we cannot be sure about its use as it is not something visible. One of the simplest measures which appear helpful is strong will power. However, we cannot control it but we can prevent it to some extent by being headstrong. The people who are misusing it must listen to their conscience before doing any such activity and use it for better purposes.

Photo Credit: DiaboloSpinner via Compfight cc

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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