I had a friend once who became a brilliant hypnotist because he walked in his sleep as a child. Eventually the sleep-wallking led his mom to take him to a hypnotherapist. The hypnotherapist must have had a positive impact on the sleepwalking, although the story he mostly told was of how she let him watch whole episodes of Spiderman in his mind.
It sounds a little like the beginning of a novel, only a little less improbable, perhaps than the story of the most famous hypnotist in Canadian literature (Paul Dempster/Magnus Eisengrim in Robertson Davies' Fifth Business trilogy). That novel begins with the determination of boys to overcome childhood struggles and achieve power as adults.
Did the man I knew become a great hypnotist because his mother took him to a hypnotherapist, or because his mind was so restless and so curious that it was wide awake even in his sleep? If it were a novel, the writer might know for sure. In Fifth Business the lines of influence are clear and elegant. Hypnosis is one answer to the way that rigid consciousness tries to limit and oppress the marvellous, random creativity of unconscious process.
The paradox is that great hypnotists appear to be even more authoritarian than the authorities who discipline or terrorize little boys. They are larger than life, with voices that move easily through different tones and colours and with imaginations that stretch wide or become laser sharp in the precision of their observation of particular human minds at work in particular human bodies. Great hypnotists free minds for exploration by keeping the body uncannily still.
The man I knew was once a little boy watching Spiderman in his mind. He opened his eyes, and learned to be as curious about the play of the mind in the body as he had been about the play of superpowers. He could do magic with his voice, make the room disappear and pull changes from trance back into the waking world. He could give himself up to the patterns and play of unconscious process.
He taught me how to spin words into a deep, relaxing peacefulness. When the body hurts, it feels good to be still. When it feels good to be still, the mind can wonder and wander. Until the drive to move overcomes the trance and calls the mind back into the body.
We give up trance for the power to move our minds and our bodies. We give up trance to make choices that make a difference. Like Spiderman, we all wake up in bodies that are stickier than we thought.