Milton Erickson and Linn Cooper in their book, ‘Time Distortion in Hypnosis’ conducted a series of experiments in order to explore the phenomena of expansion of one’s sense of time. They would induce a trance whereby they would then give the person they were working with suggestions that were designed to give them the experience having more time than they really did. They would then be assigned a task that they were to accomplish in a given hypnotic reality and told how long they would be given to accomplish the task. They would then be given a starting signal and an end signal by which they were to immediately cease taking anymore action in their assigned task at which time they would then report back to Erickson and Cooper as to their progress.
For example in one experiment subjects would be instructed that they were in a room sitting at a table and that there was a box of pennies in from of them. They were to begin to pull them out and put them one by one on the table and were to count the number of pennies as they put them on the table. They were TOLD that they were going to be given ten minutes to accomplish this task. In actuality they were given anywhere from 10 seconds – 1 second to accomplish the task through multiple trials. With each trial the subject would make it into the hundreds when it came to counting.
During some other tasks some subjects were given similar counting tasks in which they were TOLD that they would be allotted a certain amount of time and then in ACTUALITY they were given far less quite often as little as 3 seconds to accomplish what they were suppose to do. Quite often it was found that people could complete their task with as little as 3 second BUT when Erickson would cut their time even further people were unable to complete their task nearly as well as they had previously. The interesting thing to me was when Erickson brought them out of trance everyone of them had elaborate explanations for why they had not fared as well in the completion in this task as previously.
I think there is an interesting parallel between these rationalizations that would occur when people were in hypnotic trances and with clients. Whereas a client will come to a changeworker with very sound reasoning and logic and all sorts of explanations regarding their particular problem as subject in one of these hypnotic trances could explain what occurred in their situation in equally convincing terms. In both instances their explanations are equally real and in both instances they are equally fabricated.
Time is a prevalent aspect of any experience regardless of whether you’re looking into the future, focusing on your past, living in the now or even having a timeless experience. Many techniques in personal development center around making use of one’s personal history in order harvest resources that may be applied to the present moment and past that in the future.
There are varying time frames such as the past, present and the future. A pattern by Robert Dilts makes use of an existing resource state that is then taken into the future so that the person experiencing it can feel it grow with them into future to a designated age. That feeling as matured as it is then is brought back into the present and the process is repeated again and again until that resource state crosses a threshold and shift in a different and quite often interesting state that can then be apply to various areas on one’s life.
Milton Erickson along with Linn Cooper conducted many experiments regarding the use of time distortion in order to expand one’s sense of time. For example there was a gentleman that was working two jobs and going to school. One of the jobs was that he was a singer. Given that he worked so much he was unable to put in sufficient time in order to practice his singing. It had gotten so bad in fact that this individual’s boss told him at his first opportunity that he would have him replaced. Erickson had inferred that given the nature of the club’s atmosphere given that this individual would have to sing and then get a break, sing and then get a break that perhaps time distortion would be a suitable intervention for this individual.
What Erickson did was induce a trance state and to tell instruct the individual that from now on whenever he took a break between sets that he would be able to in the period of 10-30 seconds sit down and in his mind in his own special personal time be able to practice extensively all aspects related to his singing and it would feel like he had been practicing for an adequate period of time. He further elaborated that given the hallucinatory nature of his practicing and the brevity of it in real world time that his co-workers would only think that he was self absorbed in thought. From there Erickson gave this individual amnesia for the session and the nature of the work that they had done.
The client reported back to Erickson stating that he didn’t know what happened but that his performance singing had improved and that his boss said if he kept it up that his position would be assured. A few weeks later this same individual informed Erickson that his employer had given him a raise.
Change Personal History is a pattern in which some is taken to a experience that happen previously in their personal experience and they are then told to step out of it to an observer position and to make note of that experience and what personal experiences, resources that they now have that they could apply to that experience in order to bring it a more resourceful conclusion in their experience. As the resources at identified and anchored the person is then told to associate into the experience while the resource anchors are fire and the person is then instructed to mentally grow up with this new resources in place and to notice the changes that occur in their personal history as they go through their personal history with these changes in mind.
All these examples are examples of different ways that distorting one’s perception of time can affect a person’s life in a positive and resourceful way.