What is Trance ?

Trance ([ trɑ̃s ]; from Latin transire “to pass over, to go beyond”) is a collective term for altered states of consciousness with an intense mental experience. In contrast to ordinary waking consciousness, these states are characterized by the following features:

  • a highly focused concentration on a process
  • with simultaneous very deep relaxation
  • an elimination of the logical-reflective mind

Trance states can be either:

  • voluntary (e.g. visual imagination in daydreams, self-hypnosis, shamanic techniques)
  • through (authorized) external suggestion (hypnosis)
  • sustained attention to monotonous stimuli (e.g. vigilance, mental deepening, orgasm) or through
  • diseases (pathological trance and possession states) and drugs.

Apart from the last two trances mentioned, the will and a special trigger are necessary conditions for the emergence of trances. In addition, the person’s cultural or religious background has a decisive influence on the type and depth of the state.

Every trance is associated with a narrowing of consciousness to varying degrees: Sensory perceptions and the sense of personal identity – the ego consciousness – are temporarily severely restricted or completely blocked out.


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