Friday, November 6, 2009

You are under my power . . . Erotic Hypnosis and BDSM

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #377, November 6, 2009)

Focus your attention on the swinging pocket watch. You are getting very sleepy . . . you are under my power . . . you will now quack like a duck . . .

That’s what most people think when they hear the word “hypnosis.” But some folks in the leather/BDSM/fetish community are discovering different, and more interesting, uses for hypnosis and trance.

The eleventh annual Hypnocon gathering was held in Minneapolis Oct. 9-11. Focusing on recreational hypnosis by men and for men, it attracted recreational hypnosis enthusiasts from across the U.S. (It was held the same weekend, and in the same host hotel, as Gaylaxicon 2009, a GLBT science-fiction/fantasy/horror convention.) There’s also a Hypocon event in the UK.

One of the organizers of this year’s Hypnocon was a gentleman named Mark Warner (not the senator from Virginia), who told me how recreational hypnosis differs from stage hypnosis or therapeutic hypnosis: “It’s personal and private. It often has a sexual edge. It places emphasis on trust and connection, and it creates an exchange that challenges and reveals.”

The focus of this year’s Hypnocon was education about hypnosis and opportunities to experience trance in a safe and sane environment. According to Warner, “The event wasn’t a hypnosis performance. It was a learning event for guys who were curious and it was a social event for guys who let trance enhance their lives.” (Warner emphasized that clinical hypnosis, also called hypnotherapy—which people might use to quit smoking or lose weight—“is a serious field of practice. That ain’t us.”)

Hypnosis is a natural addition to a BDSM tool box because it adds a whole new dimension to the concept of power exchange. Under hypnosis a person can vicariously yet convincingly experience scenes and fulfill fantasies that either would not be possible or would not be safe if attempted in reality. In Warner’s opinion, “Recreational hypnosis transcends BDSM. It’s limited only by imagination and the resources of memory and emotion.”

Warner also points out that recreational hypnosis can add spice and depth to fantasy and fetish roleplaying for people interested in vampires and werewolves, for men who want to explore being feminized, for masters wanting to reinforce a submissive mindset in their slaves, for those interested in transforming into a robotic (“bot”) state, for devotees of puppy or pony play, or for those exploring many other leather/BDSM/fetish interests: “For all these areas, recreational hypnosis is an outlet. And that’s important because we all have strange desires from time to time.”

Next year’s Hypnocon #12 will be held in Seattle.

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