• What is hypnosis?
  • What role does imagination play in hypnosis?
  • What is the relevance of "dissociation" to hypnosis?

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What is the role of hypnosis in the creation of false memories?

What is the difference between formal and "disguised" hypnosis?

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There are, however, some intriguing data on questions that need to be researched more extensively. One such finding is that pain reduction bears a probabilistic relationship to hypnotic susceptibility -- the more hypnotically responsive a person, the better the betting odds that s/he will obtain substantial pain relief from hypnosis. This has been found in both experimental (Hilgard & Morgan, 1975) and clinical settings; in the clinic, hypnotizability has been a major factor in the successful treatment of headache and vertigo in skull-injured patients (Cedercreutz, Lahteenmake & Toulikoura, 1976), and in the treatment of migraine (Cedercreutz, 1978). Hypnotizability may be linked, also, to the successful reduction of the frequency and intensity of asthma attacks (Collison, 1978).

What are some of the clinical successes and failures with hypnosis?

How is hypnosis used in entertainment, therapeutic, and forensic contexts?
Josephine Hilgard coined the term imaginative involvement to highlight this particular position. In similar vein, Sutcliffe emphasized delusion in a descriptive sense to point to the manner in which fantasy may take on reality value for some hypnotized individuals, and becomes accepted by them as having happened in actuality. Likewise, Theodore Sarbin and William Coe emphasized the role of imaginings that become believable. In each case, the thrust is in terms of imaginings that become so vivid and intense that the person in hypnosis may not be able to distinguish them from reality, and may come to believe that they are actual occurrences. This position is aptly summarized by Auke Tellegen (1978/79). He wrote: "It is the ability to represent suggested events and states imaginatively and enactively in such a manner that they are experienced as real."


What are some current controversies in hypnosis?

Responsivity to a placebo, or sugar pill, is as valid an operational measure of suggestibility as one is likely to find. If hypnosis is no more than a matter of suggestibility, there should be no difference between response in hypnosis as opposed to response in a placebo condition, though one might expect differences between high and low hypnotizables. McGlashan, Evans and Orne (1969) sought to examine this question by comparing groups of high and low hypnotizables in conditions of hypnotic analgesia and placebo, in a study of response to ischemic pain. In both analgesia and placebo, subjects had a tourniquet placed on a forearm while pumping water from one container to another. This procedure milks the blood from the veins of that arm, and yields some quite elegant measures of work and effort, since the longer that an experimental subject can continue to pump water, the more one can say that his (all subjects were men) performance is unhindered by the rapidly mounting pain of ischemia.

There is research support for this position. A study conducted by Tellegen & Atkinson (1974) has demonstrated that hypnotic responsivity is related to the ability to become absorbed in imagining such things as the setting of the sun, or the smell of ripe oranges. Further, data collected by Cheryl Wilson and Theodore X. Barber (1982) has identified a subset of high hypnotizables whom they characterize as fantasy "addicts;" that is, as individuals who spend as many of their waking hours as possible engaged in fantasy and imagination.

What are the main scientific journals of hypnosis?

A number of other theorists of hypnosis have emphasized the role of fantasy and imagination, but have placed less stress on the role of absorption, though they all agree that reality testing may be suspended and belief may be altered. Ernest Hilgard (1977) has emphasized dissociation, and views hypnosis as involving multiple, overlapping systems of cognitive control, some of which may not always be available to conscious awareness and which may tap into fantasy processes. Martin T. Orne (1980) views hypnosis as involving alterations, even distortions, of perception, mood and memory. In similar vein, Judith Rhue and Steven J. Lynn (1989) view highly hypnotizable individuals as highly prone to fantasy.

Why are some people more susceptible to hypnosis than others

By the same token, it is correct to say that people who respond positively to a hypnotic procedure are suggestible -- but only at the descriptive level. Suggestibility describes what they do; it does not explain why they do it. To understand why they do what they do, a rationale needs to be developed which differentiates the people who respond to most hypnotic items, regardless of difficulty, from those who respond minimally, if at all. Returning to weaver birds, it is true that they build distinctively shaped nests and that this behavior suggests the existence of a nest-building instinct. The mechanism that underlies this instinct needs to be documented independently, so as to avoid circular reasoning. By an identical logic, the same can be said about the mechanisms that underlie response to hypnosis, and about high and low levels of this response to it.

definition of hypnosis as a “procedure ..

Nicholas Spanos and Theodore X. Barber (1974) conceptualize it as "thinking along with and experiencing suggestion related imaginings." Unlike other investigators, their emphasis is upon hypnotic behavior as being entirely voluntary and rational, even though hypnotic behavior, at least among high hypnotizables, appears to be an admixture of voluntary and involuntary behavior, in which rational and non-rational components are fused.