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Title: An%20Introduction%20to%20Hypnosis

An Introduction to Hypnosis
  • Society of Psychological Hypnosis
  • Division 30 American Psychological Association
  • Take notes!!

An Introduction to Hypnosis
  • I. What is Hypnosis ?
  • II. Common Myths about Hypnosis
  • III. Theories of Hypnotic Responding
  • IV. Key Theoretical Controversies in Hypnosis
  • IV. Hypnotic Suggestibility
  • VI. Hypnosis as a Clinical Tool

I. What is Hypnosis ?
  • A. Defining Hypnosis
  • B. Components of a Hypnotic Procedure

A. Defining Hypnosis
  • Hypnosis is a procedure involving cognitive
    processes (like imagination) in which a subject
    is guided by a hypnotist to respond to
    suggestions for changes in sensations,
    perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  • Sometimes? people are trained in self-hypnosis,
    learn to guide themselves through a hypnotic
  • Psychologists hold a wide variety of opinions on
    how to define hypnosis and on how hypnosis works.

B. Two Components of a Hypnotic Procedure
  • It is useful to think of a hypnotic procedure as
    consisting of two phases or components
  • Hypnotic Induction
  • Hypnotic Suggestions

What is a Hypnotic Induction ?
  • An introduction to hypnosis ? the subject is
    guided through suggestion to
  • Relax
  • Concentrate
  • Focus his or her attention on some particular
  • Some hypnotists believe ? purpose of the
    induction is to induce an altered state of
  • Others believe it is a social cue that prompts
    the subject to engage in hypnotic behaviors.

What is a Hypnotic Suggestion ?
  • The subject is guided to undergo changes in
  • Types of Hypnotic Suggestions
  • Ideomotor Suggestions experience a motor
  • Challenge Suggestions subject is told he or she
    will not be able to do some particular thing and
    then is asked to perform the prohibited behavior.
  • Cognitive Suggestions experience changes in
    sensations, perceptions, thoughts or feelings.

II. Common Myths about Hypnosis People in
  • lose control and can be made to say or
    do whatever the hypnotist
  • may not be able to come out of hypnosis.
  • Hypnosis
  • only affects weak-willed or gullible people.
  • reliably enhances the accuracy of memory.
  • enables people to re-experience a past life.
  • depends primarily on the skill of the hypnotist.

III. Important Theories of Hypnotic Responding
  • Psychoanalytic Approach
  • Neodissociation Approach
  • Socio-Cognitive Approach
  • Transpersonal Approach

A. Psychoanalytic Approach Freuds Model of
  • Freud initially utilized hypnosis to help remove
    psychosomatic symptoms
  • Patients suffered from what we would now call a
    somatoform disorder.
  • Patients suffered from medical complaints
  • seizures
  • muscular spasms
  • paralysis of their limbs that was transient
    and/or was not thought to be the entirely the
    result of a general medical condition.

Freuds Model of Personality
  • Divided into 3 parts- Id,
  • Ego, and Superego
  • Believed that hypnosis
  • allowed him access to
  • memories within the
  • patients unconscious mind
  • which had been previously
  • repressed (blocked)

Freuds Model of Hypnosis continued
  • Learned that he could temporarily or permanently
    reduce many of these symptoms using direct
    hypnotic suggestions for the symptoms to be
  • Your arm is calm again and will no longer
  • Eventually? Freud used free association instead
    of hypnosis as a way of accessing the

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B. Hilgards Neodissociation Approach
  • Recent psychoanalytically-oriented theory.
  • Developed by Ernest Hilgard.
  • Theory Under hypnosis, part of the mind enters
    an altered state of consciousness.
  • A second dissociated part of the mind--designated
    the Hidden Observer-- remains aware of what is
    going on during a hypnotic session.
  • Part of the mind in an altered state of
    consciousness very open to hypnotic

B. Neodissociation Hidden Observer
  • Discovered in highly hypnotizable subjects during
    dissociative tasks such as hypnotic deafness and
    hypnotic pain analgesia.
  • If queried? some subjects could nevertheless
    give realistic accounts of the dissociated
    experience as if a hidden observer was present
    within the person watching the whole time!

B. Hilgards Neodissociation Theory
  • These dissociations evidence of separate
    cognitive subsystems that were operating during
    the experiment.
  • The concept of a totally unified consciousness
    is an attractive one, but does not hold up under
  • Ernest R. Hilgard (1994)

A Socio-cognitive take on Neodissociation
(Criticisms of Hilgards approach)
  • Hidden Observer was created by the subject in
    response to the hypnotic instructions given by
    the experimenter. (Spanos Burgess, 1994)
  • Self or identity is constructed, role-governed,
    and performed (Lynn et al., 1994) as a
    narrative process in which we come to construct
    our experience as that identity as a believed-in
    imagining (Sarbin, 1998).

C. The Socio-cognitive Approach
  • Principles of social psychology
  • explain behavior during hypnosis.
  • Not a single theory? a group of theories.
  • Examples
  • Role Theory people naturally adopt the role
    behaviors of a hypnotized person.
  • Response Expectancy Theory hypnotic suggestions
    alter expectations for nonvolitional outcomes
    (e.g., pain). Such expectations ? then contribute
    to the experience of those outcomes (Kirsch,

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D. A Transpersonal Approach
  • Many of humanitys earliest views of hypnotic
    phenomena are described by various religious
    spiritual traditions in the world. (Krippner,
  • Shamanistic Healing Rituals
  • Exorcism and Demonology
  • Advanced meditative practices to achieve
    Mind/Body unity within mystical aspects of
  • Christianity
  • Tibetan Buddhism
  • Native American
  • Islamic Sufism
  • Jewish Kabbalah
  • Hindu Tantra.

D. A Transpersonal Approach
  • An important diversity issue since many people
    around the world hold these beliefs.

Class Demonstration
  • Chevreul Pendulum

IV. Two Key Theoretical Controversies in Hypnosis
  1. The State Controversy
  2. The Trait Controversy

A. The State Controversy
  • Do people enter an altered state of consciousness
    during hypnosis ?
  • Main dispute between the Neodissociation
    Socio-cognitive approaches.
  • Remains a hotly debated issue.

B. The Trait Controversy
  • Is there a trait that accounts for () or (-)
    people respond to hypnosis ?
  • Position on Trait Controversy is unrelated to
    ones position on the State Controversy.
  • Theyre NOT opposite poles of a single
    dimension or question.
  • Research evidence strongly suggests that there is
    a trait that explains how much people respond
    to hypnosis.

V. Hypnotic Suggestibility The Individual
Difference Variable
  • Hypnotic suggestibility is the general tendency
    to respond to hypnotic suggestions.
  • Can be measured with scales typically consisting
    of a hypnotic induction a series of behavioral
    test suggestions.

V. Hypnotic Suggestibility The Individual
Difference Variable
  • The number of test suggestions that an individual
    responds to or passes indicates the persons
    level of suggestibility.
  • It is a trait-like, individual difference
  • People differ in terms of how high or low they
    fall on suggestibility.
  • Scores in the population are arrayed in a
    bell-shaped curve.
  • Suggestibility tends to be very stable over time
    researchers found that scores taken 25 years
    apart were correlated at r .71.
    (correlations 0.0 -1.0 )

VII. Hypnosis as a Clinical Tool
  • Used 2 ways as a clinical tool
  • Making Direct Suggestions for Symptom Reduction
  • Using hypnosis as an adjunct to other forms of
    psychotherapy (e.g., CBT).

A. Making Direct Suggestions for Symptom
  • Ex. A hypnotist suggests to a patient
    undergoing a painful medical procedure
  • (e.g., surgery, a lumbar puncture, spinal
    tap) that the affected body part (i.e., the back)
    is numb and insensitive to pain.
  • This is a classic use of hypnosis.

Gate Theory of Pain
Pain reduction through hypnosis.
Example Hypnotic Analgesia
  • Hypnosis can alter and eliminate the
    psychological experience of pain and the brains
    neurophysiological processing of pain.
  • Data indicates that the sensory aspect of pain is
    diminished at the somatosensory cortex.
  • The suffering component of pain is diminished at
    the anterior cingulate cortex.

B. Presenting Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
(CBT) Hypnosis
  • Research suggests Combining hypnosis CBT
    improves outcomes for 70 of patients relative to
    using CBT alone! (Kirsch et al., 1995)
  • Additionally Preceding the CBT technique with a
    hypnotic induction, delivered with the unique
    tone and cadence of hypnosis, is successful
  • Ex.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation becomes hypnotic
  • Guided Imagery ? hypnotic imagery.
  • Systematic Desensitization ? hypnotic
  • Coping self-statements ? coping self-suggestions.

Some Clinical Problems Thought to Be Responsive
to Hypnosis
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Acute Stress
  • Acute and Chronic Pain
  • Phobias
  • Performance Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)
  • Smoking
  • Obesity

  • Once associated with fringe psychology and the
    supernatural? hypnosis is now accepted as the
    valid subject of scientific research and as a
    useful clinical tool.
  • Psychologists hold a wide variety of opinions on
    how to define hypnosis and on how hypnosis works.

  • Research strongly suggests that hypnotic
    suggestibility is a trait that accounts for a
    portion of how much or how little people respond
    to hypnosis.
  • However, research strongly indicates that the
    vast majority of people can benefit from hypnosis
  • Research indicates that hypnosis is very
    effective for treating a wide range of clinical
    problems and symptoms
  • (pain, anxiety, depression, obesity, and

  • The End!

Instructions for Chevreul Pendulum Demonstration
  1. Obtain scissors, string, and ½ inch washers at a
    hardware store.
  2. At the beginning of the presentation, distribute
    these materials to the class. Have students cut
    a 6-inch length of string and tie it to the
  3. Explain that you will be doing a demonstration in
    which students will have an opportunity to
    experience an imaginative suggestion.
  4. Have students place their right elbow on their
    right thigh and hold the string between their
    right thumb and index finger so the washer is
    suspended beneath.
  5. Have students hold their hand as still as
  6. Ask students to imagine that the washer is
    beginning to move from left to right. Continue
    repeating the suggestion until some washers begin
    to move. There will be a range of responses.
    Some students will show no response at all.
    Others will find that their washer moves quite a
  7. Cancel the suggestion by telling students their
    hands are back to normal.
  8. Ask students what this has to do with what you
    were just discussing.
  9. This should lead naturally to the next topic
    hypnotic suggestibility.