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January 2005 - English PDF Print E-mail


The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis
Volume 53, Number 1 - January 2005 - English


Gassner’s Exorcism—not Mesmer’s Magnetism—Is the Real Predecessor of Modern Hypnosis

Burkhard Peter

Abstract: Usually, Mesmer—notGassner—is considered to be the real predecessor of modern hypnosis and, consequently, of psychotherapy. The author questions this commonly accepted view and asserts that Gassner’s therapeutic approach was much more elaborate and psychologically oriented than Mesmer’s. In light of the present understanding of psychotherapeutic and hypnotherapeutic techniques, Gassner’s methods can be characterized as a special kind of hypnotic training in self-control. The author describes Gassner’s kind of exorcism and its similarities to hypnotherapy and goes into personal and socio-cultural factors relevant to the debate surrounding Gassner’s theory and procedure. It was the most heated dispute of the Enlightenment that took place in Munich around 1775 with Mesmer as an important part of it. The author discusses whether Father Gassner, rather than Mesmer, is the real predecessor of modern hypnosis.


Reality Monitoring in Hypnosis: A Real-Simulating Analysis

Richard A. Bryant and David Mallard

Abstract: The extent to which hypnotic suggestions are perceived as real is central to understanding hypnotic response. This study indexed the reality attributed to hypnotic suggestion through subtle projection of a visual image during simultaneous suggestion for a visual hallucination that resembled the projected image. Twenty real hypnotized and 20 simulating nonhypnotized participants were administered a hypnotic induction and given a suggestion to hallucinate a shape, and then the projected image was introduced. Following the hypnosis session, an Experiential Analysis Technique was employed to index experiential responses. Real, but not simulating, participants made comparable reality ratings when the projected image was absent and present. Reals, but not simulators, also reported more effort in maintaining belief in the suggestion when the projection was absent. These findings suggest that the reality attributed to a hypnotic suggestion cannot be attributed to demand characteristics.


Hypnotic Emotional Numbing: A Study of Implicit Emotion

Richard A. Bryant

Abstract: Twenty high hypnotizable and 20 low hypnotizable participants were administered a hypnotic induction and then presented with emotionally distressing and neutral visual images. Half the participants were administered a suggestion for emotional numbing. Participants were then asked to rate the valence of neutral words that were preceded by subliminal presentations of the negative and neutral images. Whereas highs who received the emotional numbing suggestion reported comparable ratings of the words following presentations of the negative and neutral images, highs in the control condition and lows in both conditions reported more positive ratings of words that were preceded by the negative stimuli. These findings suggest that the subliminally presented negative stimuli led participants to rate the subsequent neutral words more positively. In contrast, hypnotic emotional numbing diminished this pattern in highs. These results are discussed in terms of the influence of hypnotic emotional numbing at a preattentive stage of processing.


The Phenomenology of Deep Hypnosis: Quiescent and Physically Active
Etzel Cardeña

Abstract: To study the phenomenology of hypnotic virtuosos, the author employed a 2 (hypnosis vs. control) × 3 (quiescent, pedaling a stationary bike, having a motor pedal the bike) within-subjects design with quantitative and qualitative measures. In a “neutral hypnosis” context with the only suggestion being to go as deeply into hypnosis as possible, participants reported alterations in body image, time sense, perception and meaning, sense of being in an altered state of awareness, affect, attention, and imagery. They also mentioned less selfawareness, rationality, voluntary control, and memory. Analyses of the 3 physical conditions showed that hypnotic experiences were overall similar, although quiescence was more conducive to alterations of body image and reports of depth. These results suggest that hypnotic virtuosos have alterations of consciousness that can be better conceptualized as distinct states rather than being on a continuum.


“Hypnopuncture”—A Dental Emergency Treatment Concept for Patients with a Distinctive Gag Reflex

Stephan Eitner, Manfred Wichmann, and Stefan Holst

Abstract: The present case report describes a newly developed dental treatment concept for patients with a distinctive gag reflex. “Hypnopuncture” is a combination therapy of hypnosis and acupuncture. Its simple, fast, and effective application autonomous of the cause makes it a valuable tool for dentalemergency treatment procedures. Physiologic and psychological aspects of gagging are influenced at the same time. The protocol is illustrated in the case of a 76-year-old patient with a severe gag reflex who was successfully treated by this combination approach. Necessary and effective therapeutic measures from both acupuncture and hypnosis are portrayed.


A Long-Term Therapeutic Concept for Patients with a Severe Gag Reflex

Stephan Eitner, Manfred Wichmann, and Stefan Holst

Abstract: “Hypnopuncture” is a combination treatment of hypnosis and acupuncture. It proposes a therapeutic concept for long-term therapy for patients with a distinctive gag reflex. The concept is applied independently of the cause. In cases of emergency treatment in dentistry, the immediate compliance of a patient is of utmost importance. The long-term goal of any therapeutic measure is control of the gag reflex. A new treatment protocol is illustrated in the case of a 50-year-old patient with a severe gag reflex. After only 5 visits, dental treatment could be conducted without any auxiliary means. Hypnosis is applied in the form of “hypnosedation” (not as psychotherapy), while stereognosis occupies a central position for desensitization.


Salient Findings: A potentially groundbreaking study on the neuroscience of hypnotizability, a critical review of hypnosis' efficacy, and a close look at the neurophysiology of conversion disorder.
Michael R. Nash
University of Tennessee

Abstract: Three papers of special interest to researchers and clinicians alike have recently appeared in the general scientific and medical literatures. Two of these articles are original research studies that employ brain-imaging technologies, one using MRI, the other PET. A third article is a comprehensive review of the empirical findings on the clinical use of hypnosis in pediatric oncology. The research study using MRI technology is extraordinary, because it the first to document differences in brain morphology between high hypnotizable and low hypnotizable subjects. Arguably, if these findings replicate, the study could be the most important since the development of the Stanford scales 45 years ago. The PET study notes differences in brain activations during intentionally simulated and subjectively experienced paralysis. The review article critically examines empirical work addressing the efficacy of hypnosis for procedural pain in pediatric oncology.

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