Dopaminergic and Serotonergic Genotypes and the Subjective Experiences of Hypnosis

Hypnotizability is related to the Val158Met polymorphism of the COMT gene. The authors’ aim was to find associations between candidate genes and subjective dimensions of hypnosis; 136 subjects participated in hypnosis and noninvasive DNA sampling. The phenomenological dimensions were tapped by the Archaic Involvement Measure (AIM), the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory (PCI), and the Dyadic Interactional Harmony Questionnaire (DIH). The main results were that the “Need of dependence” subscale of AIM was associated with the COMT genotypes. The GG subgroup showed higher scores, whereas AA had below average scores on the majority of the subjective measures. An association between the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism and the intimacy scores on the DIH was also evident. The effects are discussed in the social–psychobiological model of hypnosis.

Funding

The preparation of this article was supported by the Hungarian Scientific Research Funds (OTKA 109187 and K100845).

The Pioneering Work of Enrico Morselli (1852–1929) in Light of Modern Scientific Research on Hypnosis and Suggestion

This article examines research on hypnosis and suggestion, starting with the nineteenth-century model proposed by Enrico Morselli (1852–1929), an illustrious Italian psychiatrist and psychologist. The authors conducted an original psychophysiological analysis of hypnosis, distancing the work from the neuropathological concept of the time and proposing a model based on a naturalistic approach to investigating mental processes. The issues investigated by Morselli, including the definition of hypnosis and analysis of specific mental processes such as attention and memory, are reviewed in light of modern research. From the view of modern neuroscientific concepts, some problems that originated in the nineteenth century still appear to be present and pose still-open questions.

A Neutral Control Condition for Hypnosis Experiments: “Wiki” Text

A new control condition called Wiki is introduced. Key themes of each test suggestion of the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C, were matched by a corresponding extract from Wikipedia.org. The authors compared phenomenological reports of participants across 4 conditions: hypnosis split into high and low hypnotizable subgroups, music, and Wiki condition, using the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory. High hypnotizables undergoing hypnosis reported higher altered experience and altered states of awareness than individuals in the Wiki condition, supporting the authors’ hypothesis that the Wiki condition does not evoke an altered state of consciousness (internal dialogue, volitional control, and self-awareness did not differ). Wiki might be a viable control condition in hypnosis research given further examination.

Funding

This work was supported by the Hungarian Scientific Research Funds (OTKA 109187 and K100845).

Feasibility of Music and Hypnotic Suggestion to Manage Chronic Pain

The authors investigated the feasibility and possible effects of hypnotic suggestion and music for chronic pain. Ten people completed the 2-week intervention that consisted of daily listening to hypnotic suggestions combined with music. Averaged subjective pain intensity, pain bothersomeness, overall distress, anxiety, and depression decreased from baseline to endpoint. Participants rated pre- and postlistening pain intensity and pain bothersomeness decreased for each session. Information provided during end-of-study interviews indicated all participants were satisfied with treatment and felt they benefited from being in the study. Means and standard deviations are reported for outcome measures and a case study is provided. This preliminary study supports the use of a combined hypnotic suggestion and music intervention for chronic pain.

Hypnotizability and the Peripersonal Space

High hypnotizability is associated with left-sided cerebral asymmetry, which could influence measurement of the Peripersonal Space (PPS). Right-handed participants with high (highs, n = 20), medium (mediums, n = 9), and low hypnotizability scores (lows, n = 20) performed the line bisection test on a computer screen automatically displaced at distances of 30, 60, and 90 cm from the subjects’ eyes. Highs’ results showed rightward bias of the bisection (Relative Error, RE) for all presentation distances. In contrast, in lows RE was displaced leftward at 30 cm and exhibited a progressive rightward shift at 60 and 90 cm, as occurs in the general population. Mediums’ RE values were intermediate between highs’ and lows’ values. Bisection Times (BT) were significantly longer in highs/mediums than in lows. Findings indicate that the highs’ bisection identifies PPS as if it was extrapersonal, but further studies should assess its functional characteristics. The highs/mediums longer BT suggest less efficient sensorimotor performance.

Funding

Research funded by University of Pisa (Fondi di Ateneo, 2013).