Ability of Hypnosis to Facilitate Movement Through Stages of Change for Smoking Cessation

On the basis of the transtheoretical model of change, we hypothesized that hypnosis would facilitate significantly greater movement through the stages of change toward smoking cessation in contrast to psychoeducation. Thirty participants were pretested for hypnotizability using the Elkins Hypnotizability Scale (EHS). Participants’ readiness for change was assessed using the University of Rhode Island Change Assessment scale (URICA). The EHS relaxation induction was used to induce hypnosis. Hypnotic suggestions addressed motivation and ambivalence. The URICA was administered following the intervention and at a 10-day follow-up. Two-factor split-plot ANOVAs showed significant changes within groups on the contemplation subscale (p = .002), action subscale (p = .00007), and the number of cigarettes smoked per day (p = .003).

COMT Genotype and Sensory and Sensorimotor Gating in High and Low Hypnotizable Subjects

We investigated the association between hypnotizability, COMT polymorphism, P50 suppression ratio, and prepulse inhibition of acoustic startle response (ASR) in 21 high (HH) and 19 low (LH) hypnotizable subjects. The frequency of Met/Met carriers of COMT polymorphysm was higher in HH than in LH group (33.3% versus 10.6%, p = .049). Increased ASR amplitude and latency and decreased prepulse inhibition at 120 ms lead interval were found in the HH compared to the LH group. The effect of COMT genotype on prepulse inhibition was observed in LH group only. No between-group differences in P50 measures were found. The obtained results suppose the participation of dopamine system in mechanisms of hypnotizability and different allocation of attentional resources in HH and LH subjects.

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.


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

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.


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

Hypnotic Tactile Anesthesia: Psychophysical and Signal-Detection Analyses

Two experiments that studied the effects of hypnotic suggestions on tactile sensitivity are reported. Experiment 1 found that suggestions for anesthesia, as measured by both traditional psychophysical methods and signal detection procedures, were linearly related to hypnotizability. Experiment 2 employed the same methodologies in an application of the real-simulator paradigm to examine the effects of suggestions for both anesthesia and hyperesthesia. Significant effects of hypnotic suggestion on both sensitivity and bias were found in the anesthesia condition but not for the hyperesthesia condition. A new bias parameter, C’, indicated that much of the bias found in the initial analyses was artifactual, a function of changes in sensitivity across conditions. There were no behavioral differences between reals and simulators in any of the conditions, though analyses of postexperimental interviews suggested the 2 groups had very different phenomenal experiences.

Group Hypnotizability of Inpatient Adolescents

This study investigated group hypnotizability in 167 adolescents (ages 13-17) in an inpatient behavioral healthcare setting through use of the Waterloo-Stanford Group Scale, Form C. It also investigated the influence of hypnotic inductions on group hypnotizability. Adolescents were randomly assigned to either a group session of hypnosis (n = 84) with a hypnotic induction or a comparison “no-induction” group (n = 83) that received identical suggestions without a hypnotic induction. Adolescents’ imaginative absorption and dissociation were measured to examine their influence on hypnotizability. A between-group comparison showed the induction condition had a significantly higher score than the no-induction group on both behavioral and subjective measures of hypnotizability.

Effects of Hypnosis on Regression to Primary Process Thinking

The authors tested the hypothesis that hypnotic age regression produces a shift from secondary to primary thought processing in hypnotizable participants. Thirty participants were tested for hypnotizability using the Elkins Scale of Hypnotizability (EHS). Participants were exposed to a tailored hypnotic arm-levitation induction and a hypnotic suggestion to age regress to 5 years of age and to have a dream. Primary-process thinking was assessed using the Primary-Process Thinking Scale. An independent t test with 2 levels of hypnotizability (middle and high) showed high hypnotizables demonstrated higher ratings of primary thought processing than those in the middle group.

The Elkins Hypnotizability Scale: Assessment of Reliability and Validity

Measuring hypnotizability is an integral part of hypnosis research and also relevant for predicting the effectiveness of hypnosis-based therapies. The Elkins Hypnotizability Scale (EHS) was designed to meet the needs of modern hypnosis research and clinical practice. Reliability, validity, and normative data were explored by subjecting 230 participants to the EHS and Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale: Form C (SHSS:C). The EHS demonstrated adequate internal consistency (α = .78), its items showed good discriminating ability, and scores of the two scales were highly correlated (rho = .86). Results indicate that the EHS is a reliable and valid tool to assess hypnotizability. Further research is needed to establish its role as a surrogate for the SHSS:C.

Asymmetric Tactile Foot Stimulation: How Postural Studies May Suggest New Views of Hypnotizability

Earlier studies have shown hypnotizability-related postural effects of visual suppression and of leg and neck proprioceptive alteration. This study completes this investigation by demonstrating the postural effects of asymmetric tactile foot stimulation in standing participants with different hypnotizability scores. During this stimulation, body sway changed in medium-to-high more than in low-to-medium hypnotizable participants. Findings support the view that high hypnotizability is associated with higher vulnerability of posture to sensory alteration; together with earlier results, they suggest a role of the cerebellum in the observed hypnotizability-related differences and prompt investigation of cerebral structures and factors potentially responsible for both the cognitive and physiological aspects of hypnotizability.

Complementing the Latest APA Definition of Hypnosis: Sensory-Motor and Vascular Peculiarities Involved in Hypnotizability

The aim of this paper is to complement the recently revised American Psychological Association definition of hypnotizability. It (a) lists a few differences in sensorimotor integration between subjects with high and low hypnotizability scores in the ordinary state of consciousness and in the absence of suggestions; (b) proposes that hypnotizability-related cerebellar peculiarities may account for them; (c) suggests that the cerebellum could also be involved in cognitive aspects of hypnotizability; (d) explains why the information derived from studies of sensorimotor and cardiovascular aspects of hypnotizability may be relevant to its definition and useful in orienting further experimental research in the field of hypnosis.