Meditation and Hypnosis: Two Sides of the Same Coin?

Hypnosis and meditation, as a whole, form a heterogeneous complex of psychosomatic techniques able to control mind and body regulation. Hypnosis has been pragmatically used for limited therapeutic targets, while eastern meditation has much wider philosophical and existential implications, aiming for a radical liberation from all illusions, attachments, suffering and pain. The available data on the history, phenomenology, and neuropsychology of hypnosis and meditation show several common features, such as: (a) induction based on focused attention; (b) capability to reach an intentional control of both vegetative-somatic activities and conscious-unconscious processes; (c) activation/deactivation of several brain areas and circuits (e.g., the default modality network and pain neuromatrix) with a relevant overlapping between the two.

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.