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).

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).

Hypnotism as a Function of Trance State Effects, Expectancy, and Suggestibility: An Italian Replication

Previous research using step-wise regression analyses found self-reported hypnotic depth (srHD) to be a function of suggestibility, trance state effects, and expectancy. This study sought to replicate and expand that research using a general state measure of hypnotic responsivity, the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory: Hypnotic Assessment Procedure (PCI-HAP). Ninety-five participants completed an Italian translation of the PCI-HAP, with srHD scores predicted from the PCI-HAP assessment items. The regression analysis replicated the previous research results. Additionally, step-wise regression analyses were able to predict the srHD score equally well using only the PCI dimension scores. These results not only replicated prior research but suggest how this methodology to assess hypnotic responsivity, when combined with more traditional neurophysiological and cognitive-behavioral methodologies, may allow for a more comprehensive understanding of that enigma called hypnosis.

Expectancies and Hypnotic Responsiveness: An Experimental-Design Flaw Revealed

Recent research suggests that expectancies about being hypnotized have a determinant role in the hypnotic experience. The authors analyzed the relationship between expectancies and the phenomenology of hypnosis using the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory and Hypnotic Assessment Procedure. Participants (115) were assigned either to the imagination (hypnosis labeled as imagination) or the hypnosis conditions. Results revealed only a minor influence of expectancies and none on the label “hypnosis” across all variables. These findings indicate that the methodology commonly used to study the influence of expectancies on hypnotic responsiveness and phenomenology might represent a flaw in favor of a causal relationship between expectancies and hypnotic experience.

Are Hypnosis and Dissociation Related? New Evidence for a Connection

The authors revisit the question of the existence of a relationship between hypnotizability and dissociative capacity. In the present study, the State Scale of Dissociation (SSD) replaced the commonly employed Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES) as a measure of dissociation, due to the latter capturing primarily pathological aspects of dissociation. Relationships between the Harvard Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, Form A (HGSHS:A), the SSD, and the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory (PCI) were assessed in the context of hypnosis. Robust results were found when comparing pre- to post-SSD scores, suggesting heightened nonpathological forms of dissociation are indeed related to hypnotizability. The appropriateness of the DES and similar trait-based measures for evaluating hypnotic phenomena is discussed as well as the relationships between PCI and SSD subscales.

Feature-Based Coding System: A New Way of Characterizing Hypnosis Styles

In this pilot study, the authors introduce a new system to assess hypnosis style. The Feature-Based Coding System (FBCS) comprises 24 standard individual hypnosis sessions, which were videotaped and coded according to both a previous and the new coding system. In addition, both subjects and hypnotists filled the Archaic Involvement Measure (AIM), the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory (PCI), and the Dyadic Interactional Harmony Questionnaire (DIH). The interrater agreement of FBCS was good and the construct Maternal-Paternal Axis had a good internal consistency (α = .95). Construct validity was also supported by the findings. Based on these results, a larger scale study is warranted to further establish the reliability and usefulness of this tool.