Hypnotherapy of a Pain Disorder: A Clinical Case Study

Hypnotherapy’s effectiveness in improving and controlling chronic pain of various etiologies has been demonstrated by studies; the mechanism by which hypnosis does this is more complex than a simple induction of muscle relaxation. This study reveals, in addition to this mechanism, a deeper dimension of hypnotherapy from the vantage of a patient with a medical-surgical background, diagnosed with a pain disorder and major severe depressive disorder in addition to incurable painful symptoms, through treatment associated with hypnoanalysis. Following psychotherapy, which included some elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy, a complete remission of the anxious-depressive mood and the painful symptoms was achieved.

Advancing Research and Practice: The Revised APA Division 30 Definition of Hypnosis

This article describes the history, rationale, and guidelines for developing a new definition of hypnosis by the Society of Psychological Hypnosis, Division 30 of the American Psychological Association. The definition was developed with the aim of being concise, heuristic, and allowing for alternative theories of the mechanisms (to be determined in empirical scientific study). The definition of hypnosis is presented as well as definitions of the following related terms: hypnotic induction, hypnotizability, and hypnotherapy. The implications for advancing research and practice are discussed. The definitions are presented within the article.

Imagery Vividness Before and During the PCI–HAP: A Partial Replication

This study sought to replicate an earlier study wherein imagery vividness before and during a phenomenological hypnotic assessment procedure was assessed, while also measuring trance (hypnoidal) state effects and several other variables. Correlational and regression analyses for that study suggested that imagery vividness during hypnotism was predicted by combined imagery vividness before hypnotism and trance (altered) state effects during hypnotism. The present study procured a larger sample employing a similar design and a similar subject pool. With the current study, although trance state effects and imagery vividness before hypnotism still significantly predicted hypnotic imagoic suggestibility (imagery during hypnotism), the variance accounted for was appreciably less. The meaning of these results as a function of the methodology used is discussed.

Mechanisms of Hypnosis: Toward the Development of a Biopsychosocial Model

Evidence supports the efficacy of hypnotic treatments, but there remain many unresolved questions regarding how hypnosis produces its beneficial effects. Most theoretical models focus more or less on biological, psychological, and social factors. This scoping review summarizes the empirical findings regarding the associations between specific factors in each of these domains and response to hypnosis. The findings indicate that (a) no single factor appears primary, (b) different factors may contribute more or less to outcomes in different subsets of individuals or for different conditions, and (c) comprehensive models of hypnosis that incorporate factors from all 3 domains may ultimately prove to be more useful than more restrictive models that focus on just 1 or a very few factors.

Hypnotic Relaxation Therapy for Reduction of Hot Flashes in Postmenopausal Women: Examination of Cortisol as a Potential Mediator

Hypnotic relaxation therapy (HRT) has been shown to reduce hot flashes in postmenopausal women and breast cancer survivors. While the biological mechanism by which HRT reduces hot flashes is unknown, it has been speculated that reduction of stress mediates the intervention’s effectiveness. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of HRT on a known biomarker of stress (cortisol) and changes in cortisol as a mediator. Sixty-two postmenopausal women received hypnotic relaxation therapy for hot flashes and completed measures of hot flashes in addition to providing cortisol samples at baseline and endpoint. HRT resulted in significantly decreased early evening salivary cortisol concentrations. However, changes in salivary cortisol concentrations did not mediate the effects of HRT.

Norms of German Adolescents for the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, Form A

The Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, Form A (HGSHS:A) has not been explicitly tested on an adolescent population. In this study, the German version of the HGSHS:A was administered to 99 German adolescents aged 15 to 19. In contrast to other studies, the gender distribution was relatively balanced: 57% female and 43% male. Results were comparable to 14 earlier studies with regard to distribution, mean, and standard deviation. Some peculiarities in contrast to the 14 previous studies are pointed out. It is concluded that the HGSHS:A can be used as a valid and reliable instrument to measure hypnotic suggestibility in adolescent samples.

Hypnotizability, Not Suggestion, Influences False Memory Development

Hypnotizability influences the development of false memories. In Experiment 1, participants heard a positive or negative suggestion regarding hypnosis and then listened to 8 Deese–Roediger–McDermott (DRM) false memory paradigm lists in a hypnotic state. Neither hypnosis nor prehypnotic suggestion affected memory. Highly hypnotizable participants were more accurate in recall and recognition. In Experiment 2, suggestions were delivered in the form of feedback. Participants heard a positive or negative suggestion about their performance prior to either the encoding or retrieval of 8 DRM lists. Neither accurate nor false memories were affected by the suggestion. Highly hypnotizable individuals recognized fewer critical lures if they received a negative suggestion about their performance. These results highlight the unusual role of hypnotizability in the creation of false memories.

In Memoriam: Edward J. Frischholz, PhD, January 14, 1956–May 10, 2014

We sadly lost our friend and colleague Edward J. (“Fast Eddie”) Frischholz, PhD, at the young age of 58. He died of heart failure, a complication of septic shock. He was a passionate advocate for the field of hypnosis, a tough monitor of its quality, a fine clinician, and an excellent researcher/statistician.

Ed received his BA summa cum laude in Psychology and English at age 19, and one year later his MS in Human Resources (Family Therapy, Biscayne College, renamed St. Thomas University, Florida, 1975 and 1976). He earned his MA in Psychology (Psychometrics) from Fordham University, New York, in 1980, and his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Illinois, Chicago Campus, in 1990. He did his clinical internship at Bellevue Hospital (New York University, New York, 1988). As a research associate with Dr. Herbert Spiegel, he studied the diagnostic and therapeutic implications of the Hypnotic Induction Profile. He published his first paper at age 23 as the last author with Martin Orne, Ernest Hilgard, Herbert Spiegel, David Spiegel, Helen Crawford, Fred Evans, and Emily Orne on “The Relation Between the Hypnotic Induction Profile and the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scales, Forms A and C” in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. He went on to author 48 papers and chapters and gave many lucid and dynamic presentations. He received at least 12 awards including the Milton Erickson Award for Scientific Writing on Hypnosis twice (1981, 2006). Over the years, he taught at the University of Illinois, Loyola, Columbia, and at The Adler School of Professional Psychology. As a clinical psychologist, he was on staff at Rush North Shore Medical Center and in private practice. He was Editor of the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis from 1994–2000. He was President of Division 30 (Psychological Hypnosis) of the American Psychological Association (APA) and of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (SCEH). He was a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH), SCEH, and APA.

Hypnosis Before Diagnostic or Therapeutic Medical Procedures: A Systematic Review

The aim of this systematic review was to estimate the efficiency of hypnosis prior to medical procedures. Different databases were analyzed to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing hypnosis to control interventions. All RCTs had to report pain or anxiety. Eighteen RCTs with a total of 968 patients were included; study size was from 20 to 200 patients (14 RCTs ≤ 60 patients). Fourteen RCTs included 830 adults and 4 RCTs included 138 children. Twelve of 18 RCTs had major quality limitations related to unclear allocation concealments, provider’s experience in hypnosis, patient’s adherence to hypnotic procedures, and intention-to-treat design. This systematic review observed major methodological limitations in RCTs on hypnosis prior to medical procedures.

Factors That Contribute to the Willingness to Try “Street Hypnosis”

This study takes a context-specific approach to examine people’s willingness to try hypnosis under various conditions and the factors that contribute to their willingness. It examined 378 participants, who completed a web-based hypnosis survey. The results showed that people’s willingness to try hypnosis varies by context. Specifically, people are more willing to try hypnosis when it is framed as “peak focus” rather than “hypnosis” and when they perceive the environment as being safer. Moreover, factors including participants’ demographics, hypnotists’ demographics (relative to the subjects’), participants’ control bias, and knowledge of hypnosis affect people’s degrees of willingness to try hypnosis, depending on the specific context. The results suggest further analysis of hypnosis occurring in public contexts and the effects it may have on attitudes and therapeutic outcomes.