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.

What is the essence of hypnosis?

The author explores the nature of hypnosis, which he characterizes as a motivated mode of information processing that enables most humans to alter, to varying degrees, their experience of body, self, actions, and world. The essence of hypnosis is not to be found in heterohypnosis; instead, it lies in the spontaneous self-activation of that mode of information processing. The hypnosis field has substantially lost sight of spontaneous self-activation, because the word hypnosis is usually used to mean heterohypnosis. Self-activation of the hypnotic mode of information processing is the necessary sine qua non of hypnotic psychopathology. Moreover, self-activation of trance is the characteristic hypnotic behavior of a distinct subset of highly hypnotizable individuals.

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.

A Nonrandomized Comparison Study of Self-Hypnosis, Yoga and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy to Reduce Emotional Distress in Breast Cancer Patients

The authors asked breast cancer (BC) patients to participate in 1 of 3 mind-body interventions (cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), yoga, or self-hypnosis) to explore their feasibility, ease of compliance, and impact on the participants’ distress, quality of life (QoL), sleep, and mental adjustment. Ninety-nine patients completed an intervention (CBT: n = 10; yoga: n = 21; and self-hypnosis: n = 68). Results showed high feasibility and high compliance. After the interventions, there was no significant effect in the CBT group but significant positive effects on distress in the yoga and self-hypnosis groups, and also on QoL, sleep, and mental adjustment in the self-hypnosis group. In conclusion, mind-body interventions can decrease distress in BC patients, but RCTs are needed to confirm these findings.

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.

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

The authors present French norms for the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, Form A (HGSHS:A). They administered an adapted translation of Shor and Orne’s original text (1962) to a group of 126 paid volunteers. Participants also rated their own responses following our translation of Kihlstrom’s Scale of Involuntariness (2006). Item pass rates, score distributions, and reliability were calculated and compared with several other reference samples. Analyses show that the present French norms are congruous with the reference samples. Interestingly, the passing rate for some items drops significantly if “entirely voluntary” responses (as identified by Kihlstrom’s scale) are scored as “fail.” Copies of the translated scales and response booklet are available online.

Is Primary Process Cognition a Feature of Hypnosis?

The division of cognition into primary and secondary processes is an important part of contemporary psychoanalytic metapsychology. Whereas primary processes are most characteristic of unconscious thought and loose associations, secondary processes generally govern conscious thought and logical reasoning. It has been theorized that an induction into hypnosis is accompanied by a predomination of primary process cognition over secondary process cognition. The authors hypothesized that highly hypnotizable individuals would demonstrate more primary process cognition as measured by a recently developed cognitive-perceptual task. This hypothesis was not supported. In fact, low hypnotizable participants demonstrated higher levels of primary process cognition. Exploratory analyses suggested a more specific effect: felt connectedness to the hypnotist seemed to promote secondary process cognition among low hypnotizable participants.

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.

Forward Affect Bridge

This paper presents a modification of the affect bridge technique. The Forward Affect Bridge enables practitioners to create and maintain hope when it is missing. Hope is relevant for diminishing avoidance and being involved with necessary activities. The main idea is to build up a positive atmosphere in the here and now (relying on rapport), amplify it, and project it forward. By using clinical vignettes, the authors illustrate these techniques.