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Hypnosis

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Hypnosis

As children, you may have watched a television show where the villain hypnotizes the hero. Usually, this looks easy – all you need is a pocket watch and a few waves of the hand to make the hero fall deeply into a hypnotic state. There are so many questions and myths that involve hypnosis. Let's take a look at what hypnosis is and its place in psychology.

Hyonosis hipnotized hero StudySmarter

Hypnotized hero, flaticon.com
  • What is hypnosis?
  • What are myths about hypnosis?
  • When you are hypnotized, what state are you in?

Hypnosis Definition

Hypnosis is the act of changing a person's state of consciousness. It incorporates social interaction where one person is responsive to someone's suggestions. These suggestions alter perceptions about feelings, behaviors, or thoughts. Hypnosis is not a form of mind control as it is often depicted in television and movies. The person who is being hypnotized must be open to the power of suggestion to allow for hypnotization.

Myths about Hypnosis in Psychology

Of course, there are many misconceptions about hypnosis because of its presence in television and film. In the following text, you will find the answers to some of the most common questions involving this act.

Can hypnosis make people act against their will?

Researchers Martin Orne and Frederich Evans wanted to answer this question through a social experiment. In this experiment, the control group was not hypnotized (which was not shared with the laboratory assistants). Both the hypnotized and the unhypnotized groups were treated the same. So what was the result? Those who were not hypnotized carried out the same behaviors as their hypnotized counterparts.

Hypnosis scientist in a lab StudySmarterResearchers, flaticon.com

Does hypnosis have therapeutic benefits?

In this case, posthypnotic suggestions are the focus. Posthypnotic suggestions have been shown to help with asthma, headaches, and stress. Statistical analysis has shown a positive correlation for those who underwent therapy including hypnosis. These patients showed improvements up to 70 percent more than other therapy patients (Meyers, 2014). The Mayo Clinic has also suggested that there are benefits from using hypnosis in therapeutic settings to help alleviate anxiety and symptoms of anxiety (mayoclinic.org, 2020). Hypnotherapy is often used to help with unwanted behaviors or reactions to daily life stresses or even anxiety and depression.

Can hypnosis help with pain management?

The simple answer is - yes, it can. Hypnosis has been shown to have the ability to inhibit pain-related activity within the brain. Past surgical experiments have shown that patients who were hypnotized were able to recover faster, required less pain medication, and even left the hospital more quickly than those who were not hypnotized. Research has concluded that 10 percent of the population can be so deeply hypnotized that major surgeries can even be performed without anesthesia (Myers, 2014).

Hypnosis pain management StudySmarterHypnosis and pain management, flaticon.com

What is a Hypnotized State?

Is hypnosis an altered state of consciousness or somehow an extension of normal consciousness? Psychology researchers have two possible answers to what a hypnotized state of being is.

Social Phenomenon

The social influence theory of hypnosis suggests that perhaps people are caught up in playing the hypnotized person's role following the hypnotists' suggestions. This does not suggest that hypnosis is not real or full of falsehoods. If the patient or client is relaxed and trusts the hypnotherapist, they will likely follow suggestions. If the trust is somehow broken (maybe the hypnotist removes the power of suggestion), then the ability to achieve hypnosis is lost. According to the social influence theory, this shows that the phenomena of hypnosis are an extension of cognitive and normal social processes.

Hypnosis under hypnosis StudySmarter

Under hypnosis, flaticon.com

Divided Consciousness

It has been considered that in hypnosis there is the power of disassociation. This term refers to a split in consciousness as there is the allowance of thoughts and behaviors to occur simultaneously. We can compare this to everyday disassociation events. For example, you are sitting in class and listening to your teacher speak about something that doesn't quite have your attention. While you are listening, you are also doodling your and your crush's initials. This is disassociation.

Hypnosis disassociation doodle StudySmarterDisassociation doodle, flaticon.com

Selective attention is another form of divided consciousness and is suggested to be a helpful and hypnotic pain relief measure. Selective attention doesn't block pain receptors in the brain but may help remove the attention to the painful stimuli. PET scans show a reduction in processing painful stimuli but not in the sensory cortex. This could be why, in the heat of action, a football player doesn't realize they have an injury until after the game. Selective attention has proven that there is much more thinking that is being processed in our conscious than what we may be aware of.

Ernest Hilgard

Disassociation was proposed by Ernest Hilgard, a researcher who wanted to test his theories of divided consciousness. Hilgard would hypnotize his subjects and place them into an ice bath. The subjects showed no indication of pain from the ice bath. However, when the researcher asked the subjects to press a key if there was pain present, they indeed did. On the other hand, social influence theorists would argue that the subject was simply trying to play the role of a good hypnosis patient.

Hypnosis - Key takeaways

  • Hypnosis is the act of changing a person's state of consciousness and can alter perceptions about feelings, behaviors, or thoughts.
  • Posthypnotic suggestions have been shown to help with asthma, headaches, and stress.
  • Hypnotherapy is often used to help with unwanted behaviors or reactions to daily life stresses or even anxiety and depression.
  • The social influence theory of hypnosis suggests that perhaps people are caught up in playing the hypnotized person's role following the hypnotists' suggestions.
  • Disassociation is a split in consciousness as there is the allowance of thoughts and behaviors to occur simultaneously.
  • Selective attention is another form of divided consciousness and is suggested to be a helpful and hypnotic pain relief measure.

Frequently Asked Questions about Hypnosis

Hypnosis is the act of changing a person's state of consciousness. It incorporates social interaction where one person is responsive to someone's suggestions.

Psychology says that hypnosis alters perceptions about feelings, behaviors, or thoughts through a form of dissociation.

The neo-dissociation theory of hypnosis is a state of divided consciousness proposed by Ernest Hilgard.

The social influence theory of hypnosis suggests that perhaps people are caught up in playing the hypnotized person's role following the hypnotists' suggestions. This does not suggest that hypnosis is not real or full of falsehoods. If the patient or client is relaxed and trusts the hypnotherapist, they will likely follow suggestions. If the trust is somehow broken (maybe the hypnotist removes the power of suggestion), then the ability to achieve hypnosis is lost. According to the social influence theory, this shows that the phenomena of hypnosis are an extension of cognitive and normal social processes.

The different types of hypnosis are divided consciousness and selective attention.

Final Hypnosis Quiz

Question

_____ is the act of changing a person's state of consciousness.

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Answer

Hypnosis

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Question

____ can alter perceptions about feelings, behaviors, or thoughts.

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Answer

Hypnosis 

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Question

______ have been shown to help with asthma, headaches, and stress.

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Answer

Posthypnotic suggestions

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Question

_______ is often used to help with unwanted behaviors or reactions to daily life stresses or even anxiety and depression.

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Answer

Hypnotherapy

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Question

_____ has been shown to have the ability to inhibit pain-related activity within the brain.

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Answer

Hypnosis

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Question

______ theory of hypnosis suggests that perhaps people are caught up in playing the role of the hypnotized person and following the suggestions of the hypnotists.

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Answer

Social influence

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Question

_____ is a split in consciousness as there is the allowance of thoughts and behaviors to occur simultaneously.

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Answer

Disassociation

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Question

_____ is another form of divided consciousness and is suggested to be a helpful and hypnotic pain relief measure.

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Answer

Selective attention

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Question

Disassociation was proposed by ___.


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Answer

 Ernest Hilgard.

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Question

True or False: 

The phenomena of hypnosis are an extension of cognitive and normal social processes.

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Answer

True 

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True or False: 

Past surgical experiments have shown that those patients who were hypnotized were able to recover faster, required less pain medication, and even left the hospital more quickly than those who were not hypnotized.


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Answer

True

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Question

True or False: 

Statistical analysis has shown a negative correlation for those who had therapy that also included hypnosis.

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Answer

False

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True or False: Hypnosis is a form of mind control

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Answer

False

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Question

True or False: 

According to the social influence theory, the phenomena of hypnosis are an extension of cognitive and normal social processes.


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Answer

True

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Question

Posthypnotic amnesia is 

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Answer

forgetting selected events by suggestion.

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True or False: Many psychologists think

hypnosis involves highly focused awareness and intensified imagination.


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Answer

TRUE

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Question

According to the _____ theory, hypnotized individuals experience two or more streams of consciousness cut off from each other.

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Answer

dissociation

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Ernest Hilgard said that the ____  remains in the background monitoring behavior.


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Answer

“hidden observer"

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Question

One of the most important practical applications of hypnosis are in ____ which is used in surgery, childbirth, and dentistry.

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Answer

analgesia (pain control)

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