What is hypnosis?
Author: Wagstaff, Graham F.
Source: Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, Volume 22, Number 2, June 1997 , pp. 155-163(9)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:Traditionally hypnosis has been viewed as an altered state of consciousness or trance, perhaps similar to sleep. However, recently a number of psychologists have questioned this view. Non-state theorists have argued that hypnosis can be adequately explained in terms of more ordinary psychological processes such as role enactment, imagination, relaxation, compliance, obedience, attention, distraction, and attitudes and expectations, without the necessity of invoking the concept of a special state. Research in hypnosis on topics such as physiological responses, strength and endurance, memory enhancement and amnesia, and clinical phenomena including analgesia suggests that, in general, most phenomena attributed to hypnosis can be accomplished by 'unhypnotised' individuals, so long as they are appropriately motivated and instructed. Consequently, although a number of issues remain unresolved, there is a strong case for arguing that much of the special status that has been awarded to hypnosis may have resulted from a failure to consider the power of social pressures and the normal capacities of ordinary human beings.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Department of Psychology, University of Liverpool, UK
Publication date: 1997-06-01