Hypnosis


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Self-hypnosis is claimed to help with stage fright, relaxation, and physical well-being. Stage hypnosis is a form of entertainment, traditionally employed in a club or theatre before an audience. Due to stage hypnotists' showmanship, many people believe that hypnosis is a form of mind control. Stage hypnotists typically attempt to hypnotise the entire audience and then select individuals who are "under" to come up on stage and perform embarrassing acts, while the audience watches.

However, the effects of stage hypnosis are probably due to a combination of psychological factors, participant selection, suggestibility, physical manipulation, stagecraft, and trickery. The idea of music as hypnosis developed from the work of Franz Mesmer. Instruments such as pianos, violins, harps and, especially, the glass harmonica often featured in Mesmer's treatments; and were considered to contribute to Mesmer's success. In their experiments with sound hypnosis, Jean-Martin Charcot used gongs and tuning forks, and Ivan Pavlov used bells.

The intention behind their experiments was to prove that physiological response to sound could be automatic, bypassing the conscious mind.


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In the s and s, a moral panic took place in the US fearing Satanic ritual abuse. As part of this, certain books such as The Devil's Disciples stated that some bands, particularly in the musical genre of heavy metal, brainwashed American teenagers with subliminal messages to lure them into the worship of the devil, sexual immorality, murder, and especially suicide. The counteraction on heavy metal in terms of satanic brainwashing is an evidence that linked to the automatic response theories of musical hypnotism. Various people have been suspected of or convicted for hypnosis-related crimes, including robbery and sexual abuse.

In , Palle Hardrup shot and killed two people during a botched robbery in Copenhagen. Both were sentenced to jail time. In , a Russian "evil hypnotist" was suspected of tricking customers in banks around Stavropol into giving away thousands of pounds worth of money.

According to the local police, he would approach them and make them withdraw all of the money from their bank accounts, which they would then freely give to the man. The victim did nothing to stop the robber from looting his pockets and taking his cash, only calling out the thief when he was already getting away. In , the thenyear-old amateur hypnotist Timothy Porter attempted to sexually abuse his female weight-loss client. She reported awaking from a trance and finding him behind her with his pants down, telling her to touch herself.

History and early research

He was subsequently called to court and included on the sex offender list. Besides the primary charge by a year-old woman who he sexually abused in a hotel under the guise of a free therapy session, he also admitted to having sexually assaulted a year-old girl. The central theoretical disagreement regarding hypnosis is known as the "state versus nonstate" debate.

When Braid introduced the concept of hypnotism, he equivocated over the nature of the "state", sometimes describing it as a specific sleep-like neurological state comparable to animal hibernation or yogic meditation, while at other times he emphasised that hypnotism encompasses a number of different stages or states that are an extension of ordinary psychological and physiological processes. Overall, Braid appears to have moved from a more "special state" understanding of hypnotism toward a more complex "nonstate" orientation.

State theorists interpret the effects of hypnotism as due primarily to a specific, abnormal, and uniform psychological or physiological state of some description, often referred to as "hypnotic trance" or an "altered state of consciousness". Nonstate theorists rejected the idea of hypnotic trance and interpret the effects of hypnotism as due to a combination of multiple task-specific factors derived from normal cognitive, behavioural, and social psychology, such as social role-perception and favorable motivation Sarbin , active imagination and positive cognitive set Barber , response expectancy Kirsch , and the active use of task-specific subjective strategies Spanos.

The personality psychologist Robert White is often cited as providing one of the first nonstate definitions of hypnosis in a article:.

The hypnotic state

Hypnotic behaviour is meaningful, goal-directed striving, its most general goal being to behave like a hypnotised person as this is continuously defined by the operator and understood by the client. Put simply, it is often claimed that, whereas the older "special state" interpretation emphasises the difference between hypnosis and ordinary psychological processes, the "nonstate" interpretation emphasises their similarity.

Comparisons between hypnotised and non-hypnotised subjects suggest that, if a "hypnotic trance" does exist, it only accounts for a small proportion of the effects attributed to hypnotic suggestion, most of which can be replicated without hypnotic induction. Braid can be taken to imply, in later writings, that hypnosis is largely a state of heightened suggestibility induced by expectation and focused attention. In particular, Hippolyte Bernheim became known as the leading proponent of the "suggestion theory" of hypnosis, at one point going so far as to declare that there is no hypnotic state, only heightened suggestibility.

There is a general consensus that heightened suggestibility is an essential characteristic of hypnosis.

Is Hypnosis Real? Here's What Science Says

In , Clark L. Hull wrote:. If a subject after submitting to the hypnotic procedure shows no genuine increase in susceptibility to any suggestions whatever, there seems no point in calling him hypnotised, regardless of how fully and readily he may respond to suggestions of lid-closure and other superficial sleeping behaviour.

Ivan Pavlov stated that hypnotic suggestion provided the best example of a conditioned reflex response in human beings; i.

Look into my eyes: how hypnosis works is a partnership | Aeon Essays

Speech, on account of the whole preceding life of the adult, is connected up with all the internal and external stimuli which can reach the cortex, signaling all of them and replacing all of them, and therefore it can call forth all those reactions of the organism which are normally determined by the actual stimuli themselves. We can, therefore, regard "suggestion" as the most simple form of a typical reflex in man.

He also believed that hypnosis was a "partial sleep", meaning that a generalised inhibition of cortical functioning could be encouraged to spread throughout regions of the brain. He observed that the various degrees of hypnosis did not significantly differ physiologically from the waking state and hypnosis depended on insignificant changes of environmental stimuli. Pavlov also suggested that lower-brain-stem mechanisms were involved in hypnotic conditioning.

Pavlov's ideas combined with those of his rival Vladimir Bekhterev and became the basis of hypnotic psychotherapy in the Soviet Union, as documented in the writings of his follower K. Soviet theories of hypnotism subsequently influenced the writings of Western behaviourally oriented hypnotherapists such as Andrew Salter. Changes in brain activity have been found in some studies of highly responsive hypnotic subjects. These changes vary depending upon the type of suggestions being given. They may indicate that suggestions genuinely produce changes in perception or experience that are not simply a result of imagination.

However, in normal circumstances without hypnosis, the brain regions associated with motion detection are activated both when motion is seen and when motion is imagined, without any changes in the subjects' perception or experience. It is, however, premature to claim that hypnosis and meditation are mediated by similar brain systems and neural mechanisms.

Another study has demonstrated that a colour hallucination suggestion given to subjects in hypnosis activated colour-processing regions of the occipital cortex. Hypnosis is not a unitary state and therefore should show different patterns of EEG activity depending upon the task being experienced. Studies have shown an association of hypnosis with stronger theta-frequency activity as well as with changes to the gamma -frequency activity.

The induction phase of hypnosis may also affect the activity in brain regions that control intention and process conflict.

https://ciasmalerscap.ga Anna Gosline claims:. Gruzelier and his colleagues studied brain activity using an fMRI while subjects completed a standard cognitive exercise, called the Stroop task. The team screened subjects before the study and chose 12 that were highly susceptible to hypnosis and 12 with low susceptibility.


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  • They all completed the task in the fMRI under normal conditions and then again under hypnosis. Throughout the study, both groups were consistent in their task results, achieving similar scores regardless of their mental state. During their first task session, before hypnosis, there were no significant differences in brain activity between the groups. But under hypnosis, Gruzelier found that the highly susceptible subjects showed significantly more brain activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus than the weakly susceptible subjects.

    This area of the brain has been shown to respond to errors and evaluate emotional outcomes. The highly susceptible group also showed much greater brain activity on the left side of the prefrontal cortex than the weakly susceptible group. This is an area involved with higher level cognitive processing and behaviour.

    Pierre Janet originally developed the idea of dissociation of consciousness from his work with hysterical patients. He believed that hypnosis was an example of dissociation, whereby areas of an individual's behavioural control separate from ordinary awareness. Hypnosis would remove some control from the conscious mind, and the individual would respond with autonomic, reflexive behaviour.

    Weitzenhoffer describes hypnosis via this theory as "dissociation of awareness from the majority of sensory and even strictly neural events taking place. Ernest Hilgard , who developed the "neodissociation" theory of hypnotism, hypothesized that hypnosis causes the subjects to divide their consciousness voluntarily.

    One part responds to the hypnotist while the other retains awareness of reality. Hilgard made subjects take an ice water bath. None mentioned the water being cold or feeling pain.

    Topical Indexes

    This showed that, even though the subjects were listening to the suggestive hypnotist, they still sensed the water's temperature. The main theorist who pioneered the influential role-taking theory of hypnotism was Theodore Sarbin. Sarbin argued that hypnotic responses were motivated attempts to fulfill the socially constructed roles of hypnotic subjects. This has led to the misconception that hypnotic subjects are simply "faking".

    However, Sarbin emphasised the difference between faking, in which there is little subjective identification with the role in question, and role-taking, in which the subject not only acts externally in accord with the role but also subjectively identifies with it to some degree, acting, thinking, and feeling "as if" they are hypnotised.

    Sarbin drew analogies between role-taking in hypnosis and role-taking in other areas such as method acting , mental illness, and shamanic possession, etc.

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