Those who practice hypnosis agree that its power resides in the subject’s openness to suggestion.
Can anyone experience hypnosis? Yes, to some extent. Can hypnosis enhance recall of forgotten events? No. About 20% of the population are highly hypnotizable. They are those who are open to suggestion. These individuals have rich fantasy lives and easily become absorbed in the imaginary events of a novel or movie. Ideas can be planted in the mind and these can become pseudo-memories (false and implanted memories)
Facts and Falsehood Can hypnosis be therapeutic? Yes. Self-suggestion can heal too. Can hypnosis force people to act against their will? No. Experiments have not supported the fact that hypnosis cannot force people to act against their will. However, it does suggest that an authoritative person in a legitimate context can induce people—hypnotized or not—to perform some unlikely acts. X Post-hypnotic suggestions have helped alleviate headaches, asthma, and stress related skin Dis-rders. It has been especially helpful in the treat- ment of obesity. However, drug, alcohol, and smoking addictions do not respond well to hypnosis.
Facts and Falsehood Yes. Lamaze can do that too. Although hypnosis does NOT block sensory input, it may block our attention to that stimuli. Hypnosis can also help with pain relief by dissociating the pain sensation from conscious awareness, or merely by focusing attention on other things. It can reduce fear which in turn reduces hypersensitivity to pain. 10% of us can be so deeply hypnotized that major surgery could be performed without anesthesia—SCARY! 50% of us can gain some amount of pain relief from hypnosis. In surgical experiments, hypnotized patients have required less medication, recovered sooner, and left the hospital earlier than unhypnotized patients. One theory of hypnotic pain relief that supports this is dissociation . Dissociation is a split in consciousness, which allows some thoughts and behaviors to occur simultaneously with others. Another theory is selective attention .
Social Influence/Social Phenomenon— Theodore Barber proposes the role playing theory of hypnosis. According to this theory, hypnotized persons are simply playing the role of “good hypnotic subjects.” Barber believes that it is subjects’ role expectations that produce hypnotic effects, rather than a genuine split in consciousness. Barber argues that the hypnotist’s ideas become the subject’s thoughts. In turn, the subject’s thoughts drive the hypnotic experience and behavior.
Divided Consciousness Theory— Divided consciousness is a term coined by Ernest Hilgard to define a psychological state in which one's consciousness is split into distinct components, possibly during hypnosis . Partial consciousness involves selecting some features to attend to, while withdrawing attention from others. In the 1960's, he found the concepts of dissociation and partial dissociation useful to explain divided attention and the effects of hypnotic suggestion on attention.
Social influence is the change in behavior that one person (hypnotists) causes in another (volunteer), intentionally or unintentionally, as a result of the way the changed person (volunteer) perceives themselves in relationship to the influencer (hypnotist), or other people and society in general.
Three areas of social influence are conformity, compliance and obedience.
Conformity is changing how you behave to be more like others. This plays to belonging and esteem needs as we seek the approval and friendship of others. Conformity can run very deep, as we will even change our beliefs and values to be like those of our peers and admired superiors.
Compliance is where a person does something that they are asked to do by another. They may choose to comply or not to comply, although the thought of social punishment may lead them to compliance when they really do not want to comply.
Obedience is different from compliance in that it is obeying an order from someone that you accept as an authority figure. In compliance, you have some choice. In obedience, you believe that you do not have a choice. Many military officers and commercial managers are interested only in obedience.
Divided consciousness theory = the theory that during hypnosis, our consciousness—our awareness of ourselves and others—splits, so that one aspect of consciousness is not aware of the role other parts are playing.
This theory suggests it’s a matter of dissociation, i.e., a split in consciousness, where we block the neurological messages of the pain from awareness. In fact, hypnosis is generally no better at pain relief than relaxation and distraction techniques (Lamaze for instance). This dissociation theory would explain why there’s often a self-report/awareness versus behavioral discrepancy (for example, subjects who report (after hypnotic suggestion) to be unable to hear their own voice coming through on a time delay through a headset still find their ability to speak interrupted. Hypnosis doesn’t block sensory input.
Social Influence Theory: Some support for the role playing theory is indicated. First, some of the amazing effects of hypnosis has been duplicated by non hypnotized persons like the human plank (show body catalepsy clip). Second, there is evidence that hypnotized subjects are acting out a role. This is observed in hypnotized subjects who have been regressed to an early time. Bottom line: advocates of this theory contend that hypnotic phenomena are an extension of everyday social behavior and not something unique to hypnosis.
Hilgard’s divided consciousness very much like the phenomenon of “highway hypnosis.” That is, persons drive a car over a long distance do not remember responding to different traffic signs, etc... There appears to be a separation between consciousness and behavior. Also in Hilgard’s experiments hypnotized people can be aware of pain sensation without experiencing emotional distress. However, it is still controversial. In hypnosis, as in life, much of our behavior occurs on autopilot. We have two track minds. (refer to selective attention)
Researchers are leaning more toward a unified account of hypnosis (vs the individual views). Thus, hypnosis can be an extension both of normal principles of social influence and of everyday dissociations between our conscious awareness and our automatic behaviors.