Redefining hypnosis: theory, methods and integration

Gruzelier, John. 2006. Redefining hypnosis: theory, methods and integration. Contemporary Hypnosis, 17(2), pp. 51-70. ISSN 0960-5290 [Article]

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An integration between neurobiological and sociocognitive perspectives is advocated to advance and overhaul the concept of hypnosis and its humanistic applications. The thesis is presented that hypnosis is an altered state of brain functional organization involving interrelations between brain regions initiated by the intervention of the hypnotist – that is, an atypical alteration of brain systems through an interpersonal and cultural context. Experimental evidence shows that the hypnotic process produces a brain state that is different from everyday neurophysiology, as shown by evidence of differential effects of attention and relaxation, and by evidence of cognitive and neurophysiological dissociation, which are central features of hypnosis. The hypnotic induction has a neurophysiological logic involving a temporal process that becomes conditioned to facilitate future induction and self-hypnosis. Our integrative perspective of brain systems in a social context includes a neuropsychological translation of the hypnotic induction and draws out the implications of orbital-frontal suppression for subjects being oblivious to embarrassment and being able to endure stage hypnosis. Wasteful pursuits in the field of hypnosis include the search for a single marker, premature closure of neurophysiological investigation, attributions and inferences such as ‘suggestion’ and goal-directed striving without validation and without consideration of process and mechanism, and the use of dichotomies such as ‘waking’ versus ‘sleeping’. Recommendations include considerations of multidimensionality regarding trance and levels of susceptibility; the modifiability of susceptibility; formal assessment of social conceptions about hypnosis; concurrent validation of susceptibility during experimental procedures; consideration of both objective and subjective measures of susceptibility together with cross-checking for inconsistencies; the feasibility of control conditions; assessment of processes underpinning suggestibility; distinguishing the social impact of experimental, clinical and stage hypnosis; and assessment of after-effects.

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Date Deposited:

16 Mar 2011 08:15

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 15:27

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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