HaS LogoI don't get to add new content to the site as often as I'd like, so I wanted to take the opportunity to flag attention to a new page aboutdefining hypnotizability. Everyone in the field has their own definition of hypnosis, and it can be both maddening and enlightening trying to disentangle what people mean by 'hypnosis'. 

Different definitions serve a variety of purposes. Clinicians often talk about using hypnosis to 'access the unconscious' or use suggestion to 'reprogram the mind', and while these descriptions can be really useful when trying to get a message across to patients, they don't provide the rigour that scientists want when they're trying to work out what hypnosis is and how it works.

A classic description of hypnosis is that it is a 'state of trance' where subjects are hyper-responsive to suggestion. And this really gets to the point of the debate. To be hyper-responsive to suggestion in hypnosis, surely you'd have to be 'normally responsive' outside hypnosis? That's the kind of logic that early hypnosis researchers like Clark Hull used in the 1930's: he measured suggestibility in and outside hypnosis, and argued that 'hypnotizability' is the difference between the two scores. Throughout the twentieth century a minority of researchers have used this (time consuming) methodology, but there has been argument about its validity. A forthcoming paper, which I was fortunate to be a party to, discusses this issue in more detail, and the new page looks at some of the advantages and disadvantages of the defining hypnosis in different ways. 

Visit the new page 'Defining hypnotizability'

 

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