Stage Hypnosis

The stage hypnotist differs very much in his presentation of his skills to that of a clinical hypnotherapist. Although both induce a trance state, one is strictly for entertainment and the other for therapy. Stage Hypnosis goes through its ups and downs in popularity, but one thing will always be said ---It is a fascinating presentation if done correctly. It extenuates the possibility of the human mind in a way that both mystifies and confuses. The simplicity of the process becomes a dichotomy. Unbelievable to those viewing and self reflective to those participating.

Trance state or hypnosis created by the stage hypnotist triggers a relaxation response that is very apparent to the spectator. The hypnosis creates flaccidity of the muscles, originating at the cortex level and translating to a ”Gumby “ like existence

If the stage hypnotist picks an arm and lets it go the arm will fall disconnected by the individuals body. In many cases the stage hypnotist will use this as a method of determining how successful his hypnotic induction has worked.

At some disassociated level the audience becomes aware of those who are in deep hypnosis and those who are traveling between various brain wave patterns. It becomes very apparent who the stage hypnotist is going to use for his show. If you see enough stage hypnosis shows you will recognize “ hypnotizable subjects” and the very specific anomalies they present.

Everybody can be hypnotized IF THEY ALLOW themselves----All Hypnosis is self hypnosis----The stage hypnotist is nothing more than a facilitator, the recipient either excepts or rejects the process.

Here in lies the skill of the hypnotist and his ability to sell something that in many ways is not tangible.

As a spectator become savvy to the trance like characteristics that a hypnotized subject projects. As a participant allow the hypnotist to guide you through this remarkable journey and remember the only person that can allow this hypnotic process is you.

For further information on stage hypnosis go to or call 1(760)635-7785 Comedy hypnotist

Really check out your entertainer before you hire. Be aware of those hypnotists that cannot give you repeat references from a venue or client. Compare their promotional materials with other hypnotists and if at all possible try and get a video, DVD that shows a full show. Viewing highlights is just what you will get.---For some hypnotists the show is about them and not the audience.

When it comes to comedy hypnotists you get the good and the bad----Stay away from the self proclaimed ‘fastest’ and voted the ‘best’ ---. For every hypnotist that proclaims these things there are ten other hypnotists that are better and faster.

Be aware of those who pad their educational backgrounds. The MSc or PhD in Clinical Hypnosis. There really is no such thing that is recognized by any legitimate educational institution. There is just education --. The bottom line is that anybody can practice clinical hypnosis; any body can give out a PhD in clinical hypnosis. Anybody can get up on stage and say they are a comedy hypnotist. There is no governing body, or official licensing--- so understanding this take your time in researching your hypnotist.

Typically comedy hypnotists specialize in a field of entertainment. It may be Corporate, Universities and Colleges, High Schools, the fair industry, comedy clubs or cruise ships and resorts/casinos.

I personally vary my material for the audience. Corporate tends to be squeaky clean and politically correct, the same for high school and fair performances. Of course everything really is based on client needs. I always discuss a show format prior to an event and will suggest a routine, but I am always open to suggestions.

Comedy Clubs expect something a little different and so that is what I give them.

A quick synopsis—Insure that you get a hypnotist that has repeat references, and make sure you have a number that you can call (make sure it is not their mother!) to talk to the client that saw the hypnotist. Try and get a full video of a performance and beware of padded credentials. If the hypnotist sounds pushy or self- proclaimed look for the red lights flashing.

Physiological Effects of Hypnosis Continued

The limited supply of blood in the body is normally differentially routed to the various viscera and skeletal muscles as needed by the action of the AND on the sphincter muscles of the arterioles. The vascularization of the skin is under the exclusive control of the sympathetic division of the ANS. To the extent that both divisions of the ANS are represented in the other regions of the body, they function as antagonists. The effect of the sympathetic system is to put blood into skeletal muscle, while the action of the parasympathetic system is to route it into the viscera.

Although there is conflict in the literature over the issue of whether neutral hypnosis produces any change in the peripheral distribution of blood, the evidence seems consistent that hypnotic suggestions can influence the distribution of blood to the skin and other structures. Many of the effects reported on skin temperature, galvanic skin response (GSR), mammary gland development, and the production and alleviation of skin eruptions are probably explainable in terms of alteration of blood flow to these areas (Barber, 1978c). Timney and Barber (1969) replicated earlier findings that subjects in neutral hypnosis developed a significant increase in oral temperature, while Jackson and Hastings (1981) found no significant difference in oral temperature between hypnotic and simulating subjects. In a second study, they found a marginally greater decrease in oral temperature in high-susceptibility female subjects. By imagining that their hands are in cold or hot water, subjects are able to produce temperature differences of up to 20°F between their two hands. Maslach, Marshall, and Zimbardo (1972) have found that while hypnotized subjects were able to change the skin temperature in their two hands in the opposite direction simultaneously, waking controls were unable to do so. Similar effects have been produced using biofeedback. Piedmont (1981) and Crosson (1980) confirmed that skin temperature is alterable by suggestion under hypnosis, and Raynaud and her colleagues (1984) found that neutral hypnosis did not affect rectal or skin temperature, but the suggestion of the sensation of heat decreased rectal temperature and raised mean skin temperature.

McDowell (1953) reported vasodilation in a subject's leg following suggestions of the leg being immersed in warm water, and Nallapa (1952) reported increasing circulation in a case of Buerger's disease (thromboangiitis obliterans) by hypnotic suggestion. Reiter (1956) reported that suggestions of increasing blood flow to the thyroid gland increased the basal metabolism rate (BMR) to 110, resulting in body weight being reduced to normal in an obese patient.

Hypnosis itself does not affect BMR, but emotions produced by hypnotic suggestions may increase or decrease it (Wallis, 1951; Whitehorn et al., 1932). Posthypnotic suggestions have induced body temperature elevation, but Kline (1957, 1958c) believes that direct suggestions are ineffective and that emotive or hallucinatory suggestions are needed. Contrary to Pavlov's theory that hypnosis involved vasoconstriction in the cerebrum, Nygard found no difference in cerebral circulation in waking or hypnotized subjects.

The GSR refers to the electrical resistance of the surface of the skin. Skin resistance is lowered by the activity of the sweat glands, which secrete an electrolyte onto the surface of the skin. Crasilneck and Hall (1959) report conflicting studies concerning the effects of neutral hypnosis and suggestions of anesthesia on GSR. Using six subjects, Barber and Coules (1959) found no change in skin resistance during induction and a gradual increase of resistance throughout the remainder of the experiment, which was punctuated by responses to individual suggestions. Since sweating is a response to stress produced by the sympathetic division of the ANS, it is likely that what happens is a function of an individual subject's reactions to suggestions. If the subject views the induction procedure as a relaxing event, he will probably respond with lowered sweat gland activity and a higher skin resistance. If he is apprehensive, either about the procedure in general or about some specific suggestion, he is likely to sweat more and thus have a lowered skin resistance. Often the subject's subjective feeling that he is about to go into an unusual state of consciousness may be enough to frighten him into producing a sudden change in GSR level.

A large variety of skin conditions appear to be affected by hypnotic suggestions. Congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma, a scalelike eruption, has been improved by hypnotic suggestion, and in some cases, results have been reported that were limited to the specific areas of the body to which suggestions were directed (Mason, 1952; Schneck, 1954). Large nevi and warts have been reported successfully treated by hypnotic suggestion (Asher, 1956; Fernandez, 1955; McDowell, 1949). Asher reported 15 out of 25 susceptible patients cured of warts. Barber (1978b) reported a rapid cure in 3 out of 11 patients, but an attempt to limit a cure to warts on only one hand by suggesting an alteration of the blood supply to the warts and "feeling them tingle and dry up" was unsuccessful. Both hands cleared up.

In 1941, Pattie reviewed the literature on blister formation. In a typical experiment of the time, blister development was attempted by telling a subject that he was being touched with a hot iron. Results were mainly negative, and, since many of the cases reported were poorly documented or controlled, there is conflict in the reports. The issue of whether a blister can be produced is still unresolved, but the weight of the evidence is negative. On occasion, erythema or a welt may be produced in a susceptible subject, and these may have been reported as blisters in some studies.

Johnson and Barber (1976) were unable to produce a blister in 40 subjects, although two developed a localized inflammation. One of these reactions was attributed to self-injury, a problem that Pattie noted in this type of research. Evidently some good subjects are so anxious to produce the effect the hypnotist seeks, they will actually injure themselves to produce it. The researcher must be able to observe subjects constantly or make the skin area in question inaccessible to them from the time of the suggestion until the time of observation of effects. Spanos, McNeil, and Stam (1982) age regressed 17 previously burned subjects to the time of their injuries and suggested that a blister was forming. None showed evidence of blister formation or even skin discoloration, but one did develop an elevated skin temperature at the site of the injury compared to the contralateral site. Barber reports that cold sores can be produced in susceptible subjects by suggestion, and probably even without hypnosis. Ikemi and Nakagawa (1962), using high school students in Japan who were sensitive to a poisonous plant (similar to poison ivy), had both hypnotized and control subjects touch this plant. Both groups were told that it was not the plant they were allergic to. The vast majority of both groups developed no dermatitis. The study was then reversed; both hypnotized and control subjects were instructed to touch a nonpoisonous plant they were told was poisonous. All subjects in both groups developed a dermatitis from slight to marked. Thus, psychological factors have been demonstrated to affect the course of allergic reactions both with and without hypnosis.

A number of studies suggest that breast size may be increased by hypnotic suggestion. Williams (1974), employing controls for weight gain, phase of the menstrual cycle, and measurement position, reported an average increase of 2 inches in bust size in 13 subjects after 12 weekly treatments involving suggestions of warmth, blood flow, tingling, and so on. Home practice sessions were also employed. Willard (1977) replicated this experiment and reported an average gain of 1.5 inches in nine sessions. Staib and Logan (1977) found these gains were retained after 7 months. Erickson (1977b) reported successful hypnotic breast development in a clinical setting.

Respiration rate can be changed by direct or indirect emotion-producing suggestions (Crasilneck and Hall, 1959). Hypnosis per se probably lowers the respiration rate. Reiter (1956) reports that suggestions of pain, anxiety, and grief increase both the depth and frequency of respiration.

Arterial oxygen level is increased by the induction of a pleasant emotion under hypnosis and decreased by the induction of an unpleasant one (Lovett, 1953a, 1953b). Hypnosis per se decreased the waking levels of oxygen saturation. The blood glucose level is closely related to the level of arousal and can be varied by hypnotic suggestion (Barber, 1961b). Olness and Conroy (1985) found that nine out of eleven children between the ages of seven and seventeen were able to increase tissue oxygen in response to taped suggestions. Eight children were experienced in self-hypnosis; three were not. Of the children successful in this task, only one had no previous self-hypnosis training; two children without this training were unable to increase their tissue oxygen.

Hypnosis has often been reported as a treatment for an asthmatic attack (Franklin, 1957; Solovey and Milechnin, 1957; Van Pelt, 1953). Thome and Fisher (1978) found that high- and medium-susceptibility subjects who were given hypnotic suggestions of experiencing an asthmatic attack were convinced that they had experienced one, though physiological measures failed to "'veal a typical asthmatic pattern. Low-susceptibility subjects were unconvinced of the effect.

In a book published in 1953, the same year that Aserinsky and Kleitman published their paper on rapid eye movements (REMs) in sleeping infants that was to revolutionize concepts concerning the stages of sleep and dream research, Weitzenhoffer concluded that hypnosis resembled a stage of light sleep more than either deep sleep or the waking state. In an early article, Barber (1956a) came to the same conclusion. More recent evidence indicates that EEG records obtained during hypnosis are about the same as are obtained in the waking state or in stage 1 sleep (the lightest stage). The EEG record in stage 1 sleep is identical to a waking EEG record except for the appearance of periodic REMs, which is why this stage is sometimes referred to as paradoxical sleep.

No change in a preexisting alpha level is noted on induction (Dynes, 1947). On the other hand, alpha waves were inhibited in nine out of eleven subjects who were given suggestions for visual hallucinations while under deep hypnosis with their eyes closed. Such disruption in an alpha pattern would normally be produced by a subject either thinking or opening his eyes and permitting a visual pattern to stimulate his occipital cortex.

In addition to being capable of producing deep relaxation of the voluntary muscles, hypnosis may be capable of increasing the capability of muscle. Weitzenhoffer (1951) concluded that hypnotic transcendence of voluntary muscular capability is a valid phenomenon. Mead and Roush (1949) noted a significant increase in strength during hypnosis when measured by an arm dynamometer but not when measured with a hand dynamometer. Watkins (1949) suggests that this enhanced muscular ability may be due to the anesthetic effect of hypnosis on pain and fatigue.

Barber and Calverley (1964e), using 60 female volunteers, found that strength of grip was not increased by hypnotic suggestion or by task-motivational instructions. On the other hand, hypnosis per se depressed weight-holding endurance, but task-motivational instructions, with or without a preceding hypnotic induction, increased endurance. In a review of the literature on the subject in 1966, Barber concluded that hypnosis by itself does not increase either strength or endurance, but motivational instructions increase both—with or without hypnosis. Albert and Williams (1975) examined the effects of posthypnotic suggestions on physical endurance. Endurance was found to be lowered with posthypnotic suggestions of fatigue but not increased with facilitating instructions. Nonhypnotized control subjects were not affected by either suggestion. The Borge ratings of perceived exertion indicated that the subjects subjectively perceived the effects suggested subjects, and a control group. When tested posthypnotically, high-susceptibility subjects given motivating suggestions under hypnosis and subjects given waking motivating suggestions performed equally well and better than control subjects. Low-susceptibility subjects given motivational suggestions under hypnosis and subjects exposed to neutral hypnosis did not improve their performance.

Performance on a pursuit rotor task was significantly improved equally by posthypnotic or waking suggestions (Pearson, 1982). Abramson and Heron (1950) found a significant reduction in labor time with hypnotic analgesia during childbirth, suggesting that hypnosis may produce a more effective contraction of the uterine muscles, a more effective cervical dilation, or both.

Neutral hypnosis depresses gastric secretion, while emotion-producing suggestions under hypnosis may alter it in either direction (Crasilneck and Hall, 1959). Suggestions of eating a delicious meal increased gastric acidity and secretion in 34 of 36 subjects. Barber (1965d) makes the point that in most of the studies investigating the physiological effects of hypnosis or hypnotic suggestions, no evaluation was made of the relative effects of the specific suggestions, the positive motivation on the part of the subjects, general suggestions of relaxation, or defining the situation as hypnosis. In cases where these parameters are investigated, he asserts, it is usually found that direct, indirect, or even waking suggestions are effective.

Physiological Effects of Hypnosis

A number of common effects of hypnotic induction were described under the rubric of signs of hypnosis. If conventional methods of Induction, utilizing suggestions of relaxation and sleep are used, these effects commonly include slight to profound muscular relaxation, with consequent alterations in facial expression and posture, eye closure, and lack of spon­taneous movement or speech. Other usual concomitants of the hypnotic state Include a literalness and specificity in the understanding of suggestions (mak ing it imperative that the operator carefully phrase suggestions) and in some cases the development of rapport, a condition in which the subject ignores all suggestions except those made by the operator. It is tempting to describe reactions that result from the induction of the hypnotic state per se, or so-called neutral hypnosis, as general responses to distinguish them from those made only in response to specific instructions. This, however, would be mis leading; these reactions, like any other obtained under hypnosis, are most likely made in response to suggestions. In the case of these general responses, the suggestions are being made explicitly or implicitly in the sug gestions used for trance induction. If an individual subject interprets the hypnotist's exhortation to "respond only to the sound of my voice" as meaning the institution of a state of rapport, he will develop one; if not, he will not.

Thus, although the present author agrees with Edmonston (1977b) that re laxation is a common concomitant of hypnosis, he disagrees with his thesis that it is the equivalent of neutral hypnosis. It results simply because of the usual way in which hypnosis is induced—by suggestions of drowsiness and relaxation—and is not essential to hypnosis, as demonstrated by the work of Gibbons (1974, 1976, 1979). The equating of relaxation and neutral hyp nosis is another common misconception and was the reason that Swartz (l982), in a review of the first edition of this book, took exception to the author's statement that, by itself, hypnosis is neither helpful nor harmful, since he (as the author), believes relaxation is valuable in tension-related conditions.

In this section we consider what physiological reactions can bemodified by suggestions, direct or indirect. Responses involving the autonomic nervous system (ANS) are of special interest since such responses are normally not under voluntary control and hence cannot be produced directly. However they can probably be altered by the mediating action of thoughts, ideation, or goal-directed fantasies.

Crasilneck and Hall (1959), Gorton (1949a, 1949b), and Barber (1961) 1965) have reviewed the literature on the physiological effects of hypnosis This literature is often in conflict because of the absence of adequate controls, especially in the earlier studies. Thus several studies have reported a decrease in heart rate in neutral hypnosis, while others have reported a rise. Probably both effects occur. Heart deceleration may result from the relaxation instruc-tions used to induce hypnosis and heart acceleration from the idiosyncratic reactions of subjects to the subjective feelings aroused by trance-induction procedures. If the subject is frightened by the prospect of hypnosis, may increase. Gorton (1949a, 1949b) reports that except for a slight low. due to relaxation, cardiac activity is about the same for subjects under hypnosis as it is when they are awake. Cardiac rate is much lower during sleep than in either hypnosis or waking.

Bauer and McCanne (1980b) found no significant differences in decrease in heart rate, alpha activity, skin conductivity, or respiratory rate between six hypnotized female subjects and six female simulators.

Barber (1961b, 1965d) reports that hypnotized and waking subjects can increase or decrease their heart rate in response to specific suggestions to do so, but hypnosis does not enhance this effect. It is not possible to determine whether direct suggestions to vary the heart rate are effective without the help of mediating ideation because it is not possible to control what the subject is thinking. Since the autonomic nervous system (ANS) is not under direct voluntary control, if heart rate is to be controlled by a subject, it probably must be done indirectly by an emotional response to ideation produced gestions. Barber also points out that alterations in respiration rate, which can be made voluntarily, can affect heart rate. However, it is difficult to distinguish the direct effects of suggestions, if any, from the emotional concomitants of mediating ideation, goal-directed fantasies, or simply relaxation.

Barber cites a study by Van Pelt in which the latter appeals to have pro-duced cardiac acceleration in a calm subject while controlling for the level of adrenaline in the blood. Raginsky (1959) produced a cardiac block for a brief period by hypnotic suggestion. He also produced extra systoles in labile jects (Raginsky, 1953). Linton and colleagues (1977) found no evidence concordance of heart rate between subject and hypnotist based on empathy as some have suggested, but found some concordance during induction. Morgan and coworkers (1976) reported that suggestions of heavy work produced no alteration in cardiac rate in either hypnotized or waking subjects, but they were effective in producing an increase in ventilation. Barber found that in neutral hypnosis, muscle tension, measured by electromyograph (EMG), was significantly lower, but pulse rate was unchanged. Hilgard and colleagues (1974) reported a significant difference in heart rate following sug-gestions of analgesia that was unrelated to the amount of subjective pain reduction but no significant rise in heart rate with hypnotically hallucinated Electrocardiogram changes have been reported following emotion-producing suggestions (Bennett and Scott, 1949; Berman, Simonson, and Heron, 1954) Blood pressure is affected by both cardiac rate and the peripheral resis-tance in the arterioles produced by the activity of sphincter muscles under control of the ANS. As in the case of heart rate, neutral hypnosis usually neither raises nor lowers blood pressure, but the relaxation effect may reduce the systolic pressure slightly, and any apprehensions that the subject has may raise it. On the other hand, suggestions can produce marked changes of up to 40 millimeters of mercury systolic pressure and 20 millimeters of mercury effect on the systolic pressure, and suggestions of temperature change primarily affect the diastolic pressure. Suggestions of warmth lower the diastolic pressure, and suggestions of cold raise it. Holroyd, Nuechterlein, and Shapiro 982) found that hypnosis reduced systolic blood pressure when bio-feedback did not, but biofeedback was superior to hypnosis in reducing forehead muscle tension. These effects were independent of subjects' hypnotic susceptibility.

A large number of clinical reports are cited by Crasilneck and Hall (1959) to the effect that bleeding can be increased or decreased by hypnotic sug-gestion, although they report a failure to demonstrate such a relationship experimentally. Some clinical sources describe reduction in bleeding as a concomitant of hypnoanesthesia even in the absence of specific suggestions to this effect. Arons believes that only capillary bleeding can be controlled hypnotically because veins have no sphincter muscles. A research difficulty results from the fact that venous, and certainly arterial, bleeding requires immeditate control, so anything less than immediate and total control over them produced by hypnosis is not likely to be experimentally measurable.

Hypnosis and Legislative Problems

The arguments that Stage Hypnosis is dangerous are for the most part based on atypical and anecdotal reports, such as the case Kline cited of a woman who sustained a serious burn to her hand because of the incomplete removal of suggested of anesthesia made by a Stage Hypnotist. The bulk of the evidence appears to indicate that Stage hypnosis, even in incompetent hands, is no more dangerous than experimental hypnosis because of the episodic character of the session and the fact that neither the subject nor the hypnotist expects to produce permanent changes in the subject's behavior.

The argument that Stage hypnosis can be humiliating to the subject or in bad taste is a more interesting one but would be difficult to resolve. The problem is in deciding whose standards of good taste to adopt. The argument that hypnosis is a medical device is neither true nor relevant. First, if hypnosis were to be looked upon as a device, it would clearly be a psychological and not a medical one. Second, it is neither a device nor the exclusive property of any professional group but is, in fact, a naturally occurring phenomenon. If it were a medical device, it would make no sense to restrict its nonmedical uses to physicians anymore than it would to prevent an auto mechanic from listening to a noisy engine with a stethoscope to localize the noise. Stage hypnosis is neither a medical nor a psychological use of hypnosis.

There are three major reasons why legislation restricting the practice of stage hypnosis should not be enacted. First, there is no need for such legislation to protect subjects. If a stage hypnotist did something either to harm or embarrass a subject, he or she would presently be fully liable in tort for these actions. Merely consenting to be a subject in such a performance in no way waives the participants rights against the hypnotist for any injury sustained, and if a demonstration subject (or an experimental subject for that matter) were induced to sign a release of all claims prior to the procedure, such a document would be without legal effect in most jurisdictions.

A more important reason for opposing this type of legislation is that hypnosis involves nothing more than a hypnotist talking to a subject. Legislation restricting the freedom of one person to talk to another seems to be a dangerous violation of the freedom of speech assurances of the Constitution. If the government can restrict the freedom of one citizen to talk to another, to protect the latter from some undefined danger of hypnosis, it is a simple step to take similar action to protect him from the dangers intrinsic in unpopular political ideas. For this reason alone, legislation to limit stage hypnosis should be opposed, even if it could be shown to have substantial capacity to harm a subject.

A third reason for reluctance to support antistage hypnosis legislation is of particular concern to psychologists. Kline (1976) believes that hypnosis can be defined clearly enough to enable legislation concerning ------Psychologists need to be particularly cautious in supporting legislation restricting the practice of hypnosis. Often medical lobbyists have used such legislation as a means of downgrading psychologists. For example, although some states, such as California, have statutes defining the practice of psychology and specifically listing hypnosis as included within it, other states, such as Florida, have a hypnosis law that reduces a psychologist to the level of a hypnotechnician and authorizes only physicians, dentists, and a variety of other unqualified practitioners, to practice hypnosis without medical supervision. In effect, such a law requires a psychologist with over six years of graduate training to be supervised in the practice of his or her profession by a layperson who may have no training at all in either psychiatry or hypnosis.--------In addition, the proper method for using hypnosis with a particular patient must take into account the underlying dynamics of his personality. There is no doubt that many lay hypnotists are extremely skillful in inducing hypnosis, and some have taught this technique to professional people. There is no reason why they should not do so; but it is a very different thing to be able to induce a hypnotic state, which can be learned in a few minutes, and to use it to help a patient, which takes many years of training.

--------Although the author believes that stage hypnosis is a proper activity, he does not believe that the practice of hypnosis by hypnotechnician is. Professionals should decline to refer patients to such individuals for treatment. This view may seem to contradict the view that stage hypnosis should not be outlawed because it involves the issue of freedom of speech. Hence, this matter needs clarification. After all, the practice of psychotherapy also is nothing more than two people talking to each other. It is the authorÕs belief that freedom must necessarily include the right to do something that others may consider ill advised or even stupid If a person wants to be treated psychologically (or medically for that matter) by an untrained layperson, he should have the right to do so, and this treatment should not be made illegal. What should be illegal is not the conducting of therapy by a layperson to charge a fee for practicing psychotherapy; this restraint would effectively prevent him or her from making a living by practicing psychology and at the same time preserve the rights of the patient.

Hypnotic Susceptibility

Hypnotic susceptibility or trance capacity refers to the ability of a subject to achieve a given level of hypnotic trance. This in turn makes two assumptions:

1. There is such a phenomenon as a trance state.

2. This state can be meaningfully measured along a depth scale from shallow (hypnoidal) to deep (somnambulistic).

With respect to the first issue, Sutcliffe (1961) has oriented theoretical views about the nature of hypnosis on a scale ranging from "credulous" to "skeptical." At the credulous end of the scale are the "hypnotic state" theorists, who regard a trance state as a phenomenon that enhances the suggestibility of a hypnotized subject. At the skeptical end of the scale are theorists like Barber, who take the view that a hypnotic state is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition to produce the classic effects of hypnosis, or Gibbons, who refers to the notion of a trance state as a "shared delusion."

Barber points out that well-motivated subjects who have not been hypnotized can produce all of these phenomena, while some subjects in a deep trance cannot.

Implicit in the idea of measuring hypnotic susceptibility is the notion that it is a stable personality characteristic as opposed to a situational variable. If susceptibility is, in fact, a stable characteristic of a person, questions arise about what factors cause some people to develop a markedly greater capacity for hypnosis than others and how readily this capacity can be modified.

Does repeated experience with hypnosis improve a subject's ability to achieve a deeper state, in the sense of being able to do things under hypnosis that he formerly was incapable of achieving?

In order to be hypnotized a subject not only has to have the trance capacity, but must also want to be hypnotized and must actively cooperate in the process. It is conceivable that a person with a lot of ability as a hypnotic subject may be afraid of being hypnotized, react negatively to the hypnotist, or be suffering from some physical or mental distraction at the time of an original attempt at hypnosis. The subject will thus appear to be a poor subject.

If after repeated hypnotic sessions these fears abate, the subject's rapport with the hypnotist improves, or his motivation to be hypnotized increases, he may achieve a much deeper trance. This result may give the illusion that the practice has improved the subject's basic trance capacity when in fact it has not. It is clear that the best subject cannot be hypnotized unless he wants to be.

Thus, tests of hypnotic susceptibility are valid only when the tester is certain that the subject is will motivated and doing his best.

To avoid semantic confusion the term hypnotic susceptibility or trance capacity will be used when referring to the stable or long-term ability of a subject to be hypnotized, and the term hypnotizability will denote the net effect of susceptibility plus any operative situational factors affecting the hypnotic ability of a subject at a given time.

Unfortunately, this distinction is not generally made in the literature, and usually the terms susceptibility and hypnotizability are used interchangeably, resulting in a great deal of confusion in research dealing with the issue of whether susceptibility is modifiable.

It is a common experience that subject exposed to repeated hypnotic sessions tend to enter the trance state more rapidly on successive sessions and often appear to develop greater depth. It is for this reason a good idea not to give up therapeutic efforts on what may seem like a poor subject without at least a few trials. (Fortunately many therapeutic applications do not require a very deep trance.)

Hypnotic Induction Profile (HIP)

The Hypnotic Induction Profile (HIP) was developed by Herbert Spiegal for clinical use. Like any clinical instrument, it is designed to be individually administered. The main advantage claimed for it is its speed of administration. It expresses Hypnotic susceptibility on a 5-point scale and requires only about 5 minutes to administer. Like all of the foregoing instruments, this one is based on the induction of a Hypnotic state, but the induction procedure never uses the word hypnosis, trance or sleep, and in this sense it is an indirect procedure that might be useful with a patient fearful of being hypnotized

Scoring criteria are based on the amount of roll produced in a subject requested to roll his eyes upward and then slowly close his lids, arm levitation, posthypnotic response, amnesia, and subjective reports. Although the test manual does not give either reliability or validity data, or clear scoring instructions, this information is published elsewhere by Spiegal (1977)

While the reliability coefficient reported by Spiegel seems too low to make this instrument a measure of choice in experimental work, it may be adequate of susceptibility is more important than obtaining an accurate or the most sensitive measure possible

Standard hypnotic Arm Levitation Induction and Test  (SHALIT)

Like the HIP, the SHALIT is a brief test designed for clinical usage. It scores the amount coefficient of 0.88, and it correlates 0.63 with a 10-item abbreviation of the SHSS form A. Thus, it is probably a useful scale for clinical work although not sensitive enough for experimental usage because it is limited to a single factor measurement (an ideomotor task)

Barber Suggestibility Scale (BSS)

Unlike any of the foregoing instruments, the Barber Suggestibility Scale does not depend on the induction of a hypnotic state under standardized conditions. It does not purport to be a test of hypnotic susceptibility but of suggestibility, the ability of a subject to produce hypnotic-like behavior whether or not previously subjected to a hypnotic induction procedure. In order to understand the need for this scale and why it was developed, it is necessary to describe BarberÕs theoretical orientation toward hypnosis.

Barber believes that the concept of a hypnotic state is not useful in the study of hypnotic phenomena. He advocates (as did Hull before him) that psychologists should study what precedent conditions (independent variables) are necessary and sufficient to produce responses ( dependent variables), such as catalepsy, analgesia, hallucinations, and so on, that are normally labeled hypnotic behavior. For example, he notes that in most hypnotic induction procedures, at least four specific kinds of independent variables are confounded under the label hypnotic induction:

  1. The situation is defined to the subject as hypnosis
  2. Suggestions of drowsiness, eye closure, and sleep are made
  3. The subject is told that it will be easy to respond to suggestions
  4. The subject is motivated to make the suggested responses

Barber has investigated the effect of each of these factors individually in producing the kinds of behavior commonly labeled as hypnotic. Barber calls instructions including items 3 and 4 only task motivational; he finds that by themselves they are just as effective as hypnotic induction in eliciting hypnotic like behavior on the BSS. Because of his theoretical and methodological orientation, Barber and his students like to put quotes around the terms hypnosis and hypnotic, leading some of his critics to conclude, unjustifiably, that his position denies the existence of hypnotic phenomena. This criticism is inaccurate; his position is not that the phenomena are not real but that the hypnotic state is not a useful explanatory concept to account for them.

Since Barbers theory holds that hypnotic phenomena are produced by some antecedent events that should be isolated, it follows that a test of hypnotic-like behavior-one that does not depend on the prior induction of a hypnotic state-is needed to test these factors. Hence, the BSS can be used to elicit hypnotic-like responses either with or without a prior induction procedure.

As a result of his research, Barber reports that in addition to task-motivational instructions, the tone of the operator’s voice and the subjects attitudes and motives (due to pretest instructions and what the subject is told regarding the purpose of the study) affect results on the test. Variables that do not seem to affect suggestibility measures are whether the subject’s eyes are open or closed, whether instructions are given personally or by tape recording, and the personality of the subject as measured by most standardized test instruments.

The types of items on the BSS are similar to those given on standardized tests of susceptibility; the main difference is that the instructions make no mention of hypnosis. Items tested include the following:

  1. Arm Lowering
  2. Arm Levitation
  3. Hand Lock
  4. Hallucination of thirst
  5. Verbal inhibition
  6. Body immobility
  7. Posthypnotic-like response
  8. Selective amnesia

Following the test and the objective scoring, the subject is asked if he really felt the effect suggested or just went along to please the examiner. The subject is given a subjective score of 1 for each item that he says he really experienced. Thus, subjects get both objectives and subjective scores on this scale, each having a maximum value of 8 (Barber and Wilson, 1978-1979).

Hypnosis in Sports

A major part of an athleteÕs performance is a function of his mental state, which can be profoundly influenced by suggestions, both hypnotic and waking. One of the major functions of the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) is the mobilization of bodily resources for emergency situations for emergency situations, enabling the organism to fight or flee more efficiently when angry or frightened. Increases of up to 33% in strength or endurance can be produced by the emotions of anger or fear. Hence, hypnotic or self-hypnotic suggestions are often used to psych up athletes prior to a performance. In addition to its use in mobilizing appropriate emotional responses, hypnosis is valuable in providing relaxation and increased self-confidence. This is particularly important in athletic activation that requires highly developed skills and concentration such as golf or archery. Kroger (1977b) improves the confidence of golfers in their putting ability by suggesting to them that the hole is the size of a sewer. Training in self-hypnosis is a valuable adjunct to the use of hypnosis in sports, and it renders hypnotic aid available to the athlete whenever needed. Heavyweight boxer Ken Norton habitually used self-hypnosis to prepare himself psychologically for a fight.

Callen ( 1983 ) had 423 long-distance runners complete a questionnaire concerning their thoughts and events commonly occurring during hypnosis

Fifty-four percent of respondents reported subjective feelings of being in an altered state of consciousness, which they produced by such methods as rhythmical breathing, repeating a phrase, counting, imagining music, or imagery. Fifty-nine percent claimed to be more creative while running, and 58% engaged in imagery, often to improve their time or distance. Callen suggests the large population of runners is a valuable resource for the study of spontaneous self-hypnotic phenomena.

Simek and Brien (1981) used hypnosis to develop the mental state required for optimal performance in members of a collegiate fencing team and in a professional boxer. One fencer was given the effective suggestion that every opponent with whom she fenced would remind her of a rival for her boyfriend. Relaxation instructions were given to the boxer to deal with his anxiety, which was causing him to freeze up in the first round. These instructions were followed with suggestions that his opponent was responsible for all of his problems, to marshal anger.

Professional sports are major industries with large amounts of money dependent on successful team performances. Hence, organizations like major league baseball teams have not been hesitant to employ staff psychologists to deal with players personal problems that may interfere with their job performance or to use hypnosis in the securing of peak performance from players.

Although hypnosis may be an aid in optimizing an athletes performance, it cannot create an ability that he does not have. A fighter may be made more aggressive by hypnosis suggestion but, if he cannot box well, hypnosis may result in his being hurt more than if he retained his more cautious boxing style. One major league pitcher who had problems with wild pitches and loss of control was aided by hypnosis in getting the ball over the plate more regularly, only to have the number of hits against him dramatically increase.

The use of hypnosis in sports, both professional and amateur, gives rise to ethical questions as to whether the practice should be prohibited. It is theoretically possible to use pain-reducing suggestions to improve the performance of a runner or even to permit an athlete with an unhealed injury to play, in a manner analogous to drugging a racehorse that has an injured leg. There is a distinction of course, between a racehorse and a human professional athlete who is able to understand the risks involved and provide an informed consent to the procedure. On the other hand, a high school or even a college athlete is often not mature enough to resist the pressure produced by feelings of duty to his teammates or school. He may thus be subjected to undue influence to consent to such an ill-advised procedure. The author regards the employment of hypnosis by psychologist in such a case as both a violation of professional ethics and malpractice.

Hypnosis Defined

Hypnosis is popularly understood to be a psychological condition in which an individual may be induced to exhibit apparent changes in behavior or thought patterns-in particular an increase in suggestibility and subjective feelings of relaxation. The procedure by which this is achieved is called hypnotism

Intense debates surround the topic of hypnosis Many scientists dispute its very existence, while many therapists insist upon its value. One of the problems that creates controversy is the wide variety of theories of hypnosis. The definitions of hypnosis are as varied as the definers. Dr William S. Kroger states:

Like the nature of human behavior, there will be different theories about hypnosis since all hypnotic phenomena have their counterpart in the various aspects of human behavior (1977)

The applications of hypnosis vary widely. Currently, two distinct applications of hypnosis include its use in entertainment and in health applications and in health applications. The popular perception of the hypnotic experience is that of the entertainment version. The stage hypnotist uses a variety of methods to relax and focus the subject eventually making it appear to the audience that the subject is asleep or, popularly termed, in trance. During the performance, the subjects seem to obey the commands of the hypnotist to engage in behaviors they might not normally choose to perform.

On the other hand, hypnosis applications in the medical ion, and health-related fields are often experienced very differently. Clinical hypnosis is used in attempts to increase the ability to recall memories, assist with dieting, smoking cessation, pain reduction or elimination, eliminating irritable bowl syndrome (IBS) as well as resolving mental disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder( PTSD), anxiety and depression ion

Hypnosis Defined By The American Psychological Association

In 1933, the American Psychological Association defined hypnosis as “a procedure which a health professional or researcher suggests that a client, patient, or experimental participant experiences changes in sensations, perceptions, thoughts, or behavior”

This definition was revised and expanded March 2005. It begins, ÒHypnosis typically involves an introduction to the procedure during which the subject is told that suggestions for imaginative experiences will experience will be presented”

Hypnosis Defined In Physiological Terms: Alpha and Theta State-based Definitions

Through data collected via electroencephalography (EEGs), four major brain wave –patterns-frequency of electrical impulses firing from the brain-have been identified. The Beta state (alert/working) is defined as 14-32 cycles per second (CPS), the Alpha state (relaxed/reflecting) falls in the 7-14 CPS range, the Theta state (drowsy) from 4-7 CPS,

And Delta state (sleeping/dreaming/deep sleep) is defined as approximately 3-5 CPS.

One physiological definition of hypnosis states that the brainwave level necessary to work on issues such as stopping smoking, weight management, reduction of phobias, sports improvement, etc, is the alpha state. The alpha state is commonly associated with closing oneÕs eyes, relaxation, and daydreaming.

Another physiological definition states that the theta state is required for therapeutic change. The theta state is associated with hypnosis for surgery, hynoanesthesia andhypnoanalgesia, which occur more readily in the theta and delta states. It should be noted that hypnoanalesia of the skin is a common test for somnambulism. Arm and body catalepsy are one of a few tests done to determine readiness for these surgical applications.

However, it is important to reflect upon the fact that both arm and body catalepsy can be induced in non-hypnotized subjects. Indeed, arm catalepsy is a standard stage-hypnotist test of susceptibility. Moreover, normal, non-hypnotized subjects can be found in any of these states of cortical arousal without also displaying any of the behavior, traits or the enhanced suggestibility associated with being hypnotized

Dave Elman Definition Of Hypnosis

He defines hypnosis as “a state of mind in which the critical faculty of the human mind is bypassed, and selective thinking established.” The critical faculty of your mind is that part which passes judgment. It distinguishes between concepts of hot and cold, sweet and sour, large and small, dark and light. If we can bypass this critical faculty in such a way that you no longer distinguish between hot and cold, sweet and sour, we can substitute selective thinking for conventional judgment making

Michael Yapko defines hypnosis: hypnosis is a process of influential communication in which the clinician elicits and guides the inner associations of the client in order to establish or strengthen therapeutic associations in the context of a collaborative and mutually responsive goal-oriented relationship”

Stage Application Of Hypnosis

Stage hypnosis is where a hypnotist chooses volunteers from the audience, puts the volunteers into a trance using hypnosis, and then has them perform certain silly, funny, or supposedly “amazing” suggestions. This could be like having the volunteers believe they are: drunk: aliens speaking a strange alien language and having another volunteer translate the language; naked or seeing others naked; 6-year-old children; ballet dancers-and the list goes on. All suggestions are temporary and usually only last during the show. When performed correctly, stage hypnosis is basically having fun with the subconscious is basically having fun with the subconscious mind without any serious detrimental side effects. It’s all performed for entertainment and with the welfare of the volunteers in mind. Stage hypnosis can be the most entertaining field because it involves “ real” people from the audience responding in a variety of ways which usually makes no two shows the same.

Hypnotically Induced Emotional States

Since an emotion is generally regarded as a combination of the activities of the ANS, the subjective perception of these activities, and the accompanying ideation, it follows that hypnotically suggested emotional states are closely related to the physiological effects of hypnosis. Because the ANS is generally not under voluntary control, many of the physiological effects producible under hypnosis may in fact be mediated by emotional states that are more directly produced by hypnotic suggestion.

Hodge and Wagner (1964) cited a collection of studies that utilized hypnotically induced emotional states to test the validity of the Rorschach test by inducing various emotional states in subjects and seeing if the resultant Rorschach protocol was changed in the predicted direction (Bergmann, Graham, and Leavitt, 1947; Counts and Mensh, 1950; Lane, 1948; Levine, Grassi, and Gerson, 1943; Mercer and Gibson, 1950; Sarbin, 1939). They then embarked on a line of inverse research designed not to demonstrate the validity of a projective technique but to show the reality of hypnotically suggested emotional states by demonstrating that these states produced appropriate changes in responses to a projective test assumed to be valid. For this purpose, the Hands Test, which consists of nine pictures of a pair of hands in ambiguous positions, was used. The subject was required to describe the activities the hands were engaged in. For a tenth card, which was blank, the subject was required to imagine a set of hands and describe their activities. In the first study, a middle-aged patient was used as the only subject. She was tested in the normal waking condition to establish a baseline and was diagnosed as a passive-dependent personality type. She was then given the test under neutral hypnosis, with remarkably similar results. She was subsequently administered this test under five different hypnotically induced emotional states (with instructions after each testing to forget the test). The five emotional states suggested were:

  1. Dwelling on a happy thought.
  2. Anticipating a pleasant sexual experience.
  3. Unhappiness over her husband leaving her.
  4. Anger over unjust criticism.
  5. Falling in love.

Hodge found that in each state, the patient's basic personality features were reflected in test results, but the effects of the suggested emotional state were also apparent.

In a follow-up study, seven subjects were tested to permit a statistical analysis of results. Only two induced emotional states, affection and aggression, were used. Responses to the Hands Test obtained in these states were compared to the results obtained from the administration of the test in the waking and neutral hypnosis conditions. In both emotions, it was found that the number of test responses appropriate to the suggested emotion increased from the baseline condition. It was also noted that responses appropriate to the noninduced emotion were lower than in the baseline condition (Hodge, Wag-ner, and Schreiner, 1966a). Hodge, Wagner, and Schreiner (1966b) con-cluded that a hypnotically induced emotion can be considered similar to a naturally occurring one, provided it can be demonstrated that the behavior and test responses of subjects are similar (under the hypnotically induced emotion) to their behavior and test responses under the naturally occurring emotion. They also found that the subject's behavior was different from that In the control state, that each test situation was perceived by the subject as a new experience, and that the effects of acting could be eliminated.