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Hypnotic suggestibility, psychopathology, and treatment outcome

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Abstract

This article examines the association between hypnotic suggestibility and treatment outcome in the context of various psychological and medical conditions including hypnotic analgesia, smoking cessation, post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociation, asthma, wart remission, eating disorders, obesity, somatization, and psychosis. In no case was high hypnotic suggestibility associated with negative treatment outcome, and in the case of pain management, hypnotic suggestibility has been shown to optimize treatment outcomes. Disorders in which findings regarding the link between suggestibility and treatment outcome are mixed yet promising include smoking cessation, obesity, wart remission, anxiety, somatization, and asthma. Methodological issues and potential mediators of the association between suggestibility and treatment outcome are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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... Por un lado, desde la investigación básica, el estudio de la sugestionabilidad se ha situado como una valiosa vía para mejorar nuestro conocimiento sobre la relación entre mente y cerebro y para la comprensión de determinados procesos cognitivos básicos, entre los que cabe destacar la percepción, la atención, la memoria, la consciencia, la metacognición o la regulación emocional, así como otros aspectos vinculados a la neurociencia, como los correlatos neurales estructurales y funcionales de la hipnotizabilidad, la interconectividad cerebral y estructuras implicadas en el procesamiento diferencial de las sugestiones hipnóticas (ver Landry, Lifshitz y Terhune, et al., 2017, entre otros). Por otro lado, desde el punto de vista de la investigación aplicada, el estudio de la sugestionabilidad es también un asunto de gran interés debido a la relación de esta variable con los resultados de la eficacia de los tratamientos basados en la sugestión: los pacientes más sugestionables responden mejor a las sugestiones terapéuticas que los pacientes menos sugestionables, de forma que a mayor hipnotizabilidad es esperable un mejor rendimiento hipnótico (Barabasz y Perez, 2007;Farb, 2012;Lynn, Shindler y Meyer, 2003;Montgomery, DuHamel y Redd, 2000;Montgomery, Schnur y David, 2011). De esta manera, la posibilidad de identificar a las personas o grupos con mayor sugestionabilidad, es decir, aquellas personas que son más receptivas a la sugestión y, por extensión, a las técnicas basadas en la sugestión, supone un interesante conocimiento de cara a la toma de decisiones clínicas sobre la aplicación de los tratamientos. ...
... En su conjunto, los estudios clínicos y no clínicos indican que la sugestionabilidad podría estar actuando como variable moduladora del inicio y mantenimiento de muchos trastornos emocionales, aunque las revisiones recientes en el campo reclaman más investigaciones con muestras clínicas (Dell, 2017;Lynn et al., 2003;Yard et al., 2008). ...
... En el presente trabajo se ha realizado una comparación del nivel de sugestionabilidad, evaluada mediante autoinforme, entre una muestra de pacientes clínicos y una muestra control de participantes de la población general, así como un análisis de la sugestionabilidad en determinados grupos diagnósticos que hasta la fecha han recibido nula o escasa atención por parte de los investigadores en este campo, como el trastorno obsesivo-compulsivo o el trastorno de pánico. La finalidad de este estudio exploratorio ha sido la de contribuir a la investigación para avanzar en el conocimiento de la sugestionabilidad, así como dar respuesta a la necesidad de estudios en este ámbito que cuenten con muestras clínicas, tal y como han señalado diferentes autores (Dell, 2017;Lynn et al., 2003;Yard et al., 2008). ...
Article
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The assessment of suggestibility and hipnotizability has become a valuable research line in the last decades. However, most studies have focused on general population, and there are limited and insufficient papers dealing with clinical sim-ples. The aim of the present study was to evaluate general suggestibility in a sample of patients (n = 147) compared to a control (non-clinical) group (n = 57), by means of the adminitration of an inventory of suggestibility. Clinical sample participants showed higher levels of suggestibility (overall score) and higher levels of absorption, emotional suggestibility, and influence of others (subscales) than controls. By clinical groups, social anxiety, panic isorder, OCD, and PTSD groups scored higher in suggestibility than controls. These results have relevant implications for clinical practice.
... Suggestions influence cognition and behavior by guiding perception and assigning significance and support therapeutic processes (Gheorghiu, 2000;Kirsch & Low, 2013;Michael, Garry, & Kirsch, 2012). In hypnotherapy, suggestions induce cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and physiological changes (Peter, 2011) and suggestibility predicts treatment outcome in cases of pain, anxiety, somatization, asthma, and nicotine addiction (Lynn, Shindler, & Meyer, 2003;Montgomery, Duhamel, & Redd, 2000). Suggestibility can be increased by hypnosis (Kirsch et al., 2011), training (Gorassini & Spanos, 1986), and psychedelics, including LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin (Carhart-Harris et al., 2015;Middlefell, 1967;Sjoberg & Hollister, 1965). ...
... Moreover, the results indicate application possibilities in hypnotherapeutic areas concerning memory integration (e.g. post-traumatic stress disorder), somatization, pain, and eating disorders (Godoy, 1999;Lynn et al., 2003;Montgomery et al., 2000). Notably, psychedelic-induced suggestibility needs to be prudently applied, since suggestions can engender potentially harmful results, including false memories (Michael et al., 2012;Paddock & Terranova, 2001). ...
Article
Background For a century, psychedelics have been investigated as models of psychosis for demonstrating phenomenological similarities with psychotic experiences and as therapeutic models for treating depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders. This study sought to explore this paradoxical relationship connecting key parameters of the psychotic experience, psychotherapy, and psychedelic experience. Methods In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design, 24 healthy volunteers received 50 μg d -lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or inactive placebo. Psychotic experience was assessed by aberrant salience (Aberrant Salience Inventory, ASI), therapeutic potential by suggestibility (Creative Imagination Scale, CIS) and mindfulness (Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, FFMQ; Mindful Attention Awareness Scale, MAAS; Experiences Questionnaire, EQ), and psychedelic experience by four questionnaires (Altered State of Consciousness Questionnaire, ASC; Mystical Experiences Questionnaire, MEQ; Challenging Experiences Questionnaire, CEQ; Ego-Dissolution Inventory, EDI). Relationships between LSD-induced effects were examined. Results LSD induced psychedelic experiences, including alteration of consciousness, mystical experiences, ego-dissolution, and mildly challenging experiences, increased aberrant salience and suggestibility, but not mindfulness. LSD-induced aberrant salience correlated highly with complex imagery, mystical experiences, and ego-dissolution. LSD-induced suggestibility correlated with no other effects. Individual mindfulness changes correlated with aspects of aberrant salience and psychedelic experience. Conclusions The LSD state resembles a psychotic experience and offers a tool for healing. The link between psychosis model and therapeutic model seems to lie in mystical experiences. The results point to the importance of meaning attribution for the LSD psychosis model and indicate that psychedelic-assisted therapy might benefit from therapeutic suggestions fostering mystical experiences.
... stronger predictor of treatment outcome could be that typical hypnotic interventions rely on relatively easy suggestions that require few hypnotic or imaginative abilities (e.g., relaxation or guided imagery; Lynn et al., 2003). In addition, suggestibility may play a more important role in relation to those problems that do not depend on the patient's willpower (e.g., pain, asthma, or warts-as opposed, i.e., to smoking) and in those where the ability to alter perception, which for many clinicians is the essence of clinical hypnosis, appears to be the key ingredient in therapeutic success (e.g., pain, asthma, or warts; Perry, Gelfand, & Marcovitch, 1979). ...
... In addition, suggestibility may play a more important role in relation to those problems that do not depend on the patient's willpower (e.g., pain, asthma, or warts-as opposed, i.e., to smoking) and in those where the ability to alter perception, which for many clinicians is the essence of clinical hypnosis, appears to be the key ingredient in therapeutic success (e.g., pain, asthma, or warts; Perry, Gelfand, & Marcovitch, 1979). A further point to consider is that it may be worthwhile assessing hypnotic suggestibility not only to test a person's general response to suggestion but also to gauge how that person's beliefs, expectancies, and abilities in relation to hypnosis may be used to optimize suggestibility (Lynn et al., 2003). ...
Article
The aim of the study was to administer the Barber suggestibility scale to a clinical population in Spain and to examine its psychometric properties therein. The reliability and factor structure of the adapted scale was compared with that of the original (American) scale and with data from two other versions (British and Puerto Rican samples). Sex differences in suggestibility were also analyzed. The Barber suggestibility scale was administered (without preliminaries) to a sample of 283 patients (130 women, 153 men) with a range of diagnoses: anxiety disorder (33.9%), substance-related and addictive disorder (25.8%), mood disorder (12.7%), somatic symptom disorder (4.6%), trauma- and stress-related disorder (3.5%), and other disorders (19.5%). Results indicated a higher degree of suggestibility among women, with the effect size being low (d = 0.26) for the objective subscale and moderate (d = 0.55) for the subjective subscale. Therefore, normative scores were reported by sex for both subscales. As a whole, the present clinical sample showed higher suggestibility than has been reported previously for nonclinical populations (p < 0.001; d = 1.56). Reliability indices (Cronbach’s alpha and split-half/Spearman-Brown) for the present adaptation in a clinical population indicated acceptable internal consistency (range 0.70–0.82). Applied to a clinical sample the Barber suggestibility scale showed a three-factor structure for the objective subscale and a more complex structure for the subjective subscale. These results suggest that the Barber suggestibility scale is a suitable instrument for assessing the degree of suggestibility in persons with a clinical disorder.
... Many of the suggestions for relaxation, calmness, and imagining that are routinely used in hypnotic treatments are easy to experience and potentially helpful to many patients (Barber, 1985). Moreover, clinical groups differ little in their hypnotic suggestibility level (see Lynn, Shindler, & Meyer, 2003, with the exception of individuals with PTSD (test higher), obsessive-compulsive disor-der (test somewhat lower), and psychotic conditions (test lower). 4. Successful responding to therapeutic suggestions, combined with pleasant feelings many people experience during and after hypnosis (Coe & Ryken, 1979), can potentially enhance rapport with the therapist and strengthen the therapeutic alliance (Uccheddu & Viola, 2006). 5. Hypnosis can act as a nondeceptive placebo, as many patients believe that hypnosis will augment or accelerate therapeutic outcomes (see Kirsch, 1994). ...
... In developing these interventions, consideration should be given to the type of care environment in which they are to be used, given demands that are placed on co-morbid patients from associated health care providers. Recent developments within the pain literature have suggested that interventions such as hypnosis might be helpful for reducing both pain and anxiety (e.g., DePascalis, Magurano, Bellusci, & Chen, 2001;Lynn, Shindler, & Meyer, 2003). Clearly, the development of treatments to address this special form of co-morbidity has enormous potential, given the prevalence of these patients. ...
Article
Many traumatic events leave lingering physical injuries and chronic pain in their wake, in addition to trauma-related psychopathology. In this review, we provide an overview of developments in the recent literature on comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain. Starting with the conceptual models presented by Sharp and Harvey (2001) and Asmundson, Coons, Taylor, and Klatz (2002), this review summarizes newer studies that examine prevalence of these comorbid conditions. Additionally, we present an updated synthesis of research on factors that may maintain both chronic physical pain and PTSD in trauma survivors. Consideration of the impact of this comorbidity on psychosocial assessment and treatment also is discussed, with particular attention to issues that warrant additional research.
... In no study reported to date is high hypnotic suggestibility associated with a negative treatment outcome (Lynn & Kirsch, 2006). Moreover, in the following disorders or conditions, the findings relating suggestibility and treatment outcome, while not entirely consistent, are at least somewhat promising: smoking cessation, obesity, warts, anxiety, somatization, conversion disorders, and asthma (Lynn, Meyer, & Shindler, 2003). In a study of the hypnotic treatment of conversion disorder, hypnotic suggestibility proved to be a better predictor of outcome than expectancies (Moene, Spinhoven, Hoogduin, & Van Dyck, 2003). ...
... Nevertheless , hypnotic suggestibility is not totally irrelevant to treatment outcome. The link between suggestions of analgesia and hypnotic suggestibility is well established (Lynn & Kirsch, 2006 ), and there is a mixed, but promising , correlation between hypnotic suggestibility and treatment outcome for smoking cessation, obesity, warts, anxiety, somatization, conversion disorders, and asthma (Lynn & Kirsch, 2006; Lynn, Shindler, & Meyer, 2003). In the present study, the strongest correlations were between hypnotic suggestibility and depression and hopelessness at follow-ups. ...
Article
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To investigate the effectiveness of cognitive hypnotherapy (CH), hypnosis combined with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), on depression, 84 depressives were randomly assigned to 16 weeks of treatment of either CH or CBT alone. At the end of treatment, patients from both groups significantly improved compared to baseline scores. However, the CH group produced significantly larger changes in Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Anxiety Inventory, and Beck Hopelessness Scale. Effect size calculations showed that the CH group produced 6%, 5%, and 8% greater reduction in depression, anxiety, and hopelessness, respectively, over and above the CBT group. The effect size was maintained at 6-month and 12-month follow-ups. This study represents the first controlled comparison of hypnotherapy with a well-established psychotherapy for depression, meeting the APA criteria for a "probably efficacious" treatment for depression.
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Hypnosis: A Brief History crosses disciplinary boundaries to explain current advances and controversies surrounding the use of hypnosis through an exploration of the history of its development. examines the social and cultural contexts of the theories, development, and practice of hypnosis crosses disciplinary boundaries to explain current advances and controversies in hypnosis explores shifting beliefs about the nature of hypnosis investigates references to the apparent power of hypnosis over memory and personal identity.
Chapter
Hypnosis comprises two components: an induction procedure centering on the suggestion to enter a hypnotic state, and imaginative suggestions for various changes in experience and behavior. Hypnotherapy is the addition of hypnosis to a psychological or medical treatment. Research indicates that hypnosis can augment the effects of psychological treatments for obesity, depression, public-speaking anxiety, smoking, and acute stress disorder. Hypnotic suggestions can also produce clinically meaningful reductions in pain. The ability to respond to hypnotic suggestions varies between people but even low-suggestible individuals may benefit from hypnotic interventions.Keywords:individual differences;practice in clinical psychology;psychology of consciousness;hypnosis;hypnotherapy
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This article introduces the reader to hypnosis, from its rich history dating to the late 18th century to modern applications as an adjunctive psychotherapeutic intervention in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and other conditions. From the days of Mesmer to contemporary mindfulness and acceptance-based approaches, our review sketches the broad clinical landscape in which hypnosis has been employed to catalyze diverse interventions ranging from psychoanalytic to cognitive–behavioral treatments. We discuss how suggestion can be used to advantage in psychotherapy to mitigate problems in living and alleviate symptoms associated with psychological disorders and conditions, including depression and posttraumatic responses. We suggest that hypnosis affords contemporary practitioners a creative, viable, and perhaps underutilized addition to their efforts to provide patients with effective interventions.
Chapter
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Epidemiologische Studien zeigen, dass posttraumatische Belastungsstörung (PTBS, engl. „posttraumatic stress disorder“, PTSD) ein nicht zu vernachlässigendes Problem darstellen. Sexuelle übergriffe, Verkehrsunfälle, Kampfhandlungen, Naturkatastrophen oder kriminelle Straftaten sind leider keine Seltenheit. Bei fast allen Traumatisierten treten im unmittelbaren Anschluss an das Trauma Symptome wie ungewollte belastende Erinnerungen, Vermeidung traumarelevanter Stimuli oder Schreckhaftigkeit auf. Meist sind diese Symptome vorübergehend. Bei einem beachtlichen Anteil von 15–24% der Traumaexponierten bleiben die Symptome allerdings bestehen und es entwickelt sich eine PTBS (Breslau et al. 1991; Kessler et al. 1995).
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The mediator role of response expectancies and the moderator role of hypnotic suggestibility were evaluated in the analogue treatment of pain. Approximately 1,000 participants were assessed for hypnotic suggestibility. Later, as part of a seemingly unrelated experiment, 188 of these individuals were randomly assigned to distraction, cognitive-behavioral package, hypnotic cognitive-behavioral package, hypnotic analgesia suggestion, placebo control, or no-treatment control conditions. Response expectancies partially mediated the effects of treatment on pain. Hypnotic suggestibility moderated treatment and was associated with the relief produced only by the hypnotic interventions. The results suggest that response expectancies are an important mechanism of hypnotic and cognitive-behavioral pain treatments and that hypnotic suggestibility is a trait variable that predicts hypnotic responding across situations, including hypnosis-based pain interventions.
Chapter
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This chapter concentrates on the use of hypnosis in the treatment of phobias as an adjunct to cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, insight therapy, and other approaches. We review experimental research that finds that the effectiveness of hypnosis in the treatment of phobias seems to be related to the often high hypnotic responsivity of phobics and their unusual capacity for imagery vividness, focused attention, and flexibility in information-processing strategies. Review investigations of the relationship between hypnotizability and phobias that implicate cognitive skills such as imagery, absorption, and dissociative-like attention that may be used in the development and maintenance of phobias. Because hypnotizability has been shown to be related to therapeutic outcome when hypnosis is used, we show how the standardized testing of hypnotic susceptibility level during clinical evaluations may facilitate the choice of the most appropriate therapeutic approach. Two case studies, school-phobic child and a phobia of a single phase of airplane flight activity, are presented to illustrate the importance of the assessment of hypnotic susceptibility and the tailoring of the particular hypnotic intervention in a wider therapeutic context to fit the characteristics of the individual. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Hypnotizability, subjective experiences during hypnotizability assessment, and dissociation were studied in 53 eating disorder patients in order to explore the relationship between these phenomena. Dissociation was measured with a newly developed self-reporting Dissociation-Questionnaire (DIS-Q), level of hypnotizability was assessed with the Stanford Hypnotic Clinical Scale (SHCS), subjective experiences during hypnosis with the Dutch Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory (DPCI), and the Dutch Resistance to Hypnosis Scale (DRHS). Compared with normals, eating disorder patients scored significantly higher on the DIS-Q and SHCS. Compared with restricting anorexics, anorexics of the mixed type as well as bulimics report higher scores on both the DIS-Q and SHCS, but a significant difference was found only for the DIS-Q subscale loss of control. Although positive correlations between the DIS-Q and SHCS were found, the magnitude of the correlations shows that both instruments probably are measuring different constructs. Some implications of these findings are discussed.
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This paper gives an account of the relationship between hypnosis, hypnotizability, dissociation and disordered eating. A detailed update of the outcome of studies employing hypnotic techniques in the treatment of the two dieting disorders anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa is provided. The role of dissociation and the contribution of hypnosis is evaluated.
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There is growing evidence of a correlation between bulimia nervosa and hypnotic susceptibility. The present study supports the existence of a similar relationship in non-clinical populations between restrained eating and increased hypnotizability. In the second part of the study, a modified version of the Creative Imagination Scale was used to investigate the responsiveness of restrained and non-restrained eaters in a non-clinical group to suggestions of body image change. Non-restrained eaters resisted suggestions both of increased and decreased body size. The restrained eaters also resisted suggestions of decreased body size but were more responsive to suggestions of increased body size. Implications for the aetiology and treatment of eating disorders are considered. Copyright © 1996 British Society of Experimental and Clinical Hypnosis
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A multidimensional measure of schizotypal personality, the Personality Syndrome Questionnaire (PSQ) was completed by 83 undergraduate medical students. It was predicted that perceptual and cognitive reality distortions would be positively associated with hypnotic susceptibility. Fifteen of 84 items showed the predicted association. When combined into a preliminary scale, a correlation of 0.43 was found for the total scale score and susceptibility. Cronbach's alpha for this scale was acceptable at 0.77. These preliminary results are potentially vulnerable to type I error. Replication on a larger sample and factorial analysis of the proposed scales structure are required and underway. Copyright © 2001 British Society of Experimental and Clinical Hypnosis
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Many clinicians believe that hypnotizability is not of significance in the clinical use of hypnosis. This may be due to the lack of clinically useful tests of hypnotizability until recently or to the fact that there are often dramatic responses to hypnotic suggestion in a light trance. A literature review reveals examples of a high correlation between hypnotizability and therapeutic responsiveness and a possible relationship between hypnotizability and diagnosis and/or etiology. It is concluded that clinicians should test hypnotizability regularly both as a diagnostic tool and to add to the body of information concerning the clinical importance of hypnotizability.
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Comments that despite experimental evidence that hypnotic susceptibility is a relatively stable characteristic of the individual, and one that is difficult to modify, clinical investigators tend to , who found that susceptibility was unrelated to the successful treatment of a socially learned behavior (cigarette smoking). Both studies confirmed the earlier finding of a lack of relation. In Study 1, however, stepwise multiple regression analysis located 3 inventory items concerning the motivation of cigarette smokers. The combination of items was found to predict outcome for 67.39% of 46 clients treated either by hypnosis or by rapid smoking. The finding was replicated in Study 2, which utilized a combined hypnosis/rapid smoking technique and employed a different therapist. The outcome for 9 of the 13 quitters and 37 of the 62 nonquitters across the 2 studies could be predicted by the 3 motivational questionnaire variables. (59 ref)
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The Rorschach and the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form A (SHSS:A) were administered to a sample of 56 chronic psychotic patients, mainly schizophrenics (N = 48). Verbatim transcriptions of tape-recorded Rorschach protocols were scored according to the Holt system (Holt et al., 1963), which provides an index of adaptive regression. Experimental procedures were conducted single blind. With one exception, all the patients high on SHSS: A were among those obtaining a higher adaptive regression index, while 50% of those obtaining higher adaptive regression index were high on SHSS:A. A systematic investigation of ego functions was proposed for a better understanding of this asymmetry, although the results already gave ostensible positive support to the Gill and Brenman (1959) theory, and to the theory of ego autonomy.
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Data on the hypnotizability of 113 psychiatric inpatients and 58 normal control subjects were compared. The patients' mean score on the Hypnotic Induction Profile was significantly lower than that of the control subjects, but on the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale: Form C, these patients and control subjects did not differ significantly. On both scales rank-ordered scores of different diagnostic groups of the patients supported the theory that hypnotizability varies according to type of psychopathology. Some results, such as the hypnotizability of the schizophrenic patients, depended on which scale was used. This finding may explain the conflicting literature on the hypnotic potential of schizophrenic patients.
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Historic and current reports in the literature involving applications of hypnosis with anorectic patients are reviewed and integrated to explicate core aspects of hypnotic interventions in treating anorexia nervosa. A comprehensive hypnotherapeutic approach is delineated which emphasizes the use of hypnotic strategies to reduce tension, enhance self-control, support increased and realistic body awareness, alter distorted body image, and foster appropriate autonomy and individuation. Preliminary data are also reviewed which support the clinical efficacy of this approach.
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Patients with multiple personalities are excellent hypnotic subjects, a capability demonstrated both clinically and on a standard hypnotizability test. They tend to experience a plethora of symptoms associated with anxiety states, hysteria, obsessional neuroses, phobic states, depression and mania, schizophrenia, alcoholism, sociopathy, and hyperactivity--although there are exceptions to this profile. Both males and females suffer from this disability, and an MMPI profile for female multiples is described.
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Reviews recent experimental evidence on the hypnotic treatment of obesity, cigarette smoking, alcoholism, clinical pain, warts, and asthma. It is concluded that although hypnosis may be effective with addictive behavior, the therapeutic success is attributable to nonhypnotic factors. In contrast, hypnosis appears to be of unique value in the treatment of clinical pain, warts, and asthma. Differential effectiveness may be attributable to the nature of the disorders or to the manner in which hypnosis is used in treating them. The relevance of hypnotizability to treatment is discussed, as is the need to distinguish between genuine and placebo-based hypnotic effects. It is concluded that future research must be more attentive to the (a) nature of the disorders and patient populations, (b) adequate implementation of therapeutic techniques, (c) context in which treatment is delivered, and (d) influence of hypnotic susceptibility and other S factors on outcome. (41/2 p ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).
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The belief that psychotic individuals cannot be hypnotized or have diminished hypnotic capacity can be challenged. The empirical work that has been done thus far has focused almost exclusively on schizophrenic patients, ignoring other types of psychotic illness. Little attention has been given to a Dumber of important factors, such as accurate diagnosis, current level of functioning, age, chronicity of illness, medication, course of hospitalization, and similar variables that may he important in the determination of hypnotizability in individuals with severe psychiatric problems. In addition, only a single measure of hypnotic ability has been typically taken in assessing hypnotizability levels in psychiatric patients. Questions concerning the effect of psychiatric illness as well as of treatment on hypnotic ability are naturally raised. Finally, the question of the usefulness of hypnotic assessment in the clinic is addressed.
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The effect of several commonly used psychoactive medications on hypnotizability in a population of psychiatric inpatients and outpatients is reported. Hypnotizability was measured using the Hypnotic Induction Profile among 115 psychiatric patients who were diagnosed according to research diagnostic criteria. Hypnotizability scores were analyzed on the basis of psychiatric diagnosis and medication received. No significant effects on scores were found for antipsychotic or antidepressant medications, or lithium. However, those anxious patients receiving antianxiety agents obtained scores which were nearly significantly higher than those without such medication. These data suggest that among a seriously disturbed psychiatric population, the use of appropriate psychoactive medications does not hamper hypnotizability and in certain cases the treatment effect of the medication may indeed improve it.
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Studies of hypnotic, covert and overt aversive techniques have yielded equivocal results when each has been examined for a singular effect on weight lost. Some have advocated study of effective combinations of techniques before investing in other applications. Two programs of hypnosis, imagery, diet, tape, behavior management and support but differing in the overt use of aversion (electric shock, disgusting tastes smells) were examined. A total of 172 overweight adult women were treated, 86 in a hypnosis only and 86 in an overt aversion and hypnosis program. Both programs achieved significant weight losses. Although subjects who received overt aversion attained somewhat more desired goals and lost more weight than subjects recovering only hypnosis, the differences were not significant.
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Study 1 compared overweight adult women smokers (n = 50) and nonsmokers (n = 50) in an hypnosis-based, weight-loss program. Smokers and nonsmokers achieved significant weight losses and decreases in Body Mass Index. Study 2 treated 100 women either in an hypnosis only (n = 50) or an overt aversion and hypnosis (n = 50) program. This multicomponent follow-up study replicated significant weight losses and declines in Body Mass Index. The overt aversion and hypnosis program yielded significantly lower posttreatment weights and a greater average number of pounds lost.
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This study (n = 465) examined if (a) hypnotic susceptibility (assessed by the Harvard Group Scale, Form A) was related to state and trait depression, and physical and social anhedonia, and (b) phenomenological experiences (assessed by the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory [PCI]) varied with depression, anhedonia,and hypnotizability during hypnosis, compared with a sitting quietly condition. Only physical anhedonia showed a weak, but significant, negative correlation with hypnotizability. Hypnosis, compared with the sitting quietly condition, facilitated lowering of feelings of sadness especially for the chronically depressed. Other results pertaining to phenomenological experiences suggest that in future studies, instead of only correlating individual difference variables with hypnotizability, it may be more fruitful to explore their relationships with what happens during hypnosis in terms of reported phenomenological experiences.