Is high hypnotic suggestibility necessary for successful hypnotic pain intervention?

University of Hartford, Department of Psychology, 200 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06117, USA.
Current Pain and Headache Reports (Impact Factor: 2.26). 05/2008; 12(2):98-102. DOI: 10.1007/s11916-008-0019-0
Source: PubMed


Hypnotic suggestibility is a trait-like, individual difference variable reflecting the general tendency to respond to hypnosis and hypnotic suggestions. Research with standardized measures of hypnotic suggestibility has demonstrated that there are substantial individual differences in this variable. Higher suggestibility has been found to be associated with greater relief from hypnotic pain interventions. Although individuals in the high suggestibility range show the strongest response to hypnotic analgesia, people of medium suggestibility, who represent approximately one third of the population, also have been found to obtain significant relief from hypnosis. Thus, high hypnotic suggestibility is not necessary for successful hypnotic pain intervention. However, the available evidence does not support the efficacy of hypnotic pain interventions for people who fall in the low hypnotic suggestibility range. However, some studies suggest that these individuals may benefit from imaginative analgesia suggestions, or suggestions for pain reduction that are delivered while the person is not in hypnosis.

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    • "The novelty and relevance of the present findings consist of the indication that, in healthy subjects, non hypnotic suggestions for analgesia are effective not only in highs and mediums, but also in lows. Thus, our findings extend the potential use of the suggestions of analgesia to the general population and may account for their efficacy in chronic pain patients independently of hypnotisability [46], [47], [48]. "
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    ABSTRACT: In healthy subjects with high hypnotisability (highs) under hypnosis, subjectively effective suggestions for analgesia abolish the increases in blood pressure associated with cold pressor test (cpt) by reducing the peripheral vascular resistance. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of the suggestions of analgesia on the responses to cpt in healthy highs (n = 22) and in low hypnotisable participants (lows, n = 22) out of hypnosis. Cpt was administered without (CPT) and with suggestions for analgesia (CPT+AN). Psychophysical (pain intensity, pain threshold, cpt duration (time of immersion) and pain tolerance, defined as the difference between cpt duration and pain threshold), respiratory (amplitude and frequency) and autonomic variables (tonic skin conductance, mean RR interval (RR = 1/heart rate), blood pressure, skin blood flow) were studied. The suggestions for analgesia increased cpt duration and RR in both groups, but decreased pain intensity and enhanced pain threshold only in highs; in both groups they did not modulate systolic blood pressure, tonic skin conductance and skin blood flow; thus, increased parasympathetic activity appears responsible for the heart rate reduction induced by suggestions in both groups. In conclusion, our findings show that suggestions modulate pain experience differentially in highs and lows, and are partially effective also in lows. We hypothesize that the mechanisms responsible for the efficacy of suggestions in healthy lows may be involved also in their efficacy in chronic pain patients with low hypnotisability.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    • "Imaginative suggestions can be used on those who are not induced into hypnosis due to low hypnotic susceptibility. This situation has the patient imagine, while suggestions are given without inducing hypnosis [27]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness that comprises of heightened absorption in focal attention, dissociation of peripheral awareness, and enhanced responsiveness to social cues. Hypnosis has a long tradition of effectiveness in controlling somatic symptoms, such as pain. Pain, the most common symptom in clinical practice, is a multi-dimensional experience, which includes sensory-discriminative, affective-emotional, cognitive and behavioral components. There is a growing recognition for hypnosis and related techniques in pain management. Psychological approaches to pain control, such as hypnosis, can be highly effective analgesics, but are underused in Korea. In this article, we would like to review the basic concepts of hypnosis, the mechanism, and the outcome data of the analgesic effects of hypnosis, and also, its limitations.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · The Korean journal of pain
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    ABSTRACT: This descriptive study evaluates the hypnoanalgesic experience's effect on participants' hypnotizability and opinions about hypnosis and identifies factors associated with hypnotizability. Hypnotizability was assessed using the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale: Form A in 290 women 1 month after their participation in a randomized clinical trial evaluating hypnotic intervention for pain/anxiety versus standard care during pregnancy termination. Opinions were collected before and after the intervention. The regression model describing hypnotizability (F = 13.55; p < .0001; R(2) = 0.20) retained 5 variables but not the intervention group. The variable explaining most of total variance (62.9%) was the level of perceived automaticity/involuntariness. Opinions about hypnosis were modified by the hypnotic experience compared to standard care but were not associated with hypnotizability. Exposure to hypnoanalgesia did not influence hypnotizability but modifies significantly the opinions about hypnosis. Consistent with previous findings, perceived automaticity appears to best predict hypnotizability.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2010 · International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis
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