Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researcher explores ways to make hypnosis a more effective therapeutic technique

23.02.2005


Hypnosis can serve as a valuable adjunct to certain kinds of psychotherapy, says Steven Lynn, professor of psychology at Binghamton University, State University of New York. But not everyone responds to it equally well.



In the popular imagination, a person who submits to hypnosis falls into a trance. The subject slavishly follows the hypnotist’s commands, perhaps to squawk like a chicken, re-enact events from childhood or develop a lasting aversion to cigarettes. When the subject "awakens," he or she forgets everything that happened during the session.

Actually, hypnosis is not like that at all, said Lynn, who has devoted much of his career to establishing a clear, scientific understanding of hypnotic suggestion. A person who responds well to hypnosis takes an active rather than a passive role, working in partnership with the hypnotist. "Hypnosis involves the participant thinking and imagining along with whatever is suggested, in an expectant manner," he said.


In some of his latest work, Lynn tries to pinpoint what makes certain people especially good hypnotic subjects and determine if it’s possible to raise others to their level. One project, supported by a $376,000 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, explores the idea that the ability to respond to hypnotic suggestions "can be changed and enhanced when participants are instructed," Lynn said. Janet Ambrogne, assistant professor in Binghamton University’s Decker School of Nursing, is working on this study along with Lynn and his team of graduate students.

The research team tests subjects to determine how well each responds to hypnotic suggestions. Then researchers provide information about how hypnosis works, trying to eliminate the subject’s misconceptions-for example, that people under hypnosis are gullible and easily led. "We try to encourage them to use their imaginations, rather than to passively respond to the suggestions, and to actively immerse themselves in the experience of whatever is suggested," Lynn said. Researchers also teach subjects how to interpret hypnotic suggestions, so that a misunderstanding won’t lead to an inappropriate response.

Two years into the three-year project, the research indicates that instruction does indeed help people respond better to hypnotic suggestions. By speaking with subjects and letting them watch how others perform under hypnosis, "we can get at least half of initially low-hypnotizable subjects to test as high hypnotizing subjects," Lynn said. The team still needs to figure out, though, which elements of the training do the trick. "Is it telling people they should make an active response? Is it the imagination part of it, when we ask people to vividly imagine what we’ve been suggesting? We don’t know what components are responsible for the effectiveness."

Lynn will also investigate the malleability of hypnotic response in a new study of "mindfulness"-the ability to stay non-judgmentally aware of one’s fluctuating thoughts and feelings. "Many psychotherapies are now recognizing that people try to suppress or conceal feelings," but the more they try to push away unwelcome mental experiences, the more those experiences come back to trouble them, Lynn said. By learning to observe and accept whatever flows through their minds, "individuals can come to desensitize themselves to unsettling thoughts and feelings."

Lynn and his graduate students are working to develop scales that measure a person’s aptitude for mindfulness and see how one’s ranking on those scales correlates to other traits. "Initial results suggest that the ability to be mindful is associated with a variety of positive characteristics, such as positive self esteem and the ability to be absorbed in different experiences, from watching a sunset to reading novels," he said.

Along with other traits, they want to determine if mindfulness correlates to strong hypnotic response. "If we had scales where we could pre-select people who tend to be mindful, and contrast them with people who in everyday life tend to not be especially mindful, we could see whether, for example, there were differences in the way they responded to hypnotic suggestions," Lynn said. "Or we could ask the question, ’Would combining a hypnotic induction with suggestions to be mindful increase people’s suggestibility?’"

If the researchers can figure out what sort of instruction or encouragement helps subjects gain greater benefit from hypnosis, this knowledge could help therapists put hypnosis to better use for clients who want to manage anxiety, lose weight or make other positive changes.

It might also settle certain theoretical controversies. Along with the general public, some schools of psychologists also contend that hypnosis is a state apart from ordinary consciousness, Lynn said. In their research, he and his team "try to consistently debunk that position and show that the same variables that account for non-hypnotic behaviors and experiences account for hypnotic behaviors and experiences."

"My way of thinking," Lynn said, "is that hypnotic responsiveness is associated with attitudes, beliefs, expectancies, motivation, using your imagination and the kinds of strategies people use." If he is correct, and if therapists can help subjects fine-tune those variables, that could increase the value of hypnosis as a therapeutic tool.

Gail C. Glover | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.binghamton.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Routing gene therapy directly into the brain
07.12.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital

nachricht New Hope for Cancer Therapies: Targeted Monitoring may help Improve Tumor Treatment
01.12.2017 | Berliner Institut für Gesundheitsforschung / Berlin Institute of Health (BIH)

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Midwife and signpost for photons

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>