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Hypnosis through the years.

Hypnosis through the years

A person's susceptibility to hypnosis, as measured by a brief test, remain relatively consistent over as many as 25 years, according to a study reported in the February JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY. In the test, an experimenter attempts to hypnotize a subject and then makes a number of suggestions, such as telling the subject his arm is "as stiff as an iron bar" and asking him to try to bend it. The stability of scores on this test make it an important tool in studying clinical uses of hypnosis, such as pain relief, say Stanford University psychologist Carlo Piccione, Ernest R. Hilgard and Philip G. Zimbardo.

In 1985, the researchers gave the 12-item hypnotic susceptibility test to 50 Stanford alumni who had taken the same test in the early 1960s and in 1970. The averages score for the entire group did not markedly change over time; only eight people displayed significant changes after 25 years.

It is not clear why hypnotic susceptibility remains stable despite the many changes in subjects' lives over a quarter century, the researchers say. Moreover, they add, the data fail to resolve the debate over whether hypnosis invloves a special state of mental awareness or an attempt to meet the demands of the hypnotist and justify one's own preconceptions of hypnosis by cooperating with suggestions.
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Title Annotation:susceptibility found to remain constant
Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 4, 1989
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