Barber, Theodore Xenophon (1965). Physiological effects of ‘hypnotic suggestions’: A critical review of recent research (1960-64). Psychological Bulletin, 201-222.

Recent studies are reviewed which were concerned with the effectiveness of suggestions given under “hypnosis” and “waking” experimental treatments in alleviating allergies, ichthyosis, myopia, and other conditions and in eliciting deafness, blindness, hallucinations, analgesia, cardiac acceleration and deceleration, emotional responses, urine secretion to sham water ingestion, narcotic-like drug effects, and other phenomena. The review indicates that a wide variety of physiological functions can be influenced by suggestions administered under either hypnosis or waking experimental treatments, and direct and indirect suggestions to show the particular physiological manifestations are crucial variables in producing the effects.

Black, Stephen (1964). Mind and body. London: Kimber
NOTES: Defines psychosomatic disease as one that responds to psychotherapy. Believes only 5% are highly hypnotizable, that hypnosis is learnable in 1/2 hour, that hypnosis is not a useful treatment for psychosomatic disorders because you can’t use interpretation [of unconscious]. The ‘unconscious’ is “… a complex of informational systems derived from such primaeval mechanisms” (p. 133). “Primaeval mind is involved in these mechanisms of genetics and immunology” (p. 133). “There is thus a ‘somatic mind’ which is unconscious and presumably without any means of verbalization of experience–and a ‘cerebral mind’ which is conscious” (p. 133). The dividing line is not clear.
Rapport is discussed on pp. 160, 169 as one of the spontaneous characteristics of hypnosis, in the absence of suggestion. The same for posthypnotic suggestion (rapport and amnesia). Spontaneous _physiological_ changes in hypnosis relate to mind-body relationships (p. 169)
Conditioned reflex is discussed on p. 161
“…the subjective evidence indicates that a perceptual change involving any sensory modality can be produced by DSUH” [direct suggestion under hypnosis] p. 178. Suggestion can selectively affect different parts of the body p. 197.
Research: “Hypnosis is not only the most important and practical way of _proving_ the existence of the unconscious–which is still in doubt in some circles–but is in fact the only way in which unconscious mechanisms can be manipulated under repeatable experimental conditions for purposes of investigation” (p. 152).
Mind-body is “amenability to control” Catatonia, which characterizes both animal and human hypnosis, seen in hypnosis, is induced by constriction (i.e. disorientation). The Cartesian concept of mind and body tends to confuse the issue p. 157.
Rapport is discussed (p. 157).
Suggestion (p. 159) “It was this concept of ‘suggestion’–which so obviously parallels ‘amenability to control’ in animals–that eventually established hypnosis in the French schools of psychiatry as a state of increased suggestibility. … still the standard definition of hypnosis in most medical psychiatric textbooks and in lay dictionaries” (p. 159).

Black (1969) did some biochemical sleuthing to learn how information transmitted by words becomes information encoded somatically, as when psychosomatic allergies flare and recede or disappear. What accounts for suggestion “curing” an allergic skin reaction in one part of the body while another part not included in the suggestion remains reactive? What accounts for the instantaneous skin allergy cure which sometimes occurs with suggestion (in 24 hours)?
Skin sensitivity tests in highly hypnotizable Ss who were also very allergic were inhibited by direct suggestion under hypnosis under highly controlled experimental conditions–and in one subject the effect (inhibition) was relatively permanent–ruling out (he suggests) a neurological mechanism. He did further experiments to examine whether the result was due to an instant neurological mechanism and a long-term endocrinal mechanism.
p. 212 He ruled out peripheral blood flow as the cause of diminished skin sensitivity (there was no change in blood flow with suggestions of heat or cold). Therefore decrease in blood flow couldn’t explain in neurovascular terms the ‘instant’ inhibition of skin sensitivity (allergy) tests. Was it due to systemic–especially adrenal– changes? He demonstrated increases in plasma cortisol under hypnosis with suggestions of fear. On p. 230 he summarizes the facts he established by skin sensitivity tests, plasma- cortisol studies, and histology – endocrinological.


Schnyer DM. Allen JJ. Attention-related electroencephalographic and event-related potential predictors of responsiveness to suggested posthypnotic amnesia. International Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis 1995;43(3):295-315 Higher frequency electroencephalographic (EEG) activity around 40 Hz has been shown to play a role in cognitive functions such as attention. Furthermore, event-related brain potential (ERP) components such as N1 and P1 are sensitive to selective attention. In the present study, 40-Hz EEG measures and early ERP components were employed to relate selective attention to hypnotic response. Participants were 20 low hypnotizable individuals, half assigned as simulators, and 21 high hypnotizable individuals. Each of these groups was subsequently divided into two groups based on recognition amnesia scores. The four groups differed in 40-Hz (36-44 Hz) EEG spectral amplitude recorded during preinduction resting conditions but not in EEG amplitude postinduction. The groups also differed in N1 amplitudes recorded during hypnosis. Regression analysis revealed that these effects only distinguish the high hypnotizable participants who experienced recognition amnesia from all other groups. The findings support the role of selective attention in hypnotic responsiveness, and the utility of subdividing high hypnotizable individuals is discussed.
Simon MJ, Salzberg HC The effect of manipulated expectancies on posthypnotic amnesia Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 1985;33(1):40-51 The effects of manipulated S expectancy and direct suggestions for amnesia on posthypnotic amnesia were assessed. 120 undergraduate students were randomly assigned to 6 groups: negative expectancy (for amnesia)/suggestions (for amnesia); no expectancy/suggestions; negative expectancy/no suggestions; no expectancy/no suggestions; and 2 control groups. The results indicated that the expectancy manipulation had no effect on the occurrence of posthypnotic amnesia measured by the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form A (Weitzenhoffer & Hilgard, 1959), whereas suggestions for amnesia were found to have a significant effect. Hypnotized suggestion and no suggestion Ss remembered significantly less than Ss in the nonhypnotized control groups. The implications of the findings were discussed.

Bowers, Kenneth S. (1995, November). Revisiting a Century-Old Freudian Slip — from Suggestion Disavowed to the Truth Repressed. [Paper] Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, San Antonio, TX.

Cites J. Herman, Mason, and Miller who accused Freud of retreating from trauma theory to save his theory. Feminists view the Oedipal theory as a coverup for the denial of child sexual abuse. This moral position fuels trauma theory and practice. It is the moral dimension of this debate that gives so many problems for the investigation of traumatic memory.
The intellectual origins of repressed trauma are examined here. Freud’s early trauma theory, his later conflict theory.

Etiology of Hysteria (1896) presents Freud’s argument, based on 18 patients: child is passive victim of experience imposed on them; memory is repressed and hysterical symptoms are derivatives of these repressed memories; when memories return as pictures the task of therapy is easier than if returning as thoughts. Bartlett’s memory research showed visual image is followed by sense of confidence that surpasses what should be there.
The fact that patients had to be compelled to remember was offered by Freud as evidence against the idea that the memories were suggested. The patients initially would deny the reality of their memories, which Freud used in saying that we should not think that patients would falsely accuse themselves. In letter to Fleiss, he presented the conflict theory, which he presented in 1905 in Three Essays on Sexuality and later in My Views…on Etiology of Neurosis.
In 1905 Freud indicated he was unable to distinguish fantasy from true reports (and did not deny the existence of the latter). Freud often reconstructed the “memories” from dreams, transference, signs, symptoms, fantasies, etc. They were not produced as conscious memories, and it was Freud who inferred the sexual abuse. From signs of distress he took evidence of proof.
Freud presented his theory to his patients and then sought confirmation.
Freud asks us to abandon historical for narrative truth. The problems with Freud’s first theory became worse with his second theory. In Introductory Lectures Freud states that opponents say his treatment talks patients into confirming his theories. He relies on the patient’s inner reality confirming the theoretical ideas given to him. Success depends on overcoming internal resistance, however. The danger in leading a patient astray by suggestion has been exaggerated, because the analyst would have had to not allow the patient to “have his say.” Freud denied strongly ever having done this.
Incorrect interpretations would not be accepted by the patients, and if believed would be suggestion. Brunbaum, another writer, said that this doesn’t mean acceptance of a faulty idea won’t occur. Both Milton Erickson and especially Pierre Janet reported cases in which suggestions were used to give benign memories to replace malignant ones.
Freud also viewed patient resistance to his interpretations as evidence that the interpretations were correct. Thus both resistance and acquiescence were thought to be validating. Popper’s critiques using philosophy of science note that this makes his theory untestable.
Freud could not distinguish between the patient’s reluctant acceptance of the truth and reluctant acceptance of a suggestion.
Contemporary theorists struggle less than Freud did with the problem of suggestion and suggestibility (and Freud did not have available the research on those areas!) Emotional upheaval that accompanies “insight” is readily taken to be validating. It may be true that bad memories are repressed, but that doesn’t mean that all bad memories are true.
Treatment groups focus on recalling memories and sharing memories with others in the group, not on current relationships. Hermann states that the group provides powerful stimulus for remembering. The group, of course, is reinforced by others remembering. Repeatedly considering the possibility of abuse can increase the sense of familiarity.
Current views expressed by some clinicians that certain symptoms and syndromes (eating disorders, etc.) indicate early sexual trauma are similar to Freud’s theory of hysteria. In these proposals, the inability to recall abuse becomes evidence that it occurred; and it tallies with the patient not having a sense of remembering.
Because some believe it is necessary to bring memory to light for cure to occur, there is a tendency to believe the reports of early childhood abuse.
Recognizing that some “memories” may have been a product of a therapist’s suggestion helps prevent untoward effects. Modern therapists recapitulate Freud’s “slip” when they do not acknowledge the role of suggestion.
Endorsing repression does not commit us to a belief that recovered memories must be accurate in all particulars. A memory that is repressed does not escape the usual kinds of degradation of memory.
And just because the material comes from unconscious sources, or has emotional accompaniments, it doesn’t mean it is true. (Bowers gave an example of his dream that Israel and Venezuela shared a common border, which was rectified by his waking awareness of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean. He noted that nothing like the Atlantic can be called upon if the dream is that one’s parent molested oneself at the age of six.)
Ian Hacking, in Rewriting the Soul, labels a more fundamental indeterminacy (for the historical past itself). Bathing rituals in childhood can be redescribed as abuse, which determines the historical past rather than describing it. It is thus easier to justify abuse if the event is something that can be reinterpreted. For example, the conflicts of adolescents with their parents, may be reinterpreted later if personality problems continue. If in adulthood one concludes that abuse occurred, then bathing rituals can be reinterpreted as if it were earlier abuse, as if the abuse has continued for years.

Farvolden, Peter; Bowers, Kenneth. S.; Woody, Erik Z. (1994, October). Hypnotic amnesia: Avoiding the intentional loop. [Paper] Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, San Francisco

Social-cognitive position is that suggestions for amnesia lead to motivated attempts to forget, and the sense of nonvolition is due to attributional error. Neo- dissociation position is that post-hypnotic amnesia is activated by suggestions, and material is not available to consciousness. Ss may mistakenly attribute their amnesia to their own efforts, or to their imaginings. (See their analgesia studies.)
Used a recall organization paradigm. Ss learn 16 item categorized word list, then are given suggestion to forget one category. After suggestion is canceled, Ss are told to report again. In their heart rate study, highs were amnestic and recalled words not targeted for amnesia. Highs weren’t trying to forget, even though they were experiencing things happening cognitively during the waiting period.
Study II. One group of highs engaged in a distraction task, which would prevent their participating in task relevant practice. Ss in the distraction condition recalled fewer words, just as in the standard hypnosis condition. However, their subjective report indicated they had even a stronger feeling that something had happened beyond their volition or control than did Ss in the standard hypnotic condition.
It appears that task relevant thoughts and imagery reported by Highs are not necessary. They are co-suggestion effects. See Hargedon, Bowers, & Woody in similar work, on analgesia. However, during the recall period Highs did not work as hard as the Lows in trying to remember according to both their self-reports and the heart rate measure.

Freyd, Jennifer J. (1994). Betrayal-trauma: Traumatic amnesia as an adaptive response to childhood abuse. Ethics and Behavior, 4.
Betrayal-trauma theory suggests that psychogenic amnesia is an adaptive response to childhood abuse. When a parent or other powerful figure violates a fundamental ethic of human relationships, victims may need to remain unaware of the trauma not to reduce suffering but rather to promote survival. Amnesia enables the child to maintain an attachment with a figure vital to survival, development, and thriving. Analysis of evolutionary pressures, mental modules, social cognitions, and developmental needs suggests that the degree to which the most fundamental human ethics are violated can influence the nature, form, processes, and responses to trauma.

“A logical extension of this research direction, based on a strategy that has been very effective in cognitive neuroscience, would be to look for neuroanatomical underpinnings of the cognitive mechanisms implicated in dissociation. … For instance, the ability to dissociate current experience may depend partly on representational structures that support spontaneous perceptual transformations of incoming events. One possible perceptual transformation that is amenable to scientific investigation, would be the creation of spatial representations in which the mental ‘observer’ is spatially distinct from the real body of that observer. Such a representation would fit patient descriptions of ‘leaving their body’ during a traumatic episode and viewing the scene as if from afar. Additionally one could investigate the role of mental recoding and restructuring during memory ‘recovery’ and psychotherapy” (pp. 19-20)

Scheflin, Alan W. (1994). Forensic hypnosis: Unanswered questions. Australian Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 22, 25-37.

Many courts have mistakenly identified hypnosis as more suggestive than eyewitness testimony or leading questions, and therefore these courts have applied unnecessarily restrictive rulings on hypnosis. The dangers of suggestion in eyewitness and interrogation cases pose reliability problems that are equally as great. In all situations, pre- trial evidentiary hearings on admissibility of ‘suggestive’ testimony is essential. Expert testimony should be available to assist the judge. The forensic rules to date have failed to clarify some hard cases. In resolving these cases, courts are encouraged to adopt a case- by-case analysis rather than a total prohibition on hypnotically refreshed recollection. Courts have assumed conclusions about hypnosis that the laboratory experiments suggest are incorrect – juries are not overly persuaded by hypnosis testimony, there is no inevitable concreting effect and witnesses do not become impervious to cross-examination. Thus, the restrictive per se disqualification rules for hypnotically refreshed recollection are too severe

Woody, Erik Z. (1994, October). Cognitive-processing models of hypnotic dissociation. [Paper] Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, San Francisco.

Spanos contended that social psychology is an appropriate ground for hypnosis, and his work highlights the value of not taking things at face value (e.g. feelings of nonvolition).
I did this research with Ken Bowers. It addresses the question, does non-volition occupy a small role in hypnosis, or are hypnotic responses performed intentionally despite the hypnotized person’s feeling of non-volition.
We did not rely on the research Subject’s verbal report. When one exerts intentional effort to suppress a thought, the thought gets stronger. For example, when people try to comply with instruction not to think about white bears, they think about them repeatedly (Waitner’s research).
Hypnosis suggestions are for amnesia (inability to remember), not intentional forgetting.
STUDY ONE. We used Waitner type instructions vs hypnosis in high and low hypnotizability Ss, to examine the role of intention in response. We used thinking about one’s favorite automobile instead of a white bear as the task stimulus. Subjects were not to think about it for 2 minutes, but to press a button whenever a thought about the automobile surfaced. There was another waking trial with suggestions; then hypnosis and re-testing.
Ss were undergraduates screened on Harvard Scale for hypnotizability and the Waterloo Stanford Group form. High hypnotizables scored 8 or more on both scales, lows scored 4 or less on both.
The variables recorded were total number of button presses, and average length of time per press. Analysis was by a 3 way mixed model ANOVA: high low, induction condition, and suggestion condition (blank mind vs. amnesia)
Mean Number of Button Pushes Over Trials Group Waking Hypnosis
blank amnesia blank amnesia
mind mind High 6.9 2.9 1.8 .6 Low 5.2 4.7 4.3 3.7

Woody, Erik Z. (1993, October). Factors, facets, and fiddle-faddle. [Paper] Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Arlington Heights, IL.

The classic suggestion effect implies involuntary behavior. A theory by Norman & Tim Shallice (published in a book on cognitive neuropsychology by Shallice) explains the classic suggestion effect in terms of underlying control processes.
There are 2 complementary systems: 1. contention scheduling (routine acts that don’t require conscious control, activating schemas through environmental events and other schemas) for well learned habitual tasks. 2. supervisory attentional system – nonroutine actions in centralized processes, accessing unique information, operating only indirectly by modulating lower level control system, biasing their selection of schemas by system #1.
These two systems permit the sense of behavior being automatic or willed. The theory can be used to explain hypnotic nonvolition. For highs, hypnosis may partly disable System #2, dissociating lower levels of control and resulting in genuine changes in behavior because System #1 would be more enabled, triggered directly by co-active schemas and environmental stimuli. This increased dependence on a lower level of control would not rule out a wide range of behavior. It’s mainly novel or very complex behaviors that would diminish, plus exercise of will.
The model also illuminates our understanding of behavioral rigidity and the tendency for thought/action to be triggered by [suggestions?]. Spontaneous voluntary behavior would be diminished. (See for example Orne’s studies of the effect of apparent power outage during an experiment, in which high hypnotizable Ss did not move or leave the room but sat passively, whereas low hypnotizable simulating Ss simply got up and left.)
Also a weaker “supervisor” would lead to disinhibition of inappropriate or peculiar associations or behavior. In labs one sees few such triggers, although Hilgard observed drug flashbacks. The phenomena of hypnosis sequelae appear like a disinhibition of experiences.
Hypnotic analgesia follows this model too, an automatic and controlled processing of perceptual input.
Amnesia that follows hypnosis can be explained by this theory. Shallice has a model of how memory is affected: memory is a higher control system, enabling the handling of non-routine situations. Confronted by a nonroutine memory problem, the supervisory system formulates a model of what [the information] should look like, pulls out memories, and compares the model. If hypnosis interferes with the supervisor function it should interfere with memory (the description and verification phases) leading to [hypnotic amnesia?]. [With hypnosis one would predict]: 1. Poor access to memories requiring description (not overlearned material). Recall should demonstrate good cued memory but poor free recall. [It has been observed that] hypnotic amnesia selectively impairs free recall rather than recognition recall. 2. Hypnotized Ss should show poorer verification (the ability to discriminate irrelevant from correct associations). Many studies have shown this, with impoverished verification (e.g. the “discovery” of elaborate previous lives).
A dissociated control theory of hypnosis is thus possible, emphasizing a loss of control of supervisory system processes. It would implicate changes in frontal lobe processing. The essence of hypnosis, according to this approach, is the bypassing of executive control, and the frontal lobe is viewed as a center of executive control.
There are several ways that hypnosis suggests inhibition of frontal lobe functioning: 1. impoverishment of self initiated behavior 2. other-directedness 3. frontal amnesia (unable to distinguish true memories from irrelevant memories; prone to confabulation, especially when probed with false information) 4. poorer in temporal or sequential organization in memory.
How do we proceed to make this theoretical approach useful? We should do more neuropsychological studies, as Helen Crawford does. They emphasize the inhibition of frontal lobe functions.
Testable hypotheses arise: 1. Hypnotizable Ss should show the same kind of problem solving problems as frontal lobe patients. 2. Memory of hypnotized Ss should be like patients with frontal amnesia.

Barrett, Deidre (1992). Fantasizers and dissociaters: Data on two distinct subgroups of deep trance subjects. Psychological Reports, 71, 1011-1014

The study delineated two subgroups of highly hypnotizable subjects. The first subgroup (fantasizers) entered trance rapidly, scored high on absorption (mean of 34 on the 37-item Absorption Scale), and described hypnosis as much like their rich, vivid, and very realistic waking fantasy life. None of the fantasizers experienced unsuggested amnesia, and 5/19 failed to produce suggested amnesia. Only 2/19 fantasizers described hypnosis as very different from their other experiences. The earliest memories of fantasizers were all identified as occurring before age 3, and before age 2 for 11 of 19. The second subgroup (dissociaters) took time to achieve a deep trance (unlike Wilson and Barber’s fantasy-prone subjects, but they did achieve as deep a trance as fantasizers), experienced hypnosis as different from any prior experiences, and were more likely to exhibit amnesia for both hypnotic experience and waking fantasies. None of the dissociaters described their waking imagery as entirely realistic, and the earliest memories in this group were all over the age of 3 (mean age – 5). Of the 15 dissociaters, 7 scored below the norm on the Absorption Scale (Mean – 26).

Crawford, Helen J.; Kitner-Triolo, Melissa; Clarke, Steven W.; Olesko, Brian (1992). Transient positive and negative experiences accompanying stage hypnosis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 101 (4), 663-667.

Frequency of positive and negative experiences accompanying stage hypnosis was assessed in follow-up interviews with 22 participants of university-sponsored performances. Most subjects described their experience positively (relaxing, interesting, exciting, satisfying, illuminating, and pleasurable), but some described it negatively (confusing, silly, annoying, and frightening). Five subjects (22.7%) reported partial or complete amnesia; all were highly responsive to the stage hypnosis suggestions. One subject was completely unable to breach amnesia and felt annoyed and frightened. Five subjects (22.7%) believed the hypnotist had control over their behavior. Participants (n=15) tested subsequently on the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C (Weitzenhoffer & Hilgard, 1962) were mostly moderately to highly hypnotizable (M = 7.07), and the scores correlated significantly (r = .68) with the percentage of passed stage hypnosis suggestions.

Echterling and Emmerling (1987, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis) conducted a follow-up of 18 people who participated in stage hypnosis at a university, within a month after the experience. Referring back to the hypnosis itself, 39% reported positive experiences, 39% reported both positive and negative experiences, and 22% (four people) reported ‘strongly negative’ experiences. The present study contacted subjects immediately after the stage hypnosis experience, either in person or by telephone. They completed both objective questions and open-ended questions referring to three time periods: after the hypnotic induction, during the hypnotic suggestions, and after the stage hypnosis had been terminated. Subjects were invited to come to the laboratory to be tested for hypnotizability, and 15 of the 22 did return for testing.
Of the 22 Ss, 4 had previously participated in stage hypnosis, one in laboratory hypnosis, and one had been hypnotized by her father. Of the 15 tested with the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C: 7 were high hypnotizables (scoring 9-12), 7 were medium hypnotizables (scoring 4-8), and one was a low hypnotizable (scoring 0-3). Several people reported that they ‘went along with’ the hypnotist’s suggestions, role playing rather than actually experiencing the suggestions.
“Most of the subjects found the experience positive: 86.4%, relaxing; 86.4%, interesting; 77.3%, exciting; 59.0%, satisfying; 54.6% illuminating; and 54.6%, pleasurable. Negative experiences were also reported: 36.4%, confusing; 36.4%, silly; 9.1%, annoying; and 9.1%, frightening. Only 1 subject reported the stage hypnosis experience as entirely negative.
“The stage hypnotists told the participants about the suggestions at the end of the stage hypnosis performance and supposedly lifted amnesia. Despite this, some participants continued to experience partial or full amnesia for the suggestions. …
“One participant reported complete amnesia even after the interview and was distraught, permitting only a telephone interview and not accepting an offer to be hypnotized at a later time to help recall what had been forgotten. …
“… The interviewer told her what had been observed and attempted to breach the amnesia. The subject continued to report complete amnesia.
“Two other participants continued not to remember many of the suggestions but showed no major concern. Waking suggestions to breach amnesia were given, but no further information was obtained.
“Five participants reported feeling that the hypnotist had complete control over their behavior and that they could not resist the hypnotist’s suggestions” (p. 664).
In their Discussion, the authors note that in general, when negative experiences occur, they tend to be mild and transient. None of the subjects in this investigation reported some of the negative sequelae reported in earlier literature (headaches, nausea, drowsiness). The few subjects who had strong cognitive distortions following hypnosis were highly hypnotizable, which also was observed in an earlier study published by the first author and her colleagues (Crawford, Hilgard, & Macdonald, 1982, International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis).
Spontaneous post hypnotic amnesia is one example of cognitive distortion. The authors remarked on the rather high incidence of spontaneous amnesia for some specific suggestions (22.7%) , which was discovered when friends of the subjects described to them what they had done on stage. In an experimental study by Hilgard and Cooper (1965), only 7% of student subjects had spontaneous amnesia (though 35% had amnesia following suggestions for posthypnotic amnesia). Furthermore, in the Hilgard and Cooper study, hypnotizability correlated with suggested amnesia but not with spontaneous amnesia. Cooper (1972) reviewed the literature on posthypnotic amnesia and observed that spontaneous occurrence is less frequent than suggested amnesia.
Explanations of spontaneous amnesia include ideas that high hypnotizables who experience it are significantly different from those who do not (Chertok, 1981; Weitzenhoffer, 1989); or that it is due to expectancy (Kirsch, 1985); or that it is found in people with a tendency for dissociation in and out of hypnosis, or people who may be prone to repression or dissociative and post-traumatic stress disorders. For reviews of these issues, see Kihlstrom, 1987; Kihlstrom & Hoyt, 1990; Frankel, 1990; Nemiah, 1985; Spiegel, 1990; Spiegel & Cardena, 1991).
The authors note that stage hypnotists, while they may otherwise be ethical, do not provide information to subjects to correct misperceptions about hypnosis. For example, in this study 22.7% of the subjects believed, after the stage hypnosis experience, that the hypnotist had control over their behavior and they couldn’t resist the suggestions. “Appropriate guidelines for stage hypnosis (see also Crawford et al., 1982) include screening out participants who are in therapy or counseling, correcting misperceptions about hypnosis among the participants before the hypnosis begins, screening subjects prior to hypnosis, avoiding embarrassing or upsetting suggestions, providing dehypnosis instructions to those who do not remain in hypnosis (or are asked to leave the performance), terminating fully the hypnotic experience, removing all amnesia suggestions and reviewing the events at the end of hypnotic experience, and remaining available afterward for further questions” (p. 666).

Faller, Kathleen Couborn (1992, Summer). Can therapy induce false allegations of sexual abuse?. The Advisor (Published by American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children), 5 (3), 3-6.

“Concern about the impact of therapy on children’s accounts of sexual abuse should be understood in the context of two phenomena: (1) the adult need to deny that children are sexually abused, and (2) adult identification with the alleged abuser. These phenomena operate at both individual and societal levels” (p. 3).
“Research related to impact of stressful situations on children’s ability to recall provides mixed results, some studies finding children are less accurate if the event is traumatic (Peters, 1991) and others finding they are not (Goodman, Reed, & Hepps, 1985).
“Research reveals that it is rare for children to falsely allege that they have been touched in their private parts. In one study, a substantial proportion of children who experienced genital and anal touch during a physical examination by a doctor did not volunteer this information when asked general questions about the examination. The majority of children in the study revealed genital and anal touch only when they were asked specific questions like, “Did the doctor touch you there?” (Saywitz, Goodman, Nicholas, & Moan, 1991)” (pp. 3-4).
“Clarke-Stewart and her colleagues (1989) have demonstrated that children’s interpretation of ambiguous events can be manipulated and altered by an authority figure who insists upon a particular interpretation (see also Lindberg, 1991)” (p.4).
“In sum, the research suggests that older children are likely to provide more complete unassisted disclosure than younger children. Younger children may need more memory cues in the form of specific questions than older children. Therapists are much more likely to find false negatives than false positives. Finally, therapists should be aware of the possibility the child may identify the wrong person. … Generally, however, the research indicates that concern about the contaminating effects of therapy on children’s recollections of sexual abuse is exaggerated” (pp. 4-5).
“Research indicates that the proportion of fabricated reports may be higher in the divorce scenario than in other contexts (Faller, 1990; Jones & Seig, 1988). Studies suggest most false reports are made by adults, not children (Jones & McGraw, 1987; Jones & Seig, 1988)” (p. 5).
“Clinical research (Sorenson & Snow, 1991) and experience (Faller, 1988) indicate that for most children, revealing sexual abuse is a process which occurs over time. A typical pattern is one in which children begin with the least overwhelming experience and gradually disclose more and more as their accounts are accepted and believed” (p. 5).
“[In conclusion]… therapists should be aware of the findings from research on children’s memory and suggestibility. This research indicates that there are vulnerabilities which should be taken into account during therapy” (p. 6).

Levitan, Alexander A. (1992). The use of hypnosis with cancer patients. Psychiatric Medicine, 10, 119-131

Hypnosis has proven to be extremely valuable in the treatment of cancer patients. Specific applications include: establishing rapport between the patient and members of the medical health team; control of pain with self-regulation of pain perception through the use of glove anesthesia, time distortion, amnesia, transference of pain to a different body part, or dissociation of the painful part form the rest of the body; controlling symptoms, such as, nausea, anticipatory emesis, learned food aversions, etc.; psychotherapy for anxiety, depression, guilt, anger, hostility, frustration, isolation, and a diminished sense of self-esteem; visualization for health improvement; and, dealing with death anxiety and other related issues. Hypnosis has unique advantages for patients including improvement of self-esteem, involvement in self-care, return of locus of control, lack of unpleasant side effects, and continued efficacy despite continued use.

Murrey, Gregory J.; Cross, Herb J.; Whipple, Jim (1992). Hypnotically created pseudomemories: Further investigation into the ‘memory distortion or response bias’ question. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 101 (1), 75-77.

In order to study whether pseudomemories represent actual memory distortions or are a result of response bias, 60 highly hypnotizable subjects and subjects from the general population were divided into 4 experimental groups and were tested for pseudomemory manifestation after receiving a false suggestion. Of the 4 groups of subjects, 3 were offered a monetary reward as a motivation to distinguish false suggestion from the actual occurrence. Pseudomemory manifestation was found to be significantly higher among subjects not offered a reward than among subjects who were offered such a reward. The implications of these findings are discussed

NOTES: The article contains a review of the literature through 1989. The study tested the hypothesis that when it is important to distinguish fantasy from reality in a hypnosis experiment, subjects can do so–a position presented by Spanos and McLean (1986). They used a verifiable event to test for pseudomemory production, as in research published by McCann and Sheehan (1988). Subjects were 30 high hypnotizable and 30 unselected students.
Subjects were shown a videotape of a mock robbery scene. The next week, Groups A, B, and C heard audiotapes “to enhance memory,” but in addition to motivating statements about “trying to remember” certain details, the tapes included misleading information (e.g. “Remember the color of the hat the robber was wearing” when in fact there was no hat on the robber). Subjects in these groups were ‘influenced.’
“Both highly hypnotizable subject groups (Groups A and B) listened to the audiotape after being administered a 10-min hypnotic induction procedure (modified from that of Barber, 1969). Subject Group C listened to the audiotape without hypnosis. The control group, Group D, did not listen to the audiotape and was, therefore, classified as ‘uninfluenced.'”
A week later subjects responded to multiple-choice and yes-no or true-false questions about the robbery scene. The yes-no question about whether the robber was wearing a hat served as the dependent variable, a measure of pseudomemory. “To motivate subjects to report the truth rather than to follow any perceived expectations of the experimental of social context, we offered subjects in Groups B, C, and D a monetary reward if they achieved the most correct answers on the quiz (according to the videotape). The reward was offered just before administration of the quiz to ensure that no collusion between the subjects could occur. Group A was not offered any such reward” (p. 76).
“The number of subjects in Group A (hypnotized, influenced, no reward) who reported the false information at posttest (12) was significantly greater then that of Group B (hypnotized, influenced, offered reward…. However, the difference in incidence of pseudomemory between Group B and the control group, Group D (not hypnotized, uninfluenced, offered reward), was nonsignificant” (p. 76).
Table 1 Incidence of Pseudomemory Per Group ——————————————————————————————- False suggestion Group A Group B Group C Group D
result (n=15) (n=15) (n=15) (n=15) ——————————————————————————————-
Accepted 12 6 7 3
Rejected 3 9 8 12 —————————————————————————————— Note. Group A = hypnotized, influenced, not offered reward.
Group B = hypnotized, influenced, offered reward.
Group C = not hypnotized, influenced, offered reward.
Group D = not hypnotized, not influenced, offered reward.
In the Discussion, the authors wrote, “Because the only variable among these groups was the reward, a reasonable conclusion from the findings is that pseudomemories manifested by the subjects were (for the most part) not actual memory distortions. Presumably, the reward provided the subjects in Group B an incentive to ‘report the truth’ and a disincentive to give biased reports on the basis of the perceived expectations of the social or experimental context. Thus these data suggest that pseudomemory effects or the occurrence of the pseudomemory phenomenon among highly hypnotizable subjects can be minimized by providing a motivation to subjects to give unbiased reports.
“A major implication of these findings is that researchers should control for response bias resulting from perceived social demands or from leading test designs when they conduct pseudomemory research. Of further concern is the fact that a number of researchers contend that hypnotic interrogation of eye-witnesses can greatly facilitate the creation of pseudomemories (Levitt, 1990; Loftus, 1979; Orne, 1979; Putnam, 1979), and therefore hypnosis either should not be allowed in the courtroom or should be strictly controlled. Yet in light of our findings, response bias may be a confound in pseudomemory research, and thus researchers need to be cautious when making inferences to specific situations from data obtained in an experimental setting.
“Despite the existence of a confound of (unmeasured) differences in hypnotizability between the two groups, there was no significant difference between Group B and the control group (Group D). This suggests that if response bias is controlled for, there may not be significant differences in manifestation of pseudomemories between highly hypnotizable subjects and subjects representative of the general population. However, further research is needed in order to address this question” (pp. 76-77).
Perry, Nancy W. (1992, Summer). How children remember and why they forget. The Advisor (Published by American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children), 5 (3), 1-2; 13-16.
: “‘My memory is the thing I forget with.’ (a child’s definition, cited in Grossberg, 1985, p. 60)” (p. 1).
“Unlike the simpler forms of memory retrieval, free recall is strongly age-related… the recall skills of preschool children develop gradually” (p. 2). “…in some cases, younger children can provide _more_ accurate information than adults (Lindberg, 1991). For example, if an event is particularly salient (as sometimes happens in cases of trauma), recall may be exceptionally good (Brainerd & Ornstein, 1991; Lindberg, 1991)” (p. 13).
“Children have limited ability to use memory strategies. For this reason, children often know more than they can freely recall” (p. 13).
“The use of _rehearsal_ as a memory strategy is almost automatic for adults. … Ten-year-olds also commonly use rehearsal to aid memory. Young children, however, have not mastered rehearsal (Harris & Liebert, 1991).
“Another memory strategy is imagery, which involves (1) mentally picturing a person, place, or object, or (2) visually associating two or more things that are to be remembered. Children develop imagery much later than other memory strategies. Indeed, some people never learn this memory strategy (Flavell, 1977)” (p. 13).
“… stress alone may not impair memory processes. Indeed, stress can lead to arousal, heightened attention, and improved encoding (Deffenbacher, 1983). However, stress that results from intimidation may lead to either impairment in encoding or problems in recalling or reporting memories” (p. 14).
“Because the effect of suggestion on material that has been well encoded tends not to be significantly different across age groups (Cohen & Harnick, 1980), it may be that younger children’s inferior performance on suggestive tasks results from inferior encoding” (p. 15).

Bowers, Kenneth S. (1991). Dissociation in hypnosis and multiple personality disorder. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 39, 155-176.

The first part of this paper examines the concept of dissociation in the context of hypnosis. In particular, the neodissociative and social psychological models of hypnosis are compared. It is argued that the social psychological model, in describing hypnotic enactments as purposeful, does not adequately distinguish between behavior that is enacted “on purpose” and behavior that serves or achieves a purpose. 2 recent dissertations (Hughes, 1988; Miller, 1986) from the University of Waterloo are summarized, each of which supports the neodissociative view that hypnotic behavior can be purposeful (in the sense that the suggested state of affairs is achieved) and nonvolitional (in the sense that the suggested state of affairs is not achieved by high level executive initiative and ongoing effort). The second part of the paper employs a neodissociative view of hypnosis to help understand the current epidemic of multiple personality disorder (MPD). In particular, it is argued that many symptoms of MPD are implicitly suggested effects–particularly prone to occur in persons who have a lifelong tendency to use dissociative type defenses. The present author believes that this account is easier to sustain conceptually and empirically than the current view, which states that a secondary (tertiary, etc.) personality accounts for the striking phenomenological discontinuities experienced by MPD patients.

As an example of the fact that behavior that serves a purpose is not always performed on purpose, the author cites not falling out of bed while sleeping, and waking up in response to signals from the bladder to go to the bathroom. Lower levels of control can be dissociated from executive initiative and/or monitoring. “Since the experience of volition is closely tied to executive initiative and effort, suggested behaviors that bypass such initiative and effort are typically experienced as nonvolitional” (p. 157). Dissociated control occurs under waking conditions also, as when one dials a very familiar phone number rather than the one that they intended to dial. In this case, the behavior that is enacted is not what one consciously intended.
Miller’s dissertation, also published as Miller & Bowers, 1986, is described on p. 158 ff. Without hypnosis, cold pressor pain (cold water immersion) reduced accuracy of performance on a multiple choice vocabulary test 35%. Both hypnotic analgesia and cognitive pain management strategies were equally effective in reducing pain of cold pressor test (and both interventions were more effective for high than for low hypnotizable Ss). However, the cognitive strategy group showed an additional drop of 30% in vocabulary performance from pre- to posttreatment cold water immersion (despite successfully reducing their pain). In the hypnosis condition, lows showed only a slight additional decrease (8%) while highs showed a slight (10%) _increase_ in their vocabulary performance from pre- to posttreatment immersion.
Thus, the effect of hypnosis in pain control “does not depend on S’s utilization of high-level cognitive strategies. Rather, hypnotic analgesia seems to involve the dissociated control of pain–that is, control which is relatively free of the need for high- level, executive initiative and effort. … Because hypnotic analgesia minimizes the degree of executive initiative and ongoing effort required to reduce pain, however, it seems inappropriate to view such reductions as something achieved on purpose” (p. 161).
Hughes’ dissertation is described on p. 162 and ff. Instead of performance decrement on a cognitive task like vocabulary testing, she used increased heart rate as an index of cognitive effort. If heart rate increases when Ss successfully use hypnotic imagery, that would confirm the social psychological view that “suggested effects are achieved by this kind of ongoing allocation of high-level cognitive force or work” (p. 162).
Highs and lows were hypnotized and administered three trials of neutral and three trials of fearful imagery in counterbalanced order. Each imagery trial lasted 1 minute, after which Ss rated vividness of imagery, effort required, and amount of fear experienced.
Average imagery vividness was higher in highs than lows, for both neutral and fear imagery. For lows the correlation between heart rate increases and ratings of cognitive effort were .54 (neutral imagery) and .49 (fear imagery). For highs, the correlations were -.05 (neutral) and -.52 (fear). Thus, “for low but not high hypnotizable Ss, we find the predicted positive relationship between a cardiac indicator of cognitive effort and the ratings of cognitive effort involved in producing neutral imagery” (p. 163).
“First, for low hypnotizables engaged in fear imagery, ratings of effort are correlated .66 with ratings of fear. In other words, the more low hypnotizable Ss work to produce a fearful image, the more frightening the image is. Second, for high hypnotizables engaged in fear imagery, the correlation between ratings of fear and effort is minus 68– indicating that the less effort highs report in producing fear imagery, the more frightened they become. Finally, for high hypnotizables, the correlation between ratings of fear and heart rate increase is .59, indicating that the more fear high hypnotizable Ss experience when engaged in fear imagery, the more their heart rate increases (the comparable figure for low hypnotizables is .16)” (p. 164).
The authors discuss why the pattern of correlations is different for people high and low in measured hypnotizability, and summarize the implications of both Miller’s and Hughes’ research. Both investigations indicate that, at least for high hypnotizable people, less initiative and effort are required to effect a response to hypnotic suggestion than one would expect. The show how behavior can be both purposeful and nonvolitional (in the sense of not exhibiting conscious intention and strategic efforts). By noting that the sense of nonvolition that accompanies a response to suggestion is an actual alteration in executive control, they provide a model for dissociative psychopathology such as MPD. For although executive control is dissociated, these experiments do not suggest that there is a second executive system or ‘personality’ that is responsible for the behavior.
Patients diagnosed with MPD have very high measured hypnotizability (Bliss, 1984). In fact, they seem to engage in self hypnosis, withdrawing into a trance or a dissociated state (Bliss, 1984). The authors quote Wilson & Barber (1983) as indicating that highly hypnotized, fantasy-prone normal individuals may become so absorbed in a character being imagined that they lose awareness of their own identity.
The authors offer a neodissociative account of MPD: “People prone to MPD are very high in hypnotic ability and are, therefore, vulnerable to the suggestive impact of ideas, imaginings, and fantasies; what is more, they are high in hypnotic ability because they have learned to use dissociative defenses as a way of dealing with inescapable threat– such as physical and sexual abuse (Kluft, 1987). … Fantasied alternatives to reality (including a fantasied alter ego … ) can become increasingly complex and differentiated. Gradually, these fantasied alternatives begin to activate subsystems of control more or less directly–that is, with minimal involvement of executive level initiative and control. Such ‘dissociated control’ of behavior does not necessarily eliminate consciousness of it, though one’s actions are apt to be experienced as increasingly ego-alien. If and when the activating fantasies and resulting behaviors become sufficiently threatening, however, they can also be repressed into an unconscious (i.e., amnesic) status, thus further separating high-level executive and monitoring functions from the dissociated, ego-alien aspects of oneself. The fully realized result of this process is an individual who is subject to profound discontinuities in his or her sense of self. … The experience of behaving in an outwardly uncharacteristic manner requires only that subsystems of control are more or less directly activated by ideas and fantasies in a manner that effectively bypasses executive initiative and control” (pp. 168-169).
923, Bowers, 1992 NOTES: Tart allegedly taught ESP skills based on reinforcement, using a machine that projected display and gave feedback immediately, so the subjects could learn to anticipate the picture better. But the picture presented next was time-linked to the S’s response (so S could learn it).
1987 Behavioral and Brain Sciences review, with 2 target articles, makes one doubt strength of findings. ESP research doesn’t distinguish between description of an observation and it’s proposed cause.
MPD shares with ESP a tendency to predispose toward a certain explanation. Feeling like one has a separate personality leads to finding evidence for one. But an MPD account is wrong-headed because the diagnosis misconstrues a notion of personality, which is a developmental concept (a pattern of thought, feeling, and behavior). Mischel’s (1968) account of human functioning competed with trait theory, so “personality” concept became extraneous.
Defining personality in terms of one’s experiences or beliefs about oneself has lead to further problems, encouraged by the descriptive approach of DSM III (which depends on patient reports). Drew Weston distinguished between the self and self representation. One can’t argue that a computer programmed to describe itself is the same as it’s descriptions.
Personality can’t be reduced to person’s beliefs about themselves. A secondary personality cannot be reduced to bizarre experiences a person believes are due to a second personality. Clinicians do not accept as valid the beliefs of a paranoid schizophrenic; or of an anxious neurotic. With multiple personality disorder (MPD) the patient becomes the expert and the clinician the student.
William Smith’s 1986 SCEH paper: case study of patient who was convinced her problems were due to unresolved problems from a previous life. He didn’t challenge her system but still worked with her successfully, communicating respect without validating her belief.
Advocates of MPDs think the observation that it is associated with high hypnotizability indicates great dissociation; critics think the association indicates great suggestibility. There is a historical parallel: Mesmer probably didn’t suggest seizure-like episodes, but implicit suggestions for seizures were probably partially responsible. Mistaken attribution permitted Mesmer to see this as validation of his theory of animal magnetism.
Clinicians are not the only ones to “suggest” MPD syndrome. High profile cases are in the media. We should also remember Orne’s 1959 research showing that students who received false information a week earlier in lecture on hypnosis showed the behavior when they were hypnotized.
Janet’s disaggregation (dissociation) theory said hysterics and hypnotized people responded to ideas dissociated from the main stream of consciousness. So his contemporaries thought that spontaneous amnesia was a defining feature of hypnosis; yet it is not thought to be so in our era. The idea may have circulated in Janet’s time, by popular culture.
MPDs are always highly suggestible so can respond to circulating accounts in the media, and every account that reaches the media can influence these people.
We could abandon the diagnosis of MPD in favor of Spiegel’s “disorder of self integration.” It is less provocative, does not imply any clinical benefit in the benefits of seeking out more personalities. This might reduce the incidence of this disorder, or likelihood that a suggestible person would develop the disorder iatrogenically.

Davidson, T. M.; Bowers, K. S. (1991). Selective hypnotic amnesia: Is it a successful attempt to forget or an unsuccessful attempt to remember. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100, 133-143

Subjects in two experiments learned a 16-item, 4-category word list and were then administered hypnotic suggestions to be amnesic for all the words in one of the categories. Even when selective amnesia was completely successful, subjects in both experiments revealed a high level of recall for words not targeted for amnesia; moreover, these words were recalled in a highly organized, category-by-category fashion. Evidently, attention to relevant retrieval (i.e., organizational) cues does not oblige recall of words targeted for amnesia. Forgetting in the presence of such powerful mnemonic cues seems to characterize hypnotic amnesia and some notes.