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Summary: Hypnosis

During hypnosis, a person is hyper­suggestible or easily influenced. The hypnotized person carries out instructions given by another person.

During the induction of hypnosis, a person is asked to concentrate on small changes in the body or the environment. The hypnotist watches for subtle behaviors that indicate acceptance of suggestions (such as swaying at the suggestion that a strong wind is blowing).

The hypnotist makes new, slightly more demanding suggestions. Step by step, a good hypnotic subject is led into deep levels of imagined involvement.

Under deep hypnosis suggestions can be issued for later execution (post-hypnotic suggestion). A person can also be told to forget the events of hypnosis.

Hypnosis can enhance memory for long-forgotten events. However, hypnosis greatly increases the likelihood of confabulation or false memory. Hypnotized people sometimes follow leading questions, generating pseudo-memories, then later believe the memories are true.

Experiments show that hypnosis makes people more likely to remember things. It also increases their chances of false-­positive errors in which they claim to remember something that never happened.


Write to Dr. Dewey at psywww@gmail.com.


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