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4. Can anyone be hypnotized, or only certain people?


4.1. Hypnotizability

Using standardized induction scripts and classical induction techniques, some people are found to be markedly more hypnotizable than others. Aside from a requisite minimum intelligence for language and capacity to follow instructions, there are some other stable characteristics that seem to relate to hypnotizability, though they do not appear to relate directly to anything that we ordinarily consider personality traits (such as the stereotype of gullibility and so on).

An exceptionally skillful operator can individualize their approach and thereby reduce the number of 'un-hypnotizable' or 'resistant' subjects quite a bit, but there are still some people that respond much more easily than others to hypnotic suggestion, especially with regard to 'deep trance' phenomena. This responsiveness appears to show high test-retest reliability, even after many years.

There are 12 standard tests in the SHSS (Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale) which measure how well a subject conforms to the behavior of a classically hypnotized person. By these scales, about 5% of people are classically un-hypnotizable, most people show moderate scores, and about 10%are hypnotizable to extreme depths and show the classical deep trance phenomena such as somnambulism, visual and auditory hallucinations, and ability to remain deeply in hypnosis with eyes open.

As mentioned, hypnotizability does not appear to show any obvious correlation with any of the usual personality traits or characteristics. Not only is gullibility not directly correlated, but gender, extraversion/introversion, and neurotic tendencies have also been shown not to correlate well with hypnotizability.

There is some tentative evidence that physiological response to suggestion is influenced by certain forms of sensory deprivation or isolation. For example, see Barabasz and Gregson, "Antarctic wintering--over, suggestion and transient olfactory stimulation: EEG evoked potential and electro-dermal responses." in Biological Psychology. 9(4):285-95, 1979 Dec.

EEG evoked potential and electro-dermal responses to real and suggested olfactory stimulation were recorded on a team of nine men who wintered -overat Scott Base, Antarctica. Multi-variate analysis of variance findings indicated some consistent trends despite adverse conditions and marked inter-individual differences. Consistent with studies of secondary afferentation olfaction-related EEGs were evidenced in the occipital area (O1and O2) as well as the temporal area (T3 and T4). Skin conductance (SC) showed significant responses for real and suggested odorants pre and post wintering-over. Suppression of EEG amplitudes for real and suggested stimuli was evidenced prior to wintering-over. Following wintering-over experience suppression of EEG amplitudes for real stimuli showed a decrease while suppression increased for suggested stimuli. The implications of the suggestion findings are discussed in possible explanation of the apparent conflict between different sources of information about human responses to isolation in the Antarctic environment.



 
 

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