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


4.3. Can hypnotizability be modified?

In spite of the fact that hypnotizability frequently remains constant overtime, the capacity to be hypnotized can be changed to some degree with specific training of various kinds. The most general requisite capacity, as we saw in the description of the FPP above is the ability to focus concentration internally and become extremely absorbed in imaginative activity.

One general review of this work can be found in Michael Diamond's "Modification of hypnotizability: A review," in Psychological Bulletin, 81: 180-198. Diamond examines several experiments where music, silence, psychedelic drugs, biofeedback, sensory deprivation, hypnotic behavioral training, operant conditioning, and relaxation training were used to attempt to modify response to hypnosis.

Another review can be found in Wicramasekera's 1976, Biofeedback, Behavior Therapy, and Hypnosis, which proposes that imagination training, suggestions for adventurousness, use of psychedelic drugs, sensory deprivation, and biofeedback training all can have a lasting effect on hypnotizability.

A different approach is that taken by Gorassini and Spanos, 1986, "A sociocognitive skills approach to the successful modification of hypnotic susceptibility," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50:1004-1012. They propose the CSTP, a program for enhancing certain responses under hypnosis by training individual's in the individual behaviors used to measure hypnotic susceptibility. There are likely various different ways in which suggestion-related responses can be produced, and we already have seen that objective measures for distinguishing hypnosis from simulation have not yet been developed, if indeed they are possible or practical at all. Subjective experiential response is apparently not modified with the CSTP, at least not to the degree that 'imagination training' helps modify subjective response to hypnosis. Spanos suggests that further research in this area should make more clear distinctions between compliance, reinterpreting and reclassifying experience, and changes in sensory experience in order to further delineate what is going on in hypnotic responses.



 
 

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