Can anyone be hypnotized, or only certain people?
4.3. Can hypnotizability
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.