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is there any thing like hipnotisum and is it true that people say every thing with the help of hipnotism?

-- maria (mariya@pakistans.com), August 26, 2003


Interesting question. You might want to look at the work of Martin Orne, who spent a career arguing that hypnotism is not some special state of consiousness, but rather is influenced by a variety of "external" factors (like what people *expect* hypnotism to be). Generally, people do not seem to speak the truth (esp. on secret topics) when hypnotised than when not, and there is a greater tendency to confabuluate in accordance with the wishes of the hypnotiser (making it a particularly *bad* way to interrogate supposed witnesses). Neither can you get people to do *important* things they would not otherwise do (clucking like a chicken on stage is one thing... killing someone, like in endless spy thrillers, is quite another). Be careful. There is a lot of agenda-driven material on the web by people who misuse Orne's work for their own political and religious purposes. Seek out the original journal articles.

-- Christopher Green (christo@yorku.ca), August 26, 2003.

There is an excellent chapter on hypnotism in Henri Ellenberger's The Discovery of the Unconscious. There is also excellent material E. G. Boring's History of Experimental Psychology. The question isn't so much whether there is such a thing as hypnotism--there obviously is--but what sort of thing it is. Boring covers the early debates very nicely, and Ellenberger gives a wonderful picture of Mesmer and the other early practicing hypnotists. An entirely different perspective is provided in the work of Milton Erickson, the famous therapist. There have been various books about Erickson and the Ericksonian therapy tradition, which is a strong contemporary therapeutic approach. Hypnosis by Erickson was a very subtle process, involving none of the "gadgetry" of Mesmer and his colleagues. There is also nice material in Leslie Weatherhead's book on religion and healing, that includes the history of the self- hypnotic mantra "every day in every way I'm getting better and better."

-- Hendrika Vande Kemp (hendrika@earthlink.net), August 30, 2003.

Great response, Christo!

-- visualize me (visualizeme@webtv.net), August 30, 2003.

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