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 A role theory of hypnosis
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32 Posts

Posted - 08/19/2008 :  7:48:10 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Several researchers in the field have accepted a sceptical social role theory of hypnosis which essentially purports that hypnosis is based on nothing more than a clients expectancy as to the role which they are supposed to play. Has anyone on the board ever been in a debate about what hypnosis actually is, in such a way that they would have a response to a social role theory of hypnosis?


724 Posts

Posted - 08/20/2008 :  12:50:50 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

They are saying the results of hypnosis are placebo or that the state of hypnosis is?

I'd be interested in that as well. I've been in debates with different terminology. That hypnosis only works because the client wants it to.. .Which is pretty much the definition of a placebo. One part of the response is - If a placebo helps, that's still a good thing. Another part of my response is - Studies show a placebo will work about 10% of the time. Proper hypnosis will work around 70% of the time.

If they are seeing poor results, they may want to review the input - GIGO (garbage in, garbage out)


Patrick Glancy, CI, BCH
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Ron Surface

29 Posts

Posted - 08/20/2008 :  9:25:53 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I disagree with the role playing theory of hypnosis. As critics of the theory have pointed out, if someone was simply role playing (acting the way they think a hypnotized person would act), it would be very difficult to achieve hypnotic anesthesia.

On the other hand, our thoughts do influence our reality. Just like the kid who pretends to be sick so he can stay home from school, and then actually becomes sick. Would we define sickness as role playing? No. Role playing can be one way to make yourself sick, but people who are sick are not just role playing.

I think hypnosis is the same way. It's much more than just role playing. But if we break the hypnotic process into stages or steps, and role play each step (imagining/role playing we are relaxed will help us become relaxed), it can be one way to help achieve hypnosis. It can be a means to the end, not the end itself.

Hope this helps,


Ron Surface
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32 Posts

Posted - 08/21/2008 :  12:07:30 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I guess another part of the argument is that in some studies induction doesn't necessarily add to one's ability to reduce pain through suggestion (in a research setting) in which case, how do you differentiate between hypnosis and just someone just pretending to feel less pain. However, I think some of the more dramatic uses of hypnosis (in surgery, dentistry and childbirth) preclude the conclusion of playacting. The necessity of induction still may be in question, but I'm not sure about any recent research on that. Most of what I know comes from Hilgard and Hilgard in the 80s.
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Ron Surface

29 Posts

Posted - 08/22/2008 :  12:26:54 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
You bring up a good point about some studies where induction doesn't add to a person's ability to reduce pain. I think part of the problem with these studies are the people doing them. My advice is to study the Elman book. Especially the first 150 pages or so. In my opinion it's the best teaching on how to achieve hypnosis available.

Elman stated that anyone could achieve hypnosis and the only thing that could prevent it is fear. On the other hand, we have the Stanford and Harvard hypnotizability scales which say that only 10-15 percent of the population are highly hypnotizable or able to experience deep hypnosis. Why the large discrepancy?

Mainstream psychiatrists have some funny views about hypnosis. Dr. Nash from the University of TN has stated that hypnotizability is a fixed trait. He's also stated that the skill of the hypnotist is largely irrelevant. Either the person is going to enter hypnosis or they're not. Dr. Spiegel from Stanford, in his book Trance and Treatment, states that deepening techniques have little value. Those who use them are mostly misguided. He's developed the Hypnotic Induction Profile, which mirrors the results of the Stanford and Harvard scales - only 10-15 percent of the population have the ability to experience deep hypnosis.

These people refuse to use the very techniques that make deeper levels of hypnosis possible for the average person, and then conclude the reason 85-90 percent of their clients don't experience deep levels of hypnosis is because they simply lack the ability.
Researchers are also looking for the hypnosis gene, so they can screen people to determine who will be responsive to hypnosis and who won't. They could save themselves the trouble and pick up a copy of Dave's book. Of course, they discount Dave's teaching because he was a 'layman'. How could he possibly know more about hypnosis than they do?


Ron Surface
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United Kingdom
445 Posts

Posted - 08/22/2008 :  06:50:50 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It is gratifying to see your recommendation of Dave Elman's book,"Hypnotherapy". After Elmans' death the book was republished by two different publishers but failed in the marketplace because the publishers did not understand that the book was designed for a small "niche market". Since then the market has exploded world wide and as exclusive world distributor for Elman's book and recordings, I believe it is now the largest selling book of it's kind. Dave Elman's "Hypnotherapy" is available from--westwoodpublishingco.com
Although, internet marketers are asking $100. and more. The retail price for a new hardbound copy is $39.95.

Gil Boyne
[Gil Passed Away May 5, 2010]
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