Hypnosis and risks to human subjects

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Abstract

Concerns for the safety of human Ss have led to the creation of institutional review boards that evaluate experimental procedures according to the risks involved. Because establishing criteria for evaluating the risk of specific psychological procedures is difficult, the judgments of reviewing committees may be quite variable and unpredictable. The US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare has labeled hypnosis as being at risk. This article attempts to clarify the degree of risk associated with the use of standard hypnotic susceptibility scales. The aftereffects of the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C, were compared with the same aftereffects of (a) participating in a brief verbal learning experiment, (b) taking a college exam, (c) attending a college class, and (d) college life in general for a sample of 209 undergraduates. The results indicate that hypnosis was no more bothersome than the comparison activities. The authors discuss the limitations of the study with regard to the use of hypnosis, the limitations of the way negative sequelae were measured, the use of such an empirical approach to clarify the actual risks in specific experimental procedures, and the problem involved in taking too conservative or too liberal a position on the protection of human Ss. (18 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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