The effects of hypnotic susceptibility, suggestions for analgesia, and the utilization of cognitive strategies on the reduction of pain

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Abstract

96 undergraduates were stratified in terms of hypnotic susceptibility (high, medium, and low) on the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, Form A. Ss next had 1 arm immersed in ice water for a 60-sec pretest and, afterward, were assigned to 1 of 4 treatments: (a) hypnosis plus analgesia suggestion, (b) hypnosis alone, (c) suggestion alone, or (d) no hypnosis–no suggestion. Ss were retested in ice water and then interviewed about their experiences during the retest. High susceptibles reported the use of more cognitive strategies during the retest and showed greater pretest-to retest pain magnitude reductions than did low susceptibles. Similar effects occurred for Ss given, as opposed to not given, a suggestion. The hypnosis variable, however, failed to affect either strategy use or pain magnitude. Strategy use facilitated pain reduction only for Ss who did not worry about and did not exaggerate the unpleasantness of the situation (i.e., noncatastrophizers). The few Ss who showed dramatic pretest-to-retest reductions in pain magnitude (50% reduction or more) were all high-susceptible noncatastrophizers who used one or more cognitive strategies. (37 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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