Hypnosis and psychopathology: Retrospect and prospect

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Abstract

As an editorial introduction to a special issue on hypnosis and psychopathology, this article discusses several links between the 2 fields. Historically, observation of the parallels between hypnosis and hysteria played an important role in the discovery of unconscious mental processes, the development of psychogenic theories of psychopathology and the rise of psychotherapy. It is proposed that hypnotic anesthesia and analgesia, amnesia, and posthypnotic suggestion may serve as laboratory models of dissociative phenomena seen in the clinic. Furthermore, hypnosis may be useful in the exploration of processes involved in emotional response and the formation of hallucinations and delusions. With respect to personality and behavior change, hypnosis has commonly been employed in the treatment of pain and habit disorders by means of direct suggestion, but its use is not limited to suggestive therapeutics. Hypnotic relaxation, images and dreams, suggested amnesia, hypermnesia, and age regression may be useful in both psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioral therapies. Possible lines for further research on the relation between hypnosis and both experimental and clinical psychopathology are discussed. (82 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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