Hypnosis and psychopathology: Replacing old myths with fresh metaphors

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Abstract

Argues that theories of psychopathology and theories of hypnosis as a special state have been flawed by the unwitting joining of 2 mutually exclusive metaphysical systems: formism and mechanism. To support this assertion, the present paper examines the context of late-19th-century attempts to explain hypnotic phenomena and abnormal conduct. Amnesia has been cited as support for hypnosis as a special state of mind and for psychopathology as mental sickness. To support this contextualist critique, contemporary research on hypnotic amnesia is reviewed. The fact that conditions can be arranged to influence some amnesic Ss and patients to breach amnesia throws doubt on the explanatory power of disordered or disarranged minds. The conventional formist-mechanist explanation lacks categories to help understand the breaching of amnesia. A conception of amnesia as intentional action is proposed, and how the intentions are carried out is discussed. The analysis leads to the notion that amnesia is a form of rhetorical communication. Because intentions play a part in hypnotic and hysterical amnesia, explanatory concepts borrowed from the study of strategic interaction are useful in explaining the breaching of hypnotic amnesia. Among these concepts are secrets, deception, and self-deception. (62 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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