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Hypnosis is Made of Three Main Components: Absorption, Dissociation and Suggestion

Steve G. Jones 12-17

Hypnosis is Made of Three Main Components: Absorption, Dissociation and Suggestion Hypnosis is often called a 'trance state.' A trance state is an altered state that is different from normal wakening state characterized by beta waves in the brain. It is simply a heightened state of concentration and awareness. Most people achieve a hypnotic trance state every day and many times a day by driving a car or getting absorbed in a book. It is thought that people have a certain capacity for hypnotic trance. People who are able to have hypnotic experiences during their everyday life are thought to be highly suggestible.

There are three main components of hypnosis: absorption, dissociation, and suggestibility. Generally speaking, the more suggestible a person is, the more they are able to dissociate and a person is able to direct their attention and their absorption is more focused (Spiegel & Spiegel, 2004). It has been found that people who are highly hypnotizable have the personality trait of 'absorption.' They are more likely to find themselves absorbed in a task.

A study was performed on the hypnotizability of 481 undergraduate women. In addition to measuring their hypnotic suggestibility, their personality traits were studied. The study found that absorption was a common personality trait of highly suggestible women and there was a correlation between hypnotizability and absorption. These women commonly had moments of full attention on specific tasks in their everyday lives. The absorption was also characterized by fully engaged representational systems including their visual, auditory, and kinesthetic resources (Tellegen & Atkinson, 1974).

Another study looked to compare the differences between low hypnotizables and high hypnotizables. It was found that the hypnotic responsiveness of high hypnotizables was due to dissociated control. This suggests that suggestions from a hypnotic trance activate cognitive control. During hypnosis a person is often able to dissociate themselves from normal conscious and cognitive thought. People who possess the ability to be more likely to become hypnotized also have an easier time dissociating themselves from their surrounding or from cognitive thought (Bowers, 1992).

The third component of hypnosis is suggestibility. The induction aspect of a hypnosis session increases suggestibility. When a person has increased absorption and increased dissociation due to a hypnotic induction or trance, they become more suggestible (Kirsch, 1997).

Due to these three main components of hypnosis, there are varying degrees of hypnotizability and suggestibility in people. The capacity to be hypnotically induced can be either genetic or learned. Hypnosis can occur in three different ways: spontaneously, induced by a hypnotist, or self-induced. People respond to hypnosis in different ways and in different capacities.



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