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gib65

how does hypnosis work?

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Hello,

I've been doing some research on hypnosis. Trying to understand how it works. I came across this website here:

https://gshypnosis.com/does-hypnosis-work-understanding-the-science-of-hypnotherapy-2/#

I thought I'd ask about this on a science forum like this one.

According to the link above, the way hypnosis works is by inhibiting what they call "top down" thinking thereby allowing "bottom up" processing to work more effectively. Top down thinking is the way our expectations and assumptions influence the way we interpret our immediate experiences. One example they site is this:

A group of participants were asked to take a wine taste test. They were given two choices: A glass of “expensive” wine and another of moderately priced wine. The truth was: Both glasses were the same wine. But participants expected the expensive wine to taste better, and therefore, they gave it much higher marks for taste.

So their expectation of how the wine should taste, which was set by being told it was more expensive, determined how the wine actually tasted. Their expectation is an example of "top down" thinking.

The link suggests that hypnosis inhibits top down thinking so that whatever is suggested to them (which would count as bottom up thinking) has a much more powerful effect.

How established is this theory in science? Should it be dismissed as bunk? As well established? Unknown? And what's everyone opinion on it? 

 

 

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I've been using hypnotherapy apps for a bit as a sleep aid and occasionally for self improvement. I can't speak for efficiency but do find myself recalling and often using suggestions from the recordings the following days.

See some bits on top down and bottom up processing in psychology, not sure whether that says anything on hypnosis though.

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On 10/21/2018 at 2:30 PM, gib65 said:

So their expectation of how the wine should taste, which was set by being told it was more expensive, determined how the wine actually tasted.

It determined their perception of the wine's taste, I would say instead (since the taste doesn't actually change based on price). But you don't know the expertise of "a group of participants". If they weren't knowledgeable about wines, then the price of a bottle might be more significant information for them than their own amateur tastes. 

Hypnotherapy has always seemed like a voluntary placebo to me. If you think it will curb your appetite or make you able to shun cigarettes, then the probability it will increases. It can be a good tool.

The questionable part to me in this article is assuming hypnotherapy can "bypass" and "empower" the participant, especially wrt critical thought. I'll have to think about the efficacy of being able to see the word "blue" and say "red" after my hypnotized mind turns "blue" into nonsense. The whole concept of bypassing critical thinking to accept a suggestion without question is antithetical to what I've been studying for the last decade or so.

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9 hours ago, Phi for All said:

The questionable part to me in this article is assuming hypnotherapy can "bypass" and "empower" the participant, especially wrt critical thought. I'll have to think about the efficacy of being able to see the word "blue" and say "red" after my hypnotized mind turns "blue" into nonsense. The whole concept of bypassing critical thinking to accept a suggestion without question is antithetical to what I've been studying for the last decade or so.

Does make one ponder free will.

Like what you say about it being a voluntary placebo. Good way to put it.

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On 10/21/2018 at 10:30 PM, gib65 said:

The link suggests that hypnosis inhibits top down thinking so that whatever is suggested to them (which would count as bottom up thinking) has a much more powerful effect.

I am not so much in the science of hypnosis, but it at least makes some sense to me. 

I once did a small course in hypnosis during my studying at university. Some elements were to strengthen certain thoughts, by using suggestive imagination, to improve memory by using images and a few more. As special 'last session' we did a regression (=reincarnation) session. I was the voluntary.

As usual we worked with images. At some moment there arose an image in me, clearly not from my life, and I did not like it. Against what many people believe, during hypnosis one is still fully aware of what is happening inside and outside you. And because I did not like the image, I decided to wait until some other image would come. But there came none. So rather unwillingly I started to describe the image to the course leader and my colleagues. So it really seemed my critical, fully conscious thought had not much to say in the matter. Looks like the 'bottom-up' situation you describe.

Another observation: there was obvious anger in the story I told, and at some moment the course leader invited me to express my anger: one of the things I did was clenching my fists. But afterwards, coming out of the relaxation of the hypnosis (which took about an hour), I only could start moving very slowly. Impossible to clench my fists immediately!

For the record: I do not believe in reincarnation. I explain my session as finding images that fit best to the feeling I had at the moment. I even think that I know where some of the images came from: some movie that impressed me very much, creating then my own story around it. But I can imagine that for many people it feels very real because one is very focused on what is going on in one's mind.

 

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