"any satisfactory concept of hypnosis should likewise be a theory bearing ~ above psychology at large" (Hilgard, 1991)

For over a century scientists and clinicians have proposed instrument to define the phenomenon associated with hypnosis. The crucial theories that hypnosis, historical and also current, space presented here. Because that the more recent models some understanding of cognitive psychology is useful. Within psychology most current models of exactly how the mind works what is termed "executive function" exploit the principle of one executive regulate system (Norman & Shallice, 1980, 1986) (a description of what is expected by executive control is offered on this page).

You are watching: What is the neodissociation theory of hypnosis

A an essential debate in hypnosis throughout the twentieth century has actually been between "state" vs. "non-state" theories, nature of these varieties of theory are offered below. Freshly attempts have been make to integrate findings from both of these positions.


Figure: description of part properties the state and non-state theory of hypnosis

YearTheoryKey AuthorsDescriptionType

Role theory





Neodissociation theory


Hypnotic phenomenon are developed through a dissociation that high level control systems.

State, Dissociation


Socio-cognitive theory





Response expectations theory

Kirsch (1985, 1991, 1994), Lynn

An extension of social discovering theory. Just how a participant expects suggestions to readjust their subjective experience cause a adjust in experience, and also can generate involuntary responses.



Dissociated control theory

Woody & Bowers (1994)

The regulate systems which initiate an action become dissociated native the materials that begin an action



Integrated dissociative theory

Woody & Sadler (1998)

A re-integration of dissociated experience and dissociated control theories.


1999, 2004

Integrative cognitive theory

Brown, Oakley




Cold control theory

Dienes, Perner

Draws a difference between:

being in a mental statebeing conscious of gift in the state

Argues the successful solution to hypnotic suggestion can be accomplished by forming the intentionally to carry out an action, without forming higher order thoughts around intending the action


State theories

Hilgard"s Neodissociation theory (Hilgard, 1979, 1986)

Hilgard"s Neodissociation concept of hypnosis is a standard "state" theory. The proposes the hypnotic phenomenon are produced through a dissociation within high level control systems. Essentially, the hypnotic induction is stated to break-up the work of the executive control system (ECS) into various streams. Component of the ECS attributes normally, however is can not to stand for itself in mindful awareness due to the existence of one "amnesic barrier". Hypnotic proposal act top top the dissociated part of the ECS and also the subject is aware of the outcomes of the suggestions, however is not mindful of the process by which they come about.

"Effective proposal from the hypnotist take much of the normal control away native the subject. The is, the hypnotist may influence the executive function themselves and change the hierarchical arrangements that the substructures. This is what takes place when, in the hypnotic context, engine controls are altered, perception and memory are distorted, and also hallucinations may be viewed as exterior reality" (Hilgard, 1991)

Hilgard"s theory was inspired by his experiments through the "hidden observer" phenomenon whereby a "hidden part" that the mind of a subject experiencing hypnotic pain relief might be motivated to elicit reports the the "true" ache experience. The idea that the surprise observer demonstrates the existence of consicous and unconscious executive systems in hypnosis is a controversial id (e.g Heap et al, 2004; Kirsch & Lynn, 1998).


Figure: Illustration the Hilgard"s neodissociation concept of hypnosis (click come enlarge)

An illustration the Higard"s ordered model the cognitive control is shown over (Hilgard, 1973). Woody & Sadler (2008) keep in mind that Hilgards concepts of an "amnesic barrier" and also the "hidden observer" perform not sit comfortably through cognitive or physiological emotional models.

Gruzelier"s Neurophysiological theory (Crawford & Gruzelier, 1992; Gruzelier, 1998)

Neurophysiological theory of hypnosis propose the high hypnotisables have far better executive duty than low hypnotisables and also can thus deploy their fist in various ways. Gruzelier (1998) presented a version of hypnosis qualified by transforms in brain function. The procedure of hypnosis is described in 3 stages, each through its own characteristic pattern of mind activity. Gruzelier"s neurophysiological account emphasize that alters in the way the attentional manage system operates in hynosis renders the subject more suggestible.

In the first stage the the hypnotic induction the topic pays close fist on the native of the hypnotist: activity is raised in mainly left-sided fronto-limbic brain regions. In the second stage the subject "lets go" of managed attention and gives manage to the hypnotist: there is a reduction in left frontal activity. The 3rd stage sees an increase in right-sided temporo-posterior systems as the subject engages in passive imagery. Through exhausting their frontal abilities during the induction the highs finish up frontally impaired in a hypnotic state (Dienes & Perner, 2007)

Gruzelier"s model finds some support from behavioural and neurophysiological evidence and complements various other state-like accounts of hypnotic functioning. However, interpretation of lot of the evidence an important to such models is questioned by sociocognitive theorists (e.g. Wagstaff, 2004). Crucially though, the suspect of intensified executive an abilities in high hypnotizables room testable.

Dissociated-Experience concept

The dissociated experience theory of hypnosis suggests that high hypnotisables execute hypnotic responses voluntarily, however that this initiative is not monitored correctly and is dissociated from mindful awareness.

Non-state theories

Social-cognitive theories kind the "non-state" finish of the "state-nonstate debate". State theories argue that procedures such as "repression" or "dissociation" operate when subjects are provided a suggestion, whereas non-state theories view topics as active "doers" and observe the argued effect as an enactment fairly than a happening (Spanos et al, 1980).

Social-cognitive concept of hypnosis suggests that the endure of effortlessness in hypnosis outcomes from participant"s encouraged tendencies to interpret hypnotic suggestions as no requiring active planning and also effort (i.e. The suffer of effortlessness stems from an attributional error). The attribution that volition relies on the sort of response-set which has been put right into place, and if a hypnotic response-set is in place then volition is meeting externally. Put simply, effortlessness in hypnosis comes about when individuals expect points to it is in effortless, and "decide" (more or less consciously) come respond together with suggestions.

One vital factor to note when considering socio-cognitive hypnosis theory of this kind is that they do not suggest that topics are always "faking", or not really suffering an involuntary hypnotic response. Although this models use terms such together "role enactment" or "self-presentation" they room still entirely regular with the id that hypnotised participants have actually unusual experiences. (See an elaboration the this suggest on the state/non-state page)

Spanos" Socio-Cognitive Theory

Also know variously as a "cognitive-behavioural perspective" (Spanos & Chaves, 1989), and also a "social-psychological interpretation" (Spanos, 1986). Spanos thought that attitudes, beliefs, imaginings, attributions and also expectancies all shaped hypnotic phenomena.

"Spanos (1991) offered the build of strategic duty enactment to describe how individuals transform imaginings, thoughts, and feelings right into experiences and behaviours that are regular with their ideas of how a good hypnotic subject must respond come the in its entirety hypnotic paper definition and particular suggestions in particular. Just how subjects construe the hypnotic function is therefore a vital determinant of hypnotic responsiveness."

He proposed that hypnotic behaviours could be described by the exact same normal social-psychological procedures that define non-hypnotic behaviours:

"The an answer of high hypnotisables to proposal for amnesia, analgesia, and also so on, are frequently not what they seem, and also ... Such responses in fact reflect mundane social-cognitive procedures such together compliance-induced report biases, alterations in attentional focus, and misattribution the experience, rather than such special procedures as dissociation" (Spanos & Coe, 1992).

Kirsch"s an answer Expectancy theory (Kirsch, 1985)

According to solution Expectancy theory (Kirsch, 1985) "expectancies deserve to directly transform our subjective suffer of inner states. In addition, once we suppose a specific outcome we sometimes unwittingly law so regarding produce that outcome (Kirsch, 1985, 1997, Kirsch & Lynn, 1999). For instance, when civilization take the phony cognition-enhancing drug R273 they tend to suppose it to improve their alertness, for this reason they engeg in more effortful monitoring but misattribute their boosted performance come R273 (Clifasefi et al, 2007)" (Michael, Garry, & Kirsch, 2012).

Kirsch and Lynn (1997) propose that topics in a hypnotic case have generalized an answer expectancy (a belief) that they will certainly follow the hypnotists"s instructions and will develop behaviours the are experienced as involuntary. A an effect of this is the these topics attribute hypnotic responses to external reasons (i.e. The hypnotist) and experience them as involuntary. Follow to this theory hypnotic responses room initiated by the same mechanisms together voluntary responses, the difference is in how the behaviours room experienced.

Sarbin"s role Theory (Sarbin, 1950; Sarbin, 1954; Sarbin & Coe, 1973; Coe & Sarbin, 1992)

A general theoretical framework for understanding person social behaviour.

Sarbin (1954); Sarbin (1950; Sarbin & Andersen (1967); Sarbin & Coe (1973); Coe & Sarbin (1991)

Integrative / middle-way / neither-one-nor-the-other theories

Cold manage theory (Dienes & Perner, 2007)

Cold manage theory of hypnosis considers the difference between control and awareness in regards to Rosenthal"s 21 warm (higher stimulate thought) theory. Follow to Rosenthal we are conscious of psychological states by having thoughts about those states. A thought around being in a mental state is a second-order assumed (SOT), due to the fact that it is a psychological state about a mental state (e.g. "I watch that the cat is black"). Third-order think (TOTs) are additionally possible, by becoming conscious of having an SOT (e.g. "I am conscious that the cat ns am see is black"). The cold control theory of hypnosis states that a successful response to hypnotic suggestions can be completed by forming an intention to perform the action or cognitive activity required, without forming the HOTs about intending that activity that would normally accompany reflective performance of the action.

Read a full description of cold regulate theory top top Zoltan Dienes" page

Brown & Oakley"s Integrative Cognitive theory (Brown & Oakley, 2004; Brown, 1999; Oakley, 1999)

Placing emphasis on the nature that perception and consciousness, Brown & Oakley (2004) incorporate concepts from both dissociated control and response set theories. They incorporate the dissociated control theory ide that suggested responses might be facilitated by one inhibition of high-level attention, and the response-set idea that argued involuntariness is an attribution around the causes of behaviour.


Figure: Brown & Oakley"s (2004) integrative cognitive version of hypnosis

Dissociated control Theory (DCT) (Bowers, 1992; Woody & Bowers, 1994)

Dissociated manage theory that hypnosis (DCT) applies the Norman and Shallice version of executive control to explain hypnotic responding. The initial version of the version focussed top top a useful dissociation between executive control and also lower subsystems the control. Woody & Bowers (1994) linked the concept to the Norman & Shallice mode. The DCT design proposes that when extremely hypnotizable people are hypnotized the supervisory attentional device (SAS) has end up being functionally dissociated indigenous the contention scheduling system (CS) - the is, these two levels cease to occupational together effectively. With the higher level manage system partly disabled once high-hypnotizables space hypnotized, the individual is an ext dependent ~ above lower-level CS-based automatically processes. Contextual cues and suggestions from the hypnotist influence the contention scheduling system and influence the hypnotized person"s suffer directly.

A number of studies have actually been performed to check hypotheses produced by DCT and are the evaluation in an ext detail in Jamieson & Woody (2007). One study used a complicated version the the Stroop job (difficult so the it must require strong SAS involvement) and found that extremely susceptible individuals in hypnosis produced much more errors than low hypnotizables - a result predicted by DCT. However, some other studies have uncovered evidence for enhanced attentional manage under hypnosis - contradictory to what DCT would certainly predict. Jamieson & Woody (2007) conclude that present data execute not support a simple global shutdown that frontal functioning during hypnosis.

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Figure: Woody & Sadler"s integrative dissociative concept of hypnosis

Woody & Sadler (2008) gift an integrative model of dissociative theory of hypnosis, presented above. And their chapter gives a an extensive overview of this topic. In their model, a concept of dissociated experience requires the weakening of route c, and also possibly of path e. A concept of dissociated control involves the weakening of course b, and possibly of route a. A theory of second-order dissociated manage involves the weakening of course d.

Kihlstrom"s Third way (Kihlstrom, 2008)

"...it is clean what we should do, i m sorry is give up the stance of either-or and embrace a new stance that both-and. This "third way" in hypnosis research construes hypnosis concurrently as both a state of (sometimes) profound cognitive change, involving an easy mechanisms of cognition and also consciousness, and together a social interaction, in i beg your pardon hypnotist and also subject come with each other for a certain purpose within a broader socio-cultural context." (Kihlstrom, 2008)