An Hypnotic analogue of alien control

modeling the delusion and testing its impact on behavior and self monitoring

Rochelle E. Cox, Amanda J. Barnier, Andrew Scott

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Alien control delusions involve the belief that self-initiated actions are caused by an external agent. In 2 experiments, we developed hypnotic suggestions designed to model aspects of this delusion. In Experiment 1, we examined whether high hypnotizable subjects would act on a suggestion to make a mess of whatever they were doing, and whether they would believe that someone else was causing these actions. We tested the impact of this suggestion by asking subjects to sign their name and pick up objects. In Experiment 2, we examined whether a hypnotic alien control suggestion could impair performance on a self-monitoring task, similar to findings among clinical patients with alien control delusions. We asked subjects to complete drawing tasks that required different amounts of self-monitoring and examined whether they could later identify their own drawings. We found that high hypnotizable subjects had difficulty signing their name and coordinating their movements. They also displayed impairments on drawing tasks that required self-monitoring. We discuss the theoretical implications of our findings and suggest ways to refine and improve our hypnotic analogue.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)407-430
    Number of pages24
    JournalPsychology of consciousness : theory, research, and practice
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • alien control
    • delusion
    • hypnotic analogue

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