Can we recreate delusions in the laboratory?

Lisa Bortolotti*, Rochelle Cox, Amanda Barnier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


Clinical delusions are difficult to investigate in the laboratory because they co-occur with other symptoms and with intellectual impairment. Partly for these reasons, researchers have recently begun to use hypnosis with neurologically intact people in order to model clinical delusions. In this paper we describe striking analogies between the behavior of patients with a clinical delusion of mirrored self misidentification, and the behavior of highly hypnotizable subjects who receive a hypnotic suggestion to see a stranger when they look in the mirror. Based on these analogies, we argue that the use of hypnosis is a reliable method to investigate the surface features of clinical delusions. But to what extent can hypnosis successfully recreate delusions? Can it also contribute to a better understanding of delusion formation? Although clinical delusions and hypnotically induced beliefs are different in etiology, some analogies can be identified in the underlying processes that characterise them, based on the two-factor theory of delusion formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-131
Number of pages23
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • beliefs
  • delusion
  • hypnosis
  • mirrored self misidentification

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