Delusions in the hypnosis laboratory

modeling different pathways to mirrored-self misidentification

Michael H. Connors, Amanda J. Barnier, Robyn Langdon, Rochelle E. Cox, Vince Polito, Max Coltheart

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Mirrored-self misidentification is the delusional belief that one’s reflection in the mirror is a stranger. According to an influential theory, the content of this delusion can arise from either impaired face processing (and hence a difficulty in recognizing oneself) or mirror agnosia (an inability to use mirror knowledge when interacting with mirrors). We used hypnotic suggestions to model these two deficits and recreate features of the delusion. Sixty high-hypnotizable participants received a hypnotic induction and a suggestion for either the fully-formed delusion, impaired face processing, or mirror agnosia. All suggestions successfully recreated features of the mirrored-self misidentification delusion in the majority of participants. However, only participants given the mirror-agnosia suggestion, and not the impaired-face-processing suggestion, showed an impaired ability to use and define mirrors. These findings show that we can hypnotically recreate the delusion from its theorized components and illustrate the value of using hypnotic suggestions to model psychopathology.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)184-198
    Number of pages15
    JournalPsychology of consciousness : theory, research, and practice
    Volume1
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Keywords

    • delusion
    • hypnosis
    • instrumental hypnosis
    • mirrored-self misidentification
    • self-recognition

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