Developing hypnotic analogues of clinical delusions: Mirrored-self misidentification

Amanda J. Barnier, Rochelle E. Cox, Akira O'Connor, Max Coltheart, Robyn Langdon, Nora Breen, Martha Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction. Despite current research interest in delusional beliefs, there are no viable models for studying delusions in the laboratory. However, hypnosis offers a technique for creating transient delusions that are resistant to challenge. The aim of this study was to develop an hypnotic analogue of one important delusion, mirrored-self misidentification. Methods. Twelve high hypnotisable participants received an hypnotic suggestion to see either a stranger in the mirror, a mirror as a window, or a mirror as a window with a view to a stranger. Participants' deluded beliefs were challenged, and following hypnosis, Sheehan and McConkey's (1982) Experiential Analysis Technique was used to explore participants' phenomenological experience of the delusion. Results. The majority of participants did not recognise their reflection in the mirror, described the person in the mirror as having different physical characteristics to themselves, and maintained their delusion when challenged. Conclusions. The hypnotic suggestion created a credible, compelling delusion with features strikingly similar to clinical cases of mirrored-self misidentification. Our findings suggest that Factor 2 within Langdon and Coltheart's (2000) two-factor framework may involve a lowering of the criteria used to accept or reject delusional hypotheses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-430
Number of pages25
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008


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