Hypnotic anaesthesia and the circle-touch test: Investigating the components of the instructions

Heather J. Wilton, Amanda J. Barnier, Kevin M. McConkey, Graham F. Wagstaff*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    High hypnotizable individuals were administered a suggestion for hypnotic anaesthesia in a circular area on the palm of the hand, and the suggestion was assessed through the circle-touch test. The test was given under three instructional conditions: (1) to say 'yes' when touched outside the hypnotically anaesthetized circle, and 'no' when touched inside the circle; (2) to say 'yes' when touched outside the circle; and (3) to say 'no' when touched inside the circle. The findings indicated particular similarities and differences across the instructional conditions in the pattern of subjects' responses to touches with aesthesiometers inside and outside the circular area. Specifically, subjects instructed to say 'yes' when touched in the non-anaesthetized area did so, and those instructed to say 'no' when touched in the anaesthetized area also tended to do so. The instruction to say 'yes' when touched outside the circle influenced responding outside, but not inside, the circle; the instruction to say 'no' when touched inside the circle influenced responding both inside and outside the circle. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for the conduct of the circle-touch test and the understanding of hypnotic anaesthesia. In addition, the implications for understanding trance logic, or the tolerance of logical incongruity by hypnotized individuals, and for appreciating the social and cognitive processes operating in the hypnotic setting, are highlighted.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)9-15
    Number of pages7
    JournalContemporary Hypnosis
    Volume14
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1997

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