Mirror agnosia and the mirrored-self misidentification delusion

A hypnotic analogue

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction. Mirrored-self misidentification is the delusional belief that one's reflection in the mirror is a stranger. Current theories suggest that one pathway to the delusion is mirror agnosia (a deficit in which patients are unable to use mirror knowledge when interacting with mirrors). This study examined whether a hypnotic suggestion for mirror agnosia can recreate features of the delusion. Method. Ten high hypnotisable participants were given either a suggestion to not understand mirrors or to see the mirror as a window. Participants were asked to look into a mirror and describe what they saw. Participants were tested on their understanding of mirrors and received a series of challenges. Participants then received a detailed postexperimental inquiry. Results. Three of five participants given the suggestion to not understand mirrors reported seeing a stranger and maintained this belief when challenged. These participants also showed signs of mirror agnosia. No participants given the suggestion to see a window reported seeing a stranger. Conclusion. Results indicate that a hypnotic suggestion for mirror agnosia can be used to recreate the mirrored-self misidentification delusion. Factors influencing the effectiveness of hypnotic analogues of psychopathology, such as participants expectations and interpretations, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-226
Number of pages30
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012

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