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Kohnstamm effect


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A dramatic phenomenon of involuntary movement. Stand with one shoulder about a foot from a wall and, with your arm rigidly extended downwards, press the back of your hand hard against the wall for about two minutes. If you then stand away from the wall with your arm hanging loosely by your side, it will rise up into the air, spontaneously and involuntarily. A double-arm version of the effect can be produced by standing in an open doorway and pressing the backs of both hands against the door frame. The phenomenon has been exploited in preparing people for hypnosis, by deluding them into believing that they are responding involuntarily to a suggestion from the hypnotist for their arms to rise. The phenomenon has been interpreted as a postural aftereffect. Also called the Kohnstamm phenomenon or Kohnstamm manoeuvre. [Named after the German physician Oskar Kohnstamm (1871–1917) who drew attention to it]

Subjects: Psychology.


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