The domain of hypnosis, revisited

John F. Kihlstrom

in The Oxford Handbook of Hypnosis

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780198570097
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

The domain of hypnosis, revisited

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  • Psychology
  • Research Methods in Psychology



Hypnosis is a process in which one person, designated the hypnotist, offers suggestions to another person, designated the subject, for imaginative experiences entailing alterations in perception, memory, and action. The phenomena of hypnosis reflect alterations in consciousness that take place in the context of a social interaction. Hypnosis entails a dyadic relationship between two individuals, the subject and the hypnotist. In the case of self-hypnosis, one person takes on both social roles. Then there is the situation in which hypnosis takes place, including the physical environment, as well as the whole socio-cultural matrix that surrounds the transaction. A fundamental problem in hypnosis research was that of simultaneously maintaining an interest in the cognitive processes by which consciousness is divided in hypnosis, and an interest in the social context in which hypnosis takes place. This article reflects on each element of the definitions of hypnosis, its historical evolution, and its current status.

Keywords: hypnotist; hypnotizability; altered state of consciousness; socio-cultural matrix; cognitive process

Article.  23621 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Research Methods in Psychology

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