Dissociation theories of hypnosis

Erik Z. Woody and Pamela Sadler

in The Oxford Handbook of Hypnosis

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

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Dissociation theories of hypnosis

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Discussion on dissociation theories of hypnosis has always faced an unpromising enigma over the exact meaning of the word ‘dissociation’ in the context of hypnosis. Hilgard (1977), who appropriated the term ‘dissociation’ from Janet (1901), called his theory of hypnosis ‘neodissociation theory’ to distinguish it from some of Janet's ideas, such as the concept that people who show dissociation have a particular form of mental deficit or biologically based weak-mindedness. This article reviews how Hilgard's concept of dissociation evolved as it appeared to mean several quite different things. Due to vagueness and inconsistencies, dissociation theories of hypnosis have been open to fairly strong lines of criticism. Aiming for the greatest possible clarity about the particular meaning of the concept of ‘disassociation’, this article argues that certain ideas that may be grouped under the term ‘dissociation’ hold great promise in understanding hypnosis.

Keywords: dissociation theories; hypnotizable subject; hypnotic analgesia; Hilgard; hypnotic phenomena

Article.  19642 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology

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