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Uncovering The Truth About Hypnosis Essay

985 words - 4 pages

Throughout history, hypnosis has been a widely accepted practice that was said to solve everything from psychological disorders, to weight loss. Hardly any research had been conducted on the effectiveness of hypnosis. That is, until Nicolas Spanos (1982) released his findings gathered from sixteen separate studies on hypnosis. Spanos’ theory was that hypnosis was not an altered state of consciousness, but actually voluntary actions carried out by the hypnosis patients. He claimed that due to the patients being convinced that hypnosis was real, they voluntarily abided by all instructions given by the hypnotist.
Spanos (1982) generated his theory of hypnosis based on sixteen studies conducted ...view middle of the document...

Another notable method used by Spanos (1982) was an experiment that put two separate groups into a lecture. One group was lectured on hypnotism and told that it could cause spontaneous arm rigidity without any instruction to do so. The second group was given the same lecture about hypnotism, except the arm rigidity part was left out. The results found were that participants in the first group exhibited this spontaneous arm rigidity while no one in the second group displayed this action (Spanos 1982). Conducting this experiment proved that people will take what they perceive to be hypnotic behavior, and integrate that into their performance. This integration is a result of the participant feeling the need to prove the experiment right.
A third major finding that Spanos (1982) claims was the analgesia effect. This effect deals with decreased pain while under hypnosis. Two groups were told to put their arms in ice baths, and see how long they could hold it in there. One group was told that they would later perform this same task while being hypnotized; the other group was told nothing. The group that was told they would be hypnotized later held their arms in for a much shorter duration compared to the group told nothing. This showed psychologists that the group told about the hypnosis was actually leaving room so they could score better while being hypnotized.
All of these results, along with the results of thirteen other studies, concluded to Spanos that hypnosis was nothing more than a willing participant performing voluntary acts. It is well known that under hypnosis, humans will not perform any anti-social acts, demonstrate superhuman strength, or do anything against their will. These factors show that there is nothing special about a so called hypnotic state. Individuals claiming to be hypnotized are simply highly motivated, goal driven people looking to either solve a problem, or prove the existence of hypnosis.
The findings by Nicholas Spanos (1982) were both controversial and revolutionary. Before, the view of most...

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