Journal of Traumatic Stress

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 17–33 | Cite as

Dissociation and hypnosis in post-traumatic stress disorders

  • David Spiegel


After noting the fundamental differences between the agenda of ordinary psychotherapy and the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the paper discusses the concept of trauma vis-à-vis PTSD using Yalom's (1981) four existential themes of death, freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness as organizing principles. The middle section of the paper focuses on the role of dissociation in the symptomatology of PTSD, suggesting, among other things, that many PTSD symptoms are dissociative in nature; that it is a defense against both memories of the event and the experience itself. Research is reviewed supporting the connection between PTSD and hypnotizability and the use of hypnosis in treating traumatic stress is discussed followed by two case examples. The latter section focuses on the limitations of hypnosis, transference considerations, and ends with a summary of the author's eight “C's” treatment approach: confront, condensation, confession, consolation, consciousness, concentration, control, and congruence.

Key words

post-traumatic stress disorder death freedom isolation meaninglessness dissociation hypnosis 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Spiegel
    • 1
  1. 1.School of MedicineStanford UniversityStanford

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