Skip to main content

Is high hypnotic suggestibility necessary for successful hypnotic pain intervention?

Abstract

Hypnotic suggestibility is a trait-like, individual difference variable reflecting the general tendency to respond to hypnosis and hypnotic suggestions. Research with standardized measures of hypnotic suggestibility has demonstrated that there are substantial individual differences in this variable. Higher suggestibility has been found to be associated with greater relief from hypnotic pain interventions. Although individuals in the high suggestibility range show the strongest response to hypnotic analgesia, people of medium suggestibility, who represent approximately one third of the population, also have been found to obtain significant relief from hypnosis. Thus, high hypnotic suggestibility is not necessary for successful hypnotic pain intervention. However, the available evidence does not support the efficacy of hypnotic pain interventions for people who fall in the low hypnotic suggestibility range. However, some studies suggest that these individuals may benefit from imaginative analgesia suggestions, or suggestions for pain reduction that are delivered while the person is not in hypnosis.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. 1.

    Patterson DR, Jensen MP: Hypnosis and clinical pain. Psychol Bull 2003, 129:495–521.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Jensen MP, Patterson DR: Hypnotic treatment of chronic pain. J Behav Med 2006, 29:95–124.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Green JP, Barabasz AF, Barrett D, Montgomery GH: Forging ahead: the 2003 APA Division 30 definition of hypnosis. Int J Clin Exp Hypn 2005, 53:259–264.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Montgomery GH, DuHamel KN, Redd WH: A meta-analysis of hypnotically induced analgesia: how effective is hypnosis? Int J Clin Exp Hypn 2000, 48:138–153.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Milling LS, Shores JS, Coursen EL, et al.: Response expectancies, treatment credibility, and hypnotic suggestibility: mediator and moderator effects in hypnotic and cognitive-behavioral pain interventions. Ann Behav Med 2007, 33:167–178.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Gur RC: Measuring hypnotic susceptibility: a guest editorial. Am J Clin Hypn 1978/1979, 21:64–66.

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Weitzenhoffer AM, Hilgard ER: Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press; 1962.

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Council J: A historical overview of hypnotizability assessment. Am J Clin Hypn 2002, 44:199–208.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Gwynn MI, Spanos NP: Hypnotic responsiveness, nonhypnotic suggestibility, and responsiveness to social influence. In Hypnosis and Imagination. Edited by Kunzendorf RG, Spanos NP, Wallace B. Amityville, NY: Baywood; 1996:147–175.

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Hilgard ER: Hypnotic Susceptibility. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World; 1965.

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Spanos NP, Radtke HL, Hodgins DC, et al.: The Carleton University Responsiveness to Suggestion Scale: normative data and psychometric properties. Psychol Rep 1983, 53:523–535.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Piccione C, Hilgard ER, Zimbardo PG: On the degree of stability of measured hypnotizability over a 25-year period. J Pers Soc Psychol 1989, 56:289–295.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Chaves JF: Pain management. In Handbook of Clinical Hypnosis. Edited by Rhue JW, Lynn SJ, Kirsch I. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 1993:511–532.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Kirsch I, Montgomery G, Sapirstein G: Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy: a meta-analysis. J Consult Clin Psychol 1995, 63:214–220.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Cohen J: Statistical Power for the Behavioral Sciences, edn 2. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates; 1988.

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Liossi C, Hatira P: Clinical hypnosis versus cognitive behavioral training for pain management with pediatric cancer patients undergoing bone marrow aspirations. Int J Clin Exp Hypn 1999, 47:104–116.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Harmon TM, Hynan MT, Tyre TE: Improved obstetric outcomes using hypnotic analgesia and skill mastery combined with childbirth education. J Consult Clin Psychol 1990, 58:525–530.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Andreychuk T, Skriver C: Hypnosis and biofeedback in the treatment of migraine headache. Int J Clin Exp Hypn 1975, 23:172–183.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Friedman H, Taub HA: Brief psychological training procedures in migraine treatment. Am J Clin Hypn 1984, 26:187–200.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    ter Kuile MM, Spinhoven P, Linssen AC, et al.: Autogenic training and cognitive self-hypnosis for the treatment of recurrent headaches in three different subject groups. Pain 1994, 58:331–340.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Gay M, Philipport P, Luminet O: Differential effectiveness of psychological interventions for reducing osteoarthritis pain: a comparison of Erikson hypnosis and Jacobson relaxation. Eur J Pain 2002, 6:1–16.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Spanos NP, Kennedy SK, Gwynn MI: Moderating effects of contextual variables on the relationship between hypnotic susceptibility and suggested analgesia. J Abnorm Psychol 1984, 93:285–294.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Spanos NP, Perlini, AH, Patrick L, et al.: The role of compliance in hypnotic and nonhypnotic analgesia. J Res Pers 1990, 24:433–453.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Spanos NP, Perlini AH, Robertson LA: Hypnosis, suggestion, and placebo in the reduction of experimental pain. J Abnorm Psychol 1989, 98:285–293.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Stam HJ, Spanos NP: Hypnotic analgesia, placebo analgesia, and ischemic pain: the effects of contextual variables. J Abnorm Psychol 1987, 96:313–320.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Tripp EG, Marks D: Hypnosis, relaxation and analgesia suggestions for the reduction of reported pain in high and low-suggestible subjects. Aust J Clin Exp Hypn 1986, 14:99–113.

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Barber TX, Glass LB: Significant factors in hypnotic behavior. J Abnorm Psychol 1962, 64:222–228.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Braffman W, Kirsch I: Imaginative suggestibility and hypnotizability: an empirical analysis. J Pers Soc Psychol 1999, 77:578–587.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Hilgard ER, Tart CT: Responsiveness to suggestions following waking and imagination instructions and following induction of hypnosis. J Abnorm Psychol 1966, 71:196–208.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Hull CL: Hypnosis and Suggestibility: An Experimental Approach. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts; 1933.

    Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Weitzenhoffer AM, Sjoberg BM Jr: Suggestibility with and without “induction of hypnosis.” J Nerv Ment Dis 1961, 132:204–220.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Kirsch I, Braffman W: Imaginative suggestibility and hypnotizability. Cur Dir Psychol Sci 2001, 10:57–61.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Barber TX: Measuring “hypnotic-like” suggestibility with and without ‘hypnotic induction,’ psychometric properties, norm, and variables influencing response to the Barber Suggestibility Scale (BSS). Psychol Rep 1965, 16:809–844.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Houle M, McGrath PA, Moran G, Garrett OJ: The efficacy of hypnosis-and relaxation-induced analgesia on two dimensions of pain for cold pressor and electrical tooth pulp stimulation. Pain 1988, 33:241–251.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Milling LS, Kirsch I, Allen GJ, Reutenauer EL: The effects of hypnotic and nonhypnotic imaginative suggestion on pain. Ann Behav Med 2005, 29:116–127.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Spanos NP, Katsanis J: Effects of instructional set on attributions of nonvolition during hypnotic and nonhypnotic analgesia. J Pers Soc Psychol 1989, 56:182–188.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Spanos NP, Radtke-Bodorik HL, Ferguson JD, Jones B: The effects of hypnotic susceptibility, suggestions for analgesia and the utilization of cognitive strategies on the reduction of pain. J Abnorm Psychol 1979, 88:282–292.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Van Gorp WG, Meyer RG, Dunbar KD: The efficacy of direct versus indirect hypnotic induction techniques on reduction of experimental pain. Int J Clin Exp Hypn 1985, 33:319–328.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Stam HJ, Spanos NP: Experimental designs, expectancy effect, and hypnotic analgesia. J Abnorm Psychol 1980, 89:751–762.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Leonard S. Milling.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Milling, L.S. Is high hypnotic suggestibility necessary for successful hypnotic pain intervention?. Current Science Inc 12, 98 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-008-0019-0

Download citation

Keywords

  • Pain Reduction
  • Weighted Effect Size
  • Suggestibility Range
  • Hypnotic Suggestion
  • Hypnotic Susceptibility