Donnerstag, 15. November 2012

Hypnosis and Lucid Dreaming

The word Hypnosis derived from Greek and is named after Hypnos, the god of sleep. During an altered state of consciousness, the hypnotic trance the hypnotized person is open to accept different suggestions.
Hypnosis is applied for different purposes as overcoming tobacco addiction, improving mood during depression, improving the sex life or raising self esteem.

But does it really work? 
You may buy a lot of hypnosis CDs, MP3s or attend a session at a skilled hypnotist.
The CDs are often blatantly advertised and promise to cure everything. But are there valid proofs?

In his book 'Psychology: Core Concepts' Philip G. Zimbardo writes about hypnosis for pain reduction (page 229) and Michael Murphy writes in his book 'The Future of the Body' about further applications for hypnosis: diseases with a big emotional or psychical elements as herpes or warts (page 332), bodily changes like changing your skin temperature up to alterations of perception.

Hypnotizability means the ability to completely surrender the experience. It is a quite stable personality trait.
About 40% of all humans is little hypnotizable, 20% are highly hypnotizable and 10% even very highly. The hypnotic skill is of minor importance for inducting a hypnotic trance. More important is the hypnotizablility of the client. 
Hypnosis and (Lucid) Dreaming
Can you use hypnosis for lucid dreaming? May hypnosis create longer lucid dreams which occur more often?

Joseph H. Dane and Robert van der Castle investigated lucid dreaming frequency of 30 women who had no experience with lucid dreaming. All of them were highly hypnotizable.
All of them got an instruction about lucid dreams but the group who received posthypnotic suggestions to become lucid in a dream could signal a lucid dream with eye cues and report a lucid dream when in the sleep lab more often than the group who did not.
The group who solely had an instruction about lucid dreaming could signal 15 lucid dreams whereas the hypnosis group could signal 33 lucid dreams.
The lucid episodes were even longer in the hypnosis group.

It is also possible to change content of a person's dream via hypnosis. 
Charles Tart lists studies who proved that this is possible, whereas it depends on the single person how much this is possible.
Tart himself also conducted studies to show if hypnosis is suitable to influence the dream content of his experimentees.
Five out of ten subjects dreamt about the desired resp. suggested topic. Although he had only two sessions with each subject this is quite a remarkable result. Maybe he had succeeded with more of his subjects if there had been more trials. 

He also tried to change the way of sleeping of his subjects. He tried suggestions like 'Wake up at the end of a dream!" or "Wake up at the beginning of a dream!", which had good results. 
The suggestion "Do not dream at all!" did not show any result but "Dream all night long" showed an increase of REM time by 21% at one subject out of two.
Maybe his results can be reproduced in future experiments.
But in 1964 Rechtschaffen and Verdone tried to motivate their subjects prolonging their REM phases with money and reported similar success rates.

All of this experiments were performed with highly hypnotic people but only a few trials. Maybe even less hypnotizable subjects will get similarly good results if they  have the possibility to attend more hypnosis sessions.

See also:

Hypnotic suggestion as a technique for the control of dreaming by Charles Tart
Paul Tholey: TECHNIQUES FOR INDUCING AND MANIPULATING LUCID DREAMS, Perceptual and Motor Skills: Volume 57, Issue , pp. 79-90. 
Reed, S.: Reporting biases in hypnosis: Suggestion of compliance? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 105, pp. 142-145, 1996
Rechtschaffen, A., & Verdone, P. (1964). Amount of dreaming: effect of incentive, adaptation to 
laboratory, and indivi-dual differences. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 19, 947-58.

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