HYPNOSIS: That was “Then”; This is “Now”

What is “Hypnosis”??   

Exploring the Renovation of the Concept of Hypnosis:

                                                                                by Herbert Spiegel and David Spiegel

(please note this paper is in the midst of being further expanded and developed)


We here explore the issue of what ‘hypnosis” truly is, beyond the reverberations of “mesmerism” and “the monk Rasputin” and the “grade B “Hollywood and Vampire movies. The focus  is on the  novel approach of Herbert and David Spiegel to redefining that concept and rescuing it from the intellectual oblivion to which the mythology and magic of previous centuries seemed to pushed it.

The work of  Dr. Herbert Spiegel   (assisted by his son Dr. David Spiegel) back then in the 1970s was a break with the past mythologies , melodramas and  misconceptions  which were fostered in both the minds of the public who served as hypnotic subjects and in the minds of those scientists who attempted to research how these subjects experienced the hypnosis situational.

In a fine history of hypnosis by Erik Vance in AEON  (The fantastical history, mysterious healing power and emergent neuroscience of hypnosis”- “Look into my Eyes”) starting with Mesmer and extending the present day and these very  studies by David Spiegel which we discuss down below, he remarks,

“I didn’t know, back then,” he says, prior to his researching, meeting Dr. David Spiegel  and learning more about hypnosis from a modern perspective, ” that I had simultaneously underestimated and overestimated the power of hypnosis, a practice long tied to madness, miracles and the secrets of the occult. While it turns out that hypnosis isn’t the key to mind control or a way to contact the dead, it remains a potent means of healing some kinds of illness, easing depression and overcoming pain – hardly magic, but one of the great overlooked brain phenomena of our age.”

Hypnosis has been explored in the laboratory  for more than a century in astonishingly thoughless, or we should say ‘unthinking” fashion.

Dr. David Spiegel, the son of Dr. Herbert Spiegel,  who worked with his father on the classic reformation described in the above 1970’s work and who holds the Jack, Samuel and Lulu Wilson Professorship in Medicine at Stanford tells us,


Hypnosis is the oldest Western form of psychotherapy, but it’s been tarred with the brush of dangling watches and purple capes,” “In fact, it’s a very powerful means of changing the way we use our minds to control perception and our bodies.”

The prevailing measures, and those to which the academic research community clung with increasing desperation and increasing intellectual sophistry when the Spiegel Hypnotic Profile was introduced, such as those emerging  from both Stanford and Harvard universities in the 1950s and 60s, which have afflicted attempts to understand hypnosis research during the past half century, are based on no serious or sensible theoretical “model’ and in fact have generated almost no respectable “hypothesis” to be either confirmed or disconfirmed for decades.

Much of the research over the past century has been based on the utter reluctance to  develop an understanding of hypnosis as anything more than  a “suggestibility” phenomena, somehow a “trait” was thus said to be found those who, for some odd reason, experience a sufficient “susceptibility ” ( politically correct jargon for “weakness of will” )


As a result the research on hypnosis consisted of little more than a desultory compiling  of a batch (usually a dozen) tasks of the sort that are all too well-known to anyone and everyone exposed to the mythology of far too many movies (the arm immobilization, or the inability to bend ones arm when suggested…and so on).

What we do know is that the resultant popular as well as scientific impression of hypnosis, as it was implicitly defined, due to know clear theoretical construct every having been developed, by the assessment scales of something called “susceptibility”, emerging from Stanford and Harvard, respectively, in the 1950s and 60s, and it was sorely in need of remediation when the Spiegel’s new approach to assessment, with its own novel implicit “model’ of defining hypnosis came along

V0011094 A practictioner of Mesmerism using Animal Magnetism
V0011094 A practictioner of Mesmerism using Animal Magnetism Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://images.wellcome.ac.uk A practitioner of mesmerism using animal magnetism on a woman who responds with convulsions. Wood engraving. Mesmer, Franz Anton 1734-1815. Wood engraving c.1845 Published: – Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc 2.0 UK, see http://images.wellcome.ac.uk/indexplus/page/Prices.html

Vance, in his essay , points out,

‘Sadly , years of additional research have not uncovered much that reliably correlates with hypnotizability. It doesn’t track gullibility, intelligence, sex, race, age or any personality trait very well. The Stanford and Harvard scales don’t really even track each other “

Generations of hypnosis researchers who never left their laboratory could not get beyond seeing the twelve tasks on the Stanford Scales (selected for inclusion in the assessment instrument with utterly no basis other than their historical occurrence in previous centuries as part of the hypnosis mythology, as anything more than  an exemplification of “suggestibility” and “weakness of will ” of a motley array of unique ‘hypnotic behaviors”, Spiegel focused on understanding hypnosis is a new way, based on actual experience in the clinical setting.

What stood in the way of any progress,  among other things, was, as Herbert Spiegel noted ,  the never escaped mythology of suggestibility, weakness of will, and hence “susceptibility” to having ones imaginative faculties usurped and effectively taken control of by another, a hypnotist or other potentially evil  outside force.

In remarks more than three decades after his publication of a novel and entertaining article (     ) and his book, “Trance and Treatment” (https://www.amazon.com/Trance-Treatment-Clinical-Uses-Hypnosis/dp/1585621900} which expanded this approach to many of its far-ranging implications, he said,

“The very name “hypnosis” is unfortunate. It comes from the Greek word meaning “sleep,” and in no way is the hypnotic state related to sleep, but the very name itself perpetuates a confusing misunderstanding of the trance experience.

“Even though “susceptibility” is a term historically used in the field, it is a major contribution from Division 30 to avoid this term.

Considering the ability to experience trance as “susceptibility” created confusion for both the patient and the therapist. The label “susceptibility” implied there are certain weaknesses inherent in the subject and certain manipulations that must be calculated by the operator. This is quite unnerving to many professionals and the general public.”

Interview with Herbert Spiegel: Starting in Hypnosis

Hypnosis, according to the new view, is not  a odd mutant form of ordinary behavior ,but is an essential aspect of our behavioral repertoire that just  doesn’t happen to  be kindled into view during the course of the ordinary  social circumstances in which we usually find ourseleves.

“Trance is an innate biopsycho-social capacity that can be tapped and measured…Measurement reveals a range of trance capacity with different subjects from zero to low, to mid-range to high. Generally, it remains a stable capacity over time with each individual”

It is one of the curiosities of hypnosis research, at least in the twentieth century, that most of the influential work took place in two different labs, that of Clark Hull, the renowned learning theorist, at his lab at Yale throughout the 1920s and thereafter, and that of Ernest Hilgard, another learning theorist expert in the nuances of behavioral conditioning, and his lab in Stanford, during the 1950s and thereafter.

Both of these scientists, more experienced in working with rats and within an orthodoxy ‘behaviorism” of the sort from which our neuroscience has progressively removed itself over the years, relied on the input of someone more familiar with hypnosis,  at least to start their efforts going.

hullexp-1For Hull, it was the young Milton Erickson who was recruited and he seems to have left after some short time, no doubt, failing to experience a meeting of the minds with Hull. Similarly, for Hilgard, the European hypnotherapist, Ande Weitzenhoffer was recruited and with him, Hilgard set up the notorious Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scales.  If memory serves, Weitzenhoffer found soon enough, as did Erickson a few decades earlier with Hull, that the partnership was not one to be actively sustained for long.

The truly unfortunate aspect of this fascination of ardent and thoroughgoing behaviorist with the concept of ‘hypnosis” was that they tended to view hypnosis as a collection of ‘behaviors”.  Indeed, as the term has been used and abused over the decades, there developed an idea that the collection of ‘ hypnotic behaviors” constituted some sort of unique class of behaviors distinct from all the other o-called “ordinary behaviors”.

This kind of intellectual barbarism led to the impression that, in the hypnosis laboratory, by merely presenting the subjects with some sort of ‘hocus pocus” that smacked of the traditional “trance induction” ( drawn from their the trance inductions resulting from their  exploration of legends, stage acts and bad movies ) the researchers were capable of producing an “altered state” and with it were at the same producing  the odd and altered ‘behaviors” of hypnosis.  The academics who followed in this tradition spoke in grotesque fashion, much   as if they were creating a mutant species of unique behaviors”, which they designated as unique  “hypnotic” by simply  ‘hypnotizing people”.

It is quite the case that just about anyone who talks about observing “behaviors’ truly does not have much of a clue as to exactly what they are talking about. They tend to rely on the “naming of these behavior” in accord with only the words of ordinary language that are used to refer to people presumably engaged in those behaviors.

However if they are truly “observing” anything, it is motor movements, which they are then somehow articulating into ‘actions” (that already have ingredient in them some degree of meaningfulness for the subject and which is inferred from the ordinary language naming of these actions).  At some point they seem to thing that they can say that they’ve observed’ behaviors’.

We have to confess that to us this is somewhat nonsensical, insofar as that claim is no different from somewhat in biology who might claim to be ‘observing species’, where truly the best that can be said if we use the term “observing’ is that they have observed a collection of individual organisms within a population that presumably exemplifies the species category in terms of which these biologists are comfortable in speaking.

At any rate, the behaviorist doctrine left its mark on generations of academics who believed they were observing behaviors..and therefore, when a situation was changed by the mere utterance of a few words in a hypnotic induction ceremony that they were then observing a new species of behavior, the “hypnotic behavior”.  Sad but true.  And the story gets sadder when we explore the further truths of how the vocabulary of everyone’s talk about hypnosis became tainted by this underlying ‘behaviorism”

For one thing that we can address here, the presumption of these scientists was that ordinary people proceeded in ordinary situations by manifest ‘ordinary behaviors’. Of course, neither they nor we had any precise notion of what an “ordinary behavior  was or might be. But they were sure that it was ‘ordinary”.rat-will-work-for-food

This might not seem too tragic a misstep, however, very much an intrinsic aspect of the prevalent mythology of our culture, in that time, and indeed up to and including the present time has been that these everyday ordinary “behaviors” that people think they encounter or somehow ‘see” also carry them some degree of “intention” and indeed of “will”.  Thus the claim that the ordinary behavior of  person in the ordinary situation is somehow the result of the ‘exercise  of will” or of ‘volition” seems not terribly controversial as long as it takes place in the shopping mall or the cocktail party.

However, when this idea settled into the minds of the academic behaviorists, they found it rather self-evident that they could characterize those ‘ordinary behaviors’ (about which they no precise clue) as being “volitional behaviors” as they had some degree of ‘will” at play in their occurrence.

It was less than a hop skip and jump for them to then consider and indeed regularly claim that the various instances of this ‘odd species’ of behavior that they encountered in the hypnosis situation (arm immobilization, arm rigidity, post hypnotic suggestion, hallucinations, etc) were therefore  adequately described as being full-blown and fascinating “non volitional behaviors”.

The oddity of this entire collective enterprise of research extending over decades gets even a bit more odd as it goes along.  At some point, it had to dawn on some of the researchers that they might verify in some way or confirm that the behaviors  that they were ‘observing” were not being feigned by the subject in order to comply with the expected demands…or feigned for other reasons.  Thus they decided that they would ask the person engaged in these ‘odd behaviors” whether they were being executed “voluntarily or not’ or, as they came to call  them, “non-volitional” or not.

Well we can imagine what transpired when a person was asked whether the behavior they just before was ‘non volitional or not’.  To be sure, they might indeed have commented that the feelings they experienced when  “their arms were raised  during the arm levitation” or the “inability after seeming to try to bend the arm” and so on were a bit peculiar or odd or something to that effect’

However, since even our most esteemed philosophers and the prize wining scientist is among us cannot define what it means for an act to be “willed or not”, the average subject in the hypnosis lab could not be expected to have done much better in their response.

So when this question became such an essential aspect of all these tests , we have the spectacle of the asking of a question very much like the one by which we are amused when comics entertain us with the asking of ‘when did you stop beating your wife?”

The person is asked whether or not he or she is now no longer producing those “ordinary”  behaviors which are classified as  ‘volitional” as ‘willing their movements or actions”, although he rightly can have no clear or indeed any idea of what it means to have exhibited a pure willed behavior at some other..

He or she could respond  to the query by saying NO.  In which case they are taken to introspectively admit of  being able to say that he or she is no longer  doing what they did before…and thus no longer producing those  never defined ‘willed behaviors’ in which the lab scientist has such interest.  This of course serves to perpetuate two illusions and not just one.  First that there is indeed the normal other state of “volitional behavior” on the basis of some cognizance with  he subject has resonded…and those entail the ‘exercise of will”???

Of course if he or she said ‘yes”…this introspective act would be taken to mean that they are still during hypnosis “acting by means of willed behaviors”..and the illusion and mythology of our ordinary behaviors being ‘willed” just goes on nonetheless.

How this odd confection or  concept opnof “hypnosis” with which many of us still live today was cobbled together over the decades and centuries is part of our further story here.

While for the academic establishment forces
hypnosis was an occult occurrence due to the  tapping of  the person’s ‘susceptibility” to one’s own imagination being taken over by another, for Herbert  Spiegel hypnotizability was understandable as a  “capacity” and “ability”  that is with us, as an aspect of our way of experiencing and navigating through life for  most of us, most of the time.

The experience of hypnosis is morphed from a passive vulnerability to the control by another to being an “active participation” and utilization of a hat  special capacity As Spiegel said,

As the Amazon summary of the Trance and Treatment books, says,

“The challenge (for the Spiegels)  was to develop a clinica
l measurement that could transform a fascinating amalgam of anecdotes, speculations, clinical intuitions and observations, and laboratory advances into a more fruitful and systematic body of information. Thus was born the authors’ Hypnotic Induction Profile (HIP), a crucial 10-minute clinical assessment procedure that relates the spectrum of hypnotizability to personality style, psychopathology, and treatment outcome.”

And they delivered on the promise of his statement.

The new measuring instrument, the HIP , was  a quickly administered, easy flowing and natural assessment that has been widely used by clinicians that allowed them to have a gauge of the ability of the patient to benefit from hypnosis.

It was based on an entirely different set of measures, not those lamely drawn from an idle enchantment with the stage acts and drama of the past as was done with the Stanford and Harvard scales, but one derived from a natural clinical sequence of events and one which therefore had relevance to how people, patients and not just “subjects” acted and reacted in a real clinical setting.

 “The definition should specify that trance alone is not therapy, but when entered into, it can augment psychotherapeutic strategies. Since it is a state which reflects capacity and ability, and not a therapy, it has become a fertile ground for research.”

In other words, a clinician could not only use this quick “profiling’ to learn about whether or not to embark on some hypnotic work with the patient, but the response on the little test actually reflected back and provided a prism whose insights radiated to all facets of the persons’ “personality” and how they tended to “use their minds AND the their brains” in their daily lives.


This publication from the 1970s which we feature here first addressed that situation.  It is the classic article which first described the HIP, beginning with its characteristic “eye roll” assessment at its outset, that essentially redefined hypnosis both conceptually and operationally and led to the publishing of “Trance and Treatment”


The Hypnotic Profile, by essentially ‘junking’ the standard reliance on mythologies, provide both beginning and seasoned practitioners with a brief, disciplined technique for mobilizing and learning from an individual’s capacity to concentrate.

This paper which actually redefines the trait of ‘hypnotizability” BOTH operationally and conceptually  at the same time and gives us a glimpse of what the very nature of the Hypnosis experience is. (we promise you that it is a “fun” and illuminating “read”….)


With apologies to the reader, we present here a video, which is the only one we could find that shows something like the Spiegel “eye-roll”.  As we note,  this is both an indicator of underlying capacity (actually patterning of connectivity networks as defined by fMRI) and, at the same time, it actually can bring someone to the beginning of a hypnotic “trance” state.

(NOTE: This fellow is not at all the “world’s fastest hypnotist”, but we have ourselves experienced how quickly a small percentage of the population can be effected by this simple exercise.  And he, of course, confused about the historical  origins of the Spiegel “eye-roll” but, however .. a video is worth at least a thousand words..  It is instructive to see how those out there e outside the laboratory cloister have appreciated the practical aspects of this reconsideration of the concept of hypnosis

We can see that the  ‘Eye-roll” assessment at the outset of the Hypnotic Profile (from which the hypnotic virtuoso like performance of the “Grade 5” person is derived)  and which actually constitutes itself the first step of an induction procedure, is not at all based on any  mythology or the antiquated notions of “suggestibility” or “loss of will” that afflict the tacit suppositional framework behind the other measures of ‘hypnotizability”, which, in fact are not even called that, but referred to by their authors measures of “susceptibility”.

.  This brief eye roll measure works for reasons that were not evident till recent neuroscience pointed us in the direction of the anterior cingulate and posterior cingulate gyri.   That area of our brain’s is pretty much agreed upon nowadays to be linked directly to our eye movements and how our oculomotor actions and reactions are in turn related to the rest of our navigation through our lives.


The eyes via the assessment of the eye roll are here truly  a remarkable and immediate window to the functioning of the various connectivity networks of our brain that allow it to modulate the control of one’s relation to ones’ own coordination, evaluation and reactions to ones own  movements

The key area of the brain involved (see below for more) in the eye movements and what we do with them is the Anterior Cingulate Cortex….and indeed the Posterior Cingulate is involved in a different way in much of our behavior.

The Anterior cingulate cortexcontributes to  the management of ocular motor function through dense, reciprocal connectivity with the supplementary eye field and a weaker linkage with the frontal eye field, superior colliculus and ocular motor thalamic nucle

Known (for short) as  the ACC, anterior cingulate ( are found at the front of the cingulate cortex and wraps around the head of the corpus callosumwith  connections with an extensive variety of other brain regions, and thus the functions associated with it are diverse, including  decision-making ,management of social behavior.


It is involved when there is some sort of consideration of options and evalution in the service of adjusting to circumstances. In general it is implicated in an incredible number of everyday behaviors, since they pretty much all require that kind of consideration, evalution and decision making.

It has been strongly implicated in regulation of autonomic and endocrine responses, in the selection and initiation of motor movements and, importantly, in pain perception, participating in precisely the kind of analgesia for which hypnosis is known.

There is indeed “Something” about that ‘eye-roll’ test which requires of a person a direct but rather unusual manipulation of their eyes so that they remain staring into the top of their heads…with their oculomotor muscles doing that work…while, at the same time being asked to coordinate the lowering of their eye-lids all the way down while keep their eye gaze elevated…and that something is the ability of the therapist to see how the ‘task” is coped with by the anterior cingulate ((and especially apparently the dorsal portion of it

Lastly and probably as important as anything to be considered in the understanding of the “eye-roll’ and the understanding, in turn, that it offers us of how the person can regulate that area is the fact that the ACC is unique in its abundance of specialized neurons called or von Economo neurons. These cells are a relatively recent occurrence in evolutionary terms and are extremely large and fast conducting and are generally strongly implicated in all discussions of the unique aspects of human “consciousness”.

screenshot-2017-03-05-19-57-51There has always been a dim but definite connection sensed by all observers to hold between the manner in which we mobilize our eyes –and indeed that ability to engage in an upward gaze with…during our experience and the phenomena of hypnosis, has been known since the time of Braid in the 19th century, and then, of

course, with the endless recourse to the waving watch and the a swirling kaleidoscope that presumably have some magic effect on the person.

But just to clinch our interest in the access to the mind which the “eye-roll” test gives us, we should recall that In The Astonishing Hypothesis, Frances Crick identified the anterior cingulate, to be specific the anterior cingulate sulcus, as a likely candidate for the center of free will in humans. Crick based his suggestion back then on scans of patients with specific lesions in the ACC that seemed relate to the sense of independent will and the well known “alien hand syndrome” in which people action find their hands moving and doing things about which they have no control.

 W should not be surprised that (down below) in our discussion of the research done by David Spiegel’s group , the  most prominent correlates of the HIP profiling and the fMRI measures of the brain state in hypnosis of the highly hypnotizable subjects show up strikingly  as related to  the activation and connectivity of the Anterior Cingulate area

Thus the skills requisite to obtaining the  highest Grade 5 virtuoso performance on the HIP or even the Grade 4 which allows for the experience of some considerable degree of hypnotic phenomena,  are not the embodiment of  weakness of will


What is going on here in the eye-roll portion of the HIP and hat directly taps into the neuroscience of our experience Moreover,and, indeed, remarkably, the quick assessment of the hypnotic response in this measure of the HIP as it progresses fro the eye-roll to the other elements of the ten minute profile, actually shed light on the more general style, emotional and cognitive, of the person being tested.

However, we should further note that the HIP is not predicated simply on the eye-roll index which is gathered in the first minute (as the world’s fastest hypnotist…lol…shows us) but the assessment is one which directly contrasts what the subject is able to do in terms of this seemingly simple task, unrelated to any social or personal or cognitive issues of the person in that setting) with the performance on the specially handled and instructed arm levitation task.

This latter task is not administered in the classic zombie instructional mode of bad black and white movies…as it is in various other scales…but is shaped and administered in a way, with various additional suggestions and coaching if needed,  that mirrors the kind of personal ongoing situation between patient and therapist that might occur in a clinicial setting. Thus what is sought in the HIP is an assessment that is somewhat like a comparison of “potential with actual” in the management and regulation of that astonishing Anterior Cingulate Cortex.

The more I understood about hypnosis, David Spiegel has said, “the more confused I was why so few people have studied it for generations. There had not been any studies in which the goal was to simply ask what’s going on in the brain when you’re hypnotized,” 

He adds that  he’s seen a definite uptick in interest in recent years among colleagues, but

“Hypnosis is still the Rodney Dangerfield of psychology –

it can’t get no respect.”


Regrettably, while  appreciation of the HIP by clinicians around the world steadily grew over the past few decades , the academic researchers, saddled with fascination and  riveted to the outdated laboratory derived measures of ‘susceptibility’ and being classically uninterested in the clinically relevant aspects of the HIP, were themselves not ready to go along with the Spiegel’s reformulation of hypnosis.

The academics, such as the renowned Ernst Hilgard at Stanford, while highly esteemed in area of behavioral learning and no doubt experienced with the ways rats behaved in the lab,, never managed to truly appreciate the events occurring within  a clinically based real world hypnotic interaction ,  especially when those aspects of the procedure unfold in the   natural manner in which they are uniquely channeled in the  Spiegels’ HIP.

Commentary: Defining Hypnosis http://www.asch.net/portals/0/journallibrary/articles/ajch-48/spiegel.pdf

This sad  historical fact was that the psychologists or researchers to whom the Spiegels were presenting this novel reinterpretation of the paradigm of hypnosis along with the new instrument for operationalizing that paradigm were themselves members of the mass public in more ways than they themselves suspected.

They were ensconced in ordinary the  language use and misuse of ‘psych talk”of the everyday unexamined life, and the same cultural setting as were we all, including those whom they were studying and they unwittingly were subject to guiding their thinking in accord with to the same myths and legends.


As happens often in neuroscience these academicians  were prone to plunge into  the task of assessing and measuring phenomena that were truly epiphenomenal,  merely mirages arising  from  that  ordinary language.  They did so, conspicuously failing to first scrutinize their own conceptions and methodology sufficiently to properly determine whether there was anything “there”  to be “measured” other than their own illusions of speaking that they shared with their very own subjects.

The Stanford scales and their cousin, the Harvard Scales were  the sign of their glaring  symptom of their embeddedness in cultural mythology. And at the same time those measuring instruments were the direct vehicle through which they managed to  impose their prevalent scientific dogmas on the myths they were seeking to explore.

Consequently this aggregation of “hypnotic tasks” only had in common their apparent co occurrence at one time or another, in one stage act or movie or another, in the midst of various historical instances of hypnosis or trance.  There was thus utterly no basis whatsoever in terms of any conceptual framework or coherent underlying “model” whose verification could be expected by the willy-nilly administration of a dozen motley “hypnotic tasks”.

Ironically, while the Spiegels gave the hypnosis research community a way out of their unproductive labors of many decade,  they did not like being pointed to “the moon”, the Spiegels new implicit paradigm . Rather the academic research establishment could only point to the finger, the HIP assessment instrument and frantically criticize the measure because it only correlated at about .30 with their beloved Stanford susceptibility defined instrument.

This forced the  elucidation of the phenomenon of hypnosis to linger un-rescued from the ancient entrapment in ordinary language use in which this rather striking aspect of human life been enshrouded for centuries.



It was unfortunate that Spiegel, operating on clinical insight and experience could shape a measuring instrument which succeeded in very nicely operationalizing for ready assessment the events he witnessed in the clinical setting, but he did not have the vocabulary at that time nor the level of neuroscience knowledge made possible by today’s technologies.

The principal reason, we believe, for the failure of the Speigels’ radical reconstruction of the notion of hypnosis  to have taken “hold” was the lack of availability  at that time of today’s  neuroscience technologies and the vast world of functional MRI data on connectivity that has emerged, to name just one of many advance.

The functional MRI research of the past couple of years. which now can show numerous incredibly interesting and novel aspects to both the so called ‘hypnotic state” and additionally to the resting state, prior to the hypnosis situation, of the subject who is said to hypnotizable (by virtue of their demonstrated performance in the HIP that is part of the Spiegel paradigm which we wish to articulate further in this essay..

“Long induction ceremonies are not necessary to induce trance. In fact, some rapid inductions can be achieved in 30 seconds (Finkelstein, 2003). We are not putting the patient to sleep, nor are we trying to eliminate the patient’s participation in the therapeutic process.

Even in regressions, the patient is sufficiently alert to interact with the therapist; and, in the laboratory, brain waves indicate an active, alert physiological state (H. Spiegel & D. Spiegel, 2004; H. Spiegel, Greenleaf & D. Spiegel, 2005).”

Additionally,  we believe, a further element working against the acceptance of the Spiegel’s novel reconstruction of what hypnosis actually might mean, which were very evident in the operational measures by which they defined it, was their  continued reliance of ordinary language use and merely trying to provide a rehabilitation of the notion of ‘imagination’ to where it was restored to the service of the person rather than to serving the will of the hypnotist.

For example Dr Spiegel states (trying to capture in tradiional words such as imagination and suggestion the essence of his own procedure which is beyond the reach or grasp of those words).

“We offer a definition of hypnosis (or trance) as an animated, altered, integrated state of focused consciousness” controlled imagination. It is an attentive, receptive state of concentration that can be activated readily and measured. It requires some degree of dissociation to enter and become involved in imagined activity, enough concentration for an individual to maintain a certain level of absorption, and some degree of suggestibility to take in new premises (H. Spiegel & Greenleaf, 1992).

 To us, the presentation of a novel measuring instrument actually constituted the presentation of a radically new “model” or ‘paradigm” of hypnosis, however, to the extent that the underlying neuroscience data wasn’t there yet to allow a full bodied expression of the paradigm and, at the same time, the reliance of the ‘theory” behind the HIP on the classic terminologies of “suggestibility”, “imagination”, and the various other vicissitudes of the “faculties of the mind” in age old and truly vestigial language stood in the way of the wider acceptance of what was in effect a radically new paradigm.
Clearly those who insisted on using the older scales from Stanford and Harvard were also clinging to some unspoken truly incoherent implicit framework.  And even more truly, their insistence on seeking to verify the claims and predictions of the Spiegel’s notion of hypnotizability by means of their radically inappropriate measures made for decades of impasse.

Thus the operational expression of the Spiegel “paradigm” embodied in the HIP assessment instrument had to linger out there unappreciated in the  academic research wasteland,  waiting  a few decades for a new ‘paradigm” adequate to the job  of elucidating a conceptual framework or “theoretical model” in terms of which both to further understand the HIP and, importantly, able to be sufficiently cogent in its constructs to make believers of those still out there actively and desperately “disbelieving’.

A theoretical “model ‘  up to the task of matching the astuteness of their clinical assessment instrument could not emerge while  straitjacketed by everyday conceptions in which hypnosis has come to be described by all of us, laymen and scientists, subjects and hypnotists, in our own imaginings as well as in the fantasies presented to us in all our media.

That there would not ever turn out to be any significant correlation of the scores on these concocted tests is not at all surprising. Why should there be? Since there was nothing but adherence to one legend or another to justify their collection in one score.

Hopefully, now the next steps can be taken, where there are quite sensible patterns of functional connectivity patterns between the networks of the brain, as they continue to be articulated, that also are isomorphic both to these patterns of performance on the HIP and to the patterns of preferred use of the cogntive/emotional repertoire of each persons’s brain, as these repertoires are shaped over the years of experience. In fact, David Spiegels commentary at the conclusion of his recent fMRI studies resonates with much the same thematic correspondence.

We recall having learned about the HIP at the same time, years ago, when we were reading, and were quite captivated by a classic book. Neurotic Styles, by Shapiro.

The patterning of preferred mode of neurotic style  of each person was quite isomorphic with the individual patterning of results in hypnotic induction performance made available by the HIP. In fact the spectrum presented by the HIP and its endpoints of” highly hypnotizable vs unhypnotizable mirrors very well the Shapiro’s  “hysterical” and “obsessive-compulsive” styles  and also lines up will with  additional insights into the disparities  between  those diagnosed as depressive versus that those diagnosed as schizophrenic

As Spiegel noted a long time ago, “What is hypnosis? Despite widespread misconceptions, hypnosis is not a treatment in itself; instead, it is a facilitator — a useful diagnostic tool that can help the practitioner choose an appropriate treatment modality and accelerate various primary treatment strategies.”


“Shapiro’s early studies of neuroses spawned his later interests in the subjective pathological experience of autonomy (Shapiro, 1981, 1985).  Autonomy is accomplished when one both masters and achieves independence from their immediate environment.   suggests that impairment of autonomy and self-direction is evident in all psychopathology and its subsequent symptomatology. “Every condition of psychopathology is characterized by modes of action that in one way or another compromise volitional processes and distort normal volitional processes”

It is a shame to us, that with the availability of the advanced in assessment of connectivity networks, the HIP along with the Shapiroo notions aren’t all allowed to reflect light on each other. As a recent review of Shapiro’s work tells us , the parallels between Shapiro’s nomenclature and Spiegel’s” is not surprising given  the fact that   the issue of “will and volition” which hovers all around it like an inescapable .

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