The cognitive characteristics of highly hypnotizable subjects (Highs) allow them to easily modify their cognitive and autonomic state. Under hypnosis, Highs receiving cognitive, fear-like stimulation exhibit the cardiovascular changes typical of fear/stress, but also show an EEG pattern indicating a balance between fear-induced arousal and hypnotic relaxation. Indeed, hypnosis is effective in the attenuation of both emotional experience and behaviour (emotional numbing). The aim of the present experiment was to investigate the possible different role of relaxation and suggestion in hypnotic emotional numbing. Tonic skin conductance, respirogram, heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure were recorded in 3 groups of hypnotized subjects: Group 1 received a fearful guided imagery associated with threat suggestions (Threat) followed by the same fearful suggestion associated with numbing instructions (relaxation and "No-Threat"); Group 2 received the same instructions in the opposite order of presentation; Group 3 received the fearful suggestion with threat instructions twice. The numbing suggestion reduced fear-related emotional experience and autonomic responses; if No-Threat preceded Threat, the heart rate, heart rate variability and blood pressure were also reduced during Threat, in spite of self reports of high negative emotion. Thus, 1) the subjective experience and the autonomic response to fear can be dissociated; 2) the efficacy of numbing suggestion is extended to a subsequent Threat stimulation; 3) habituation does not contribute to the numbing effect. The results indicate that the specific numbing suggestion is the main factor in hypnotic modulation of the experience of fear.

Role of relaxation and specific suggestions in hypnotic emotional numbing

SEBASTIANI, LAURA;MENICUCCI D.;GHELARDUCCI, BRUNELLO;SANTARCANGELO, ENRICA LAURA
2007

Abstract

The cognitive characteristics of highly hypnotizable subjects (Highs) allow them to easily modify their cognitive and autonomic state. Under hypnosis, Highs receiving cognitive, fear-like stimulation exhibit the cardiovascular changes typical of fear/stress, but also show an EEG pattern indicating a balance between fear-induced arousal and hypnotic relaxation. Indeed, hypnosis is effective in the attenuation of both emotional experience and behaviour (emotional numbing). The aim of the present experiment was to investigate the possible different role of relaxation and suggestion in hypnotic emotional numbing. Tonic skin conductance, respirogram, heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure were recorded in 3 groups of hypnotized subjects: Group 1 received a fearful guided imagery associated with threat suggestions (Threat) followed by the same fearful suggestion associated with numbing instructions (relaxation and "No-Threat"); Group 2 received the same instructions in the opposite order of presentation; Group 3 received the fearful suggestion with threat instructions twice. The numbing suggestion reduced fear-related emotional experience and autonomic responses; if No-Threat preceded Threat, the heart rate, heart rate variability and blood pressure were also reduced during Threat, in spite of self reports of high negative emotion. Thus, 1) the subjective experience and the autonomic response to fear can be dissociated; 2) the efficacy of numbing suggestion is extended to a subsequent Threat stimulation; 3) habituation does not contribute to the numbing effect. The results indicate that the specific numbing suggestion is the main factor in hypnotic modulation of the experience of fear.
Sebastiani, Laura; D'Alessandro, L.; Menicucci, D.; Ghelarducci, Brunello; Santarcangelo, ENRICA LAURA
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/201152
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