Time and Context in the Hypnotic State: An Examination of Some State Specific Effects

Wynn R. Schwartz (Ph.D., 1977)

Thesis directed by Associate Professor Peter G. Ossorio

A recent conceptualization of hypnosis suggests that the deeply hypnotized subject would show a disruption in episodic memory which would reflect a diminished awareness of duration and sequence. Specifically, the predictions were that deeply hypnotized persons would exhibit less accurate estimates of duration, and less sequence in their recall of activities, than would less hypnotized subjects and controls. The empirical task consisted of giving subjects a modified version of the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C, either with the induction (hypnosis conditions), or without the induction (control condition). Prior to the termination of the scale, subjects were asked to recall the activities they had performed and the time that had elapsed since they began the scale. Deeply hypnotized subjects were significantly less sequential in their recall of activities, and less accurate in their estimations of the passage of time, than were less hypnotized subjects and controls. These results appear to be the strongest state specific effects yet noted for hypnosis, and suggest that hypnosis may be usefully conceptualized as a state in which a person is not concerned with or paying heed to the context which the world provides for his actions. [50 pp.]