The Psychophysiology of Hypnotic Susceptibility

  • Perry London
  • Joseph T. Hart
  • Morris P. Leibovitz
  • Ronald A. McDevitt


Despite a rich literature of anecdotal and clinical material on the relationship of hypnosis to physiological functions, especially to events in the central nervous system, the research findings are highly equivocal. Most relevant studies have been concerned with shifts in brain wave patterns, as measured by the electroencephalogram (EEG). The studies have attempted to identify the underlying processes which accompany the observed or reported events characteristic of passage between waking and hypnotic states of consciousness. With some exceptions, however, most studies have failed to demonstrate EEG correlates of the hypnotic state (Weitzenhoffer, 1953; True and Stephenson, 1963). Similarly, most studies of physiological functioning have failed to find clear-cut changes in the autonomic nervous system resulting from “hypnosis per se, that is, without further verbal instructions” (Edmonston, 1967).


Stress Resistance Training Effect Vigilance Task Autogenic Training Rotary Pursuit 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barber, T. X.: Toward a theory of pain. Relief of chronic pain by prefrontal leucotomy, opiates, placebos, and hypnosis. Psychol. Bull. 56, 430–460 (1959).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bettelheim, B.: Individual and mass behavior in extreme situations. J. abnorm. soc. Psychol. 38, 417–452 (1943).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bettelheim, B.: The Informed Heart — Autonomy in a Mass Age. New York: Free Press 1960.Google Scholar
  4. Biderman, A. D.: Life and death in extreme captivity situations. In: M. H. Arplet and R. Trumbull, (Eds.), Psychological Stress: Issues in Research. New York: Appleton 1967.Google Scholar
  5. Edmonston, W. E., in: Gordon, J. E. (Ed.), Handbook of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. New York: Macmillan 1967.Google Scholar
  6. Esdaile, J.: Mesmerism in India and its Practical Application in Surgery and Medicine. New York: Julian Press 1957.Google Scholar
  7. Evans, F. T., and M. T. Orne: Motivation, performance, and hypnosis. J. clin. exper. Hypnosis 13, 103–112 (1965).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hart, J. T.: Paper presented at the Seventh Annual Meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research, San Diego, October 20–22, 1967.Google Scholar
  9. Hilgard, E. R.: Hypnotic Susceptibility. New York: Harcourt 1965.Google Scholar
  10. Kissen, A. T., C. B. Reifler, and V. H. Thaler: Modification of thermoregulatory responses to cold by hypnosis. J. appl. Physiol. 19, 1043–1060 (1964).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. London, P., M. Conant, and G. Davison: More hypnosis in the unhypnotizable: Effects of hypnosis and exhortation on rote learning. J. Personality 34, 71–79 (1966).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. London, P., and M. Fuhrer: Hypnosis, motivation, and performance. J. Personality 29, 321–333 (1961).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. London, P., J. T. Hart, and M. P. Leibovitz: EEG alpha rhythms and hypnotic susceptibility. Nature, London 219, 71–72 (1968).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. London, P., and R. A. McDevitt: Modification of stress responses to cold and electric shock: The use of autohypnotic techniques. AMRL-TR-67–142, Aerospace Medical Research Laboratories, Air Force Systems Command, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio (1967).Google Scholar
  15. London, P., M. E. Ogle, and I. P. Unikel: The effects of hypnosis and motivation on resistance to heat stress. J. abnorm. soc. Psychol. 73, 532–540 (1968).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Miller, W. R., J. Doupe, and W. K. Keller: Vasomotor reactions in the hypnotic state. J. Neurol. Psychiat. 2, 97–106 (1939).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Moss, A. A.: Hypnodontics: Hypnosis in Dentistry. New York: Dental Items of Interest Publ. Co. 1952.Google Scholar
  18. Orne, M. T.: Psychological factors maximizing resistance to stress: With special reference to hypnosis. In: Klausner, S. Z. (Ed.), The Quest for Self-Control. New York: Free Press 1965.Google Scholar
  19. Rosenhan, D., and P. London: Hypnosis in the unhypnotizable. A study in rote learning. J. exper. Psychol. 65, 30–34 (1963a).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rosenhan, D., and P. London: Hypnosis: Expectation, susceptibility, and performance. J. abnorm. soc. Psychol. 66, 77–81 (1963b).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sargent, F.: II. — Tropical neurasthenia: Giant or windmill? In: UNESCO, Environmental Physiology and Psychology in Arid Conditions. Vol. 22. New York: UNESCO Publications 1964.Google Scholar
  22. Schultz, J. H.: Das autogene Training. Stuttgart: Georg Thieme 1932. (As reported in: Orne, M. T., op. cit. 1965 ).Google Scholar
  23. Schultz, J. H., and W. Luthe: Autogenic Training. New York: Grune & Stratton 1959.Google Scholar
  24. Shor, R. E.: On the physiological effects of painful stimulation during hypnotic analgesia: Basic issues for further research. In: Estabrooks, G. H. (Ed.), Hypnosis: Current Problems. New York: Harper & Row 1962.Google Scholar
  25. Shor, R. E., and E. C. Orne: Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, Form A: An adaptation for group administration with self report scoring of the Stanford hypnotic susceptibility scale, Form A. Palo Alto, California: Consulting Psychologists Press 1963.Google Scholar
  26. Slotnick, R., and P. London: Influence of instructions on hypnotic and nonhypnotic performance. J. abnorm. soc. Psychol. 70, 39–46 (1965).Google Scholar
  27. True, R. M., and C. W. Stephenson in: Kline, M. V. (Ed)., Clinical Correlations of Experimental Hypnosis. Springfield, Illinois: Thomas 1963.Google Scholar
  28. UNESCO: Proceedings of the Lucknow Symposium. In: Environmental Physiology and Psychology in Arid Conditions. Vol. 24. New York: UNESCO Publications 1964.Google Scholar
  29. Weitzenhoffer, A. M.: Hypnotism: An Objective Study in Suggestibility. New York: Wiley 1953.Google Scholar
  30. Weitzenhoffer, A. M., and E. R. Hilgard: Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Forms A and B. Palo Alto, California: Consulting Psychologists Press 1959.Google Scholar
  31. Weitzenhoffer, A. M., and E. R. Hilgard: Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C. Palo Alto, California: Consulting Psychologists Press 1962.Google Scholar
  32. West, L. J., K. Neill, and J. D. Hardy: Effects of hypnotic suggestions on pain perception and galvanic skin response. Arch. Neurol. Psychiat. 68, 549–560 (1952).Google Scholar
  33. Weybrew, B. B.: Patterns of psychophysiological response to military stress. In: Appley, M. H., and R. Trumbull (Eds.), Psychological Stress: Issues in Research. New York: Appleton 1967.Google Scholar
  34. Winklestein, L. B.: Routine hypnosis for obstetrical delivery: An evaluation of hypnosuggestion in 200 consecutive cases. Amer. J. Obstet. Gynecol. 76, 152–160 (1958).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • Perry London
    • 1
  • Joseph T. Hart
    • 1
  • Morris P. Leibovitz
    • 1
  • Ronald A. McDevitt
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaUSA

Personalised recommendations