4. Suggestions

Hypnotic suggestions are the instructions conveyed by the hypnotist to the subject once hypnosis-as-procedure, and preferentially also hypnosis-as-product, has occurred, and that the subject may decide to act upon and experience as if real. These hypnotic suggestions consist of direct instructions and firm statements as to what the subject is supposed to experience, and are, by this, differentiated from the indirect invitations to imagination and visualization of non-hypnotic suggestibility [Hilgard and Tart (1966)]

There are two groups of hypnotic suggestions: (1) facilitating suggestions, and (2) inhibiting suggestions. Furthermore, the facilitating and inhibiting suggestions may be subdivided in three types of content: (1) action, (2) perception, and (3) memory (Figure 9.1.) [Woody and Sadler (2008)].





4.1. FACILITATING SUGGESTIONS
Facilitating suggestions are positive suggestions that instruct the actualization of an event that otherwise would not have happened.

These positive suggestions may be of 3 types of content: (1) ideomotor behaviors, (2) positive hallucinations, and (3) memory creation and changes in identity.

4.1.1. Ideomotor behaviors
Facilitating suggestions for action give rise to ideomotor behaviors, or the involuntary movement of a part of the subject’s body. An example of ideomotor behaviors is the suggestion of the subject holding an implausible heavy weight, and the following dropping of that arm.

4.1.2. Positive hallucinations
Facilitating suggestions of perception give rise to positive hallucinations, or the perception of visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, or tactile stimulation that is not really present. An example of positive hallucinations is the suggestion of a mosquito buzzing about the subject’s head, and the following effort of the subject trying to avoid and even to swat it.

4.1.3. Memory creation and changes in identity
Facilitating suggestions of memory give rise to memory creation as well as changes in identity. Memory creation is the remembrance of people, places or events that the subject never really has experienced, while changes in identity is the belief that the subject is somebody else all together. An example of memory creation is the suggestion of the subject having met the hypnotist in the past, when, in fact, they’ve only just recently met. An example of changes in identity, on the other hand, is the suggestion of the subject being a male when, in fact, she is a female – or the other way around.


4.2. INHIBITING SUGGESTIONS
Inhibiting suggestions are negative suggestions that instruct the blockage of an event that otherwise would have happened.

As for facilitating suggestions, these negative suggestions may be of 3 types of content: (1) failures of willed action, (2) negative hallucinations and analgesia, and (3) post-hypnotic amnesia.

4.2.1. Failures of willed action
Inhibiting suggestions of action give rise to failures of willed action, or the inability of the subject to move a part of his or her own body. An example of failures of willed action is the suggestion that the subject’s hands are glued together, and the following inability to separate these hands.

4.2.2. Negative hallucinations and analgesia
Inhibiting suggestions of perception give rise to negative hallucinations as well as analgesia. Negative hallucinations are absence of perception of visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, or tactile stimulation that is present, while analgesia is the decreased perception of pain. An example of negative hallucinations is the suggestion that the subject is unable to see any chairs in the room when, in fact, there are several. An example of analgesia, on the other hand, is the suggestion that the subject is unable to sense pain, and the following increased threshold to noxious stimuli.

4.2.3. Post-hypnotic amnesia
Inhibiting suggestions of memory give rise to post-hypnotic amnesia, or the inability to remember one or more suggestions given to the subject during the hypnotic session once the hypnotic session has been terminated. An example of post-hypnotic amnesia is the suggestion that parts of the hypnotic session, or the hypnotic session in its entirety, never took place, and the following inability of the subject to remember this in retrospect.

Some suggestions, however, are combinations of the essential groups of hypnotic suggestions, and, thus, fall outside this primary classification. An example of these combinations is post-hypnotic suggestions, in which a facilitating or inhibiting suggestion is combined with a suggestion for post-hypnotic amnesia.





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