Frequently Asked Questions

regarding the scientific study of hypnosis.

[Editor's note: As you can see, this is another oldie but goodie, this time from 1993. Jouni Smed included this FAQ, converted to HTML, is his original "Altered States" web site. Unlike the dream FAQ from the same era, this one seems factually correct and up-to-date (and considerably more verbose) so I will refrain from adding editorial comments. As with the dream FAQ, you can expect email addresses to be obsolete in this historic document. --RD]

Written by Todd I. Stark in July, 1993. Other credits below.


  1. What is hypnosis? How did the various concepts of hypnosis evolve?
    1. Hypnosis arose out of an operator-assisted altered state induction model.
    2. The cultural origins of the concept of hypnosis
    3. The scientific deconstruction of hypnosis
  2. What is hypnotic trance? Does it provide unusual physical or mental capacities ?
    1. 'Trance;' descriptive or misleading?
    2. Are there potential clues in 'trance logic?'
    3. So what is trance logic?
    4. Criticism of trance logic.
    5. Trance as distinct from sleep or stupor.
    6. 'Trance Reflex' and the appearance of stupor.
    7. Evidence of enhanced functioning following suggestion?
      1. 'Mind and Body' in modern medicine.
      2. Hypermnesia, perceptual distortions, hallucinations, eidetic imagery.
      3. Posthypnotic suggestion and amnesia.
      4. Pain control (analgesia and anesthesia).
      5. Dermatological responses.
      6. Control of bleeding.
      7. Cognition and learning.
      8. Enhanced strength or dexterity.
      9. Immune Response
    8. Highly extraordinary experiences while under hypnosis.
      1. Bizarre remembrances under hypnosis
      2. Psychic phenomena under hypnosis
      3. Experiences of extraordinary personal significance
  3. How reliable are things remembered under hypnosis?
  4. Can anyone be hypnotized or only certain people? The search for the 'hypnotizability trait.'
    1. Hypnotizability
    2. The 'Fantasy Prone Personality'
    3. Can hypnotizability be modified?
  5. Can I be hypnotized against my will, or forced to do things I wouldn't ordinarily do? Hypnosis, volition, and mind control.
    1. Is the hypnotist in control of me?
    2. Voluntary vs. Involuntary
    3. Conscious vs. Unconscious
  6. What should I read to learn more ? A selected bibliography on hypnosis and related topics in science and philosophy of science.

With much appreciation to the following people who helped by providing references or particularly useful suggestions:

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