Hypnotism: An Objective Study in Suggestibility

Hypnotism: An Objective Study in Suggestibility

Hypnotism: An Objective Study in Suggestibility

Hypnotism: An Objective Study in Suggestibility

Excerpt

To students and workers in the field of suggestibility in general, and of hypnotism in particular, the year 1933 represents an important landmark. In that year, C. L. Hull published his now classical study Hypnosis and Suggestibility: an Experimental Approach. This work may be said to have been the first large-scale authoritative integration of scientific data obtained from careful investigations of hypnotic and allied phenomena.

This is not to say that before the publication of the above-mentioned work no scientific reports were available. It is rather that well-organized or well-designed experiments were rare and scattered. The spirit of investigation nevertheless can be found as far back as Mesmer who attempted to formulate a scientific theory of animal magnetism. The majority of individuals whose names have come down to us in the field of hypnotism appear to have been genuinely interested in finding out what it was they were working with. Furthermore, among these men were unquestionably professional individuals of high integrity, as well as trained observers and thinkers. Yet, extensive as may have been the reports and investigations of such individuals as J. Milne Bramwell, or H. Bernheim, and great as may have been their reputations, it is nevertheless true that what they have handed down to us is most unsatisfactory insofar as establishing empirical proofs and constructing theories are concerned. At best we can get from their records only an over-all picture of the various aspects that suggestibility phenomena may assume, but we cannot tell how much is real and how much is mere appearance or artifact.

Of course, we should realize that many of the tools available to the modern psychologist were not known in the early days of hypnotism. Indeed, most of the methodology of psychology was as yet undeveloped. Furthermore, the majority of the early investigators were physicians who, for the most part, were far more concerned with hypnotism as a therapeutic agent than as a subject of academic interest. Those who did have the inclination and found the time to do research were . . .

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