Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Anomalous Cognition in Hypnagogic State with OBE Induction: An Experimental Study

Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Anomalous Cognition in Hypnagogic State with OBE Induction: An Experimental Study

Article excerpt

Among the so-called altered states of consciousness, hypnosis is considered one of the psi-favorable states. In his review of the physical, physiological, and psychological psi-favorable conditions, William Braud (2002) considered the relaxed condition that accompanies it as well as the increased tendencies toward creative imagination, suggestibility, absorption, dissociation, and a cognitive style that combines psychological components favouring the capacity to experience a whole range of ESP phenomena (Braud, Wood, & Braud, 1975; Gertz, 1983; Rose, Hogan, & Blackmore, 1997; Schacter & Kelly, 1975). More specifically, hypnagogic/ hypnopompic imagery has been associated with reports of ESP, apparitions, communication with the dead, and out-of-body experiences (OBEs) (Glicksohn, 1989; Mavromatis & Richardson, 1984; Palmer & Lieberman, 1975). For a review of the anomalous cognitive processes associated with hypnagogic/hypnopompic imagery, see Sherwood (2002).

Alvarado's (1998) complete historical review of the relationship between ESP and altered states of consciousness presents the rise and fall of interest by parapsychological researchers in the role of hypnosis as a favourable condition for ESP. In 1969, Honorton and Krippner reviewed the existent literature and found that in 9 out of 12 studies in which the hypnotic condition was compared to a nonhypnotic condition, hypnosis yielded better results.

Stanford and Stein (1994) reviewed by means of a meta-analysis the literature investigating ESP using hypnosis from 1945 up to 1993. The main result drawn from 25 studies, 23 of which used forced-choice tasks, revealed an effect size [pi] = .524 (SD = .035), corresponding to a z score of 8.77 for hypnosis, compared to an effect size [pi] = .505 (SD = .031) in the control conditions, corresponding to a z score of .34 (MCE = .50).

This revision not only gives evidence that the hypnotic state is a promising mental state for ESP investigation comparable to the ganzfeld condition but also precisely analyzes flaws presented in the studies, such as agent and receiver in the same room, target knowledge by the experimenters, inappropriate scoring registration, shuffling instead of proper randomization, and lack of balance between the control and the experimental conditions.

Our experiment was an attempt to enhance the hit score in the hypnagogic state by eliminating all potential flaws and considering some new moderators not examined before.

As first potential moderators, we considered absorption (Tellegen, 1981; Tellegen & Atkinson, 1974) and transliminality (Lange, Thalbourne, Houran, & Storm, 2000; Thalbourne, 2000) two personality characteristics previously associated with ESP performance. Although Talbourne (1998) obtained a Rho = .72 correlation between the two scales, they are not measuring identical personality and experiential characteristics, so we decided to use them both.

Both scales have been used to explore paranormal experiences and paranormal capacity (i.e., Thalbourne, 1996, 2004). The transliminality scale, for example, comprises 14% of the items related to paranormal experiences. A significant positive correlation between transliminality scores and performance in telepathic transmission of emotional states was obtained by Sanders, Thalbourne, and Delin (2000) whereas highly transliminal participants were significantly more likely to score a hit in a psi experiment using the I Ching (Storm & Thalbourne, 1999).

Absorption scores correlate with OBEs (Dalton, Zingrone, & Alvarado, 1999) and anomalous experiences (Kennedy, Kanthamani, & Palmer, 1994) as well as with hypnotizability (Glisky, Tataryn, Tobias, Kihlstrom, & McConkey, 1991). For these reasons we decided to select participants according to their scores on these scales.

As described in the Methods section, all participants filled out the two scales and were selected as participants if their score in at least one scale was equal to or above a cutoff point. …

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