Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

The Jungle of Hypnotic Psi: Part 2. Research on Relationships between Psi and hypnosis/La Jungle Du Psi Hypnotique: Deuxieme Partie. la Recherche Sur Les Relations Entre le Psi et l'hypnose/Der Dschungel Des Hypnotischen Psi: Teil 2. Forschungen Zu Beziehungen Zwischen Psi Und hypnose/La Selva Hipnotica De Psi: Parte 2. Investigacion Sobre Las Relaciones Entre Psi E Hipnosis

Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

The Jungle of Hypnotic Psi: Part 2. Research on Relationships between Psi and hypnosis/La Jungle Du Psi Hypnotique: Deuxieme Partie. la Recherche Sur Les Relations Entre le Psi et l'hypnose/Der Dschungel Des Hypnotischen Psi: Teil 2. Forschungen Zu Beziehungen Zwischen Psi Und hypnose/La Selva Hipnotica De Psi: Parte 2. Investigacion Sobre Las Relaciones Entre Psi E Hipnosis

Article excerpt

In the first paper, it became clear that Rhine's assertion that hypnosis is a jungle of variables appears to be well-founded. The review of the 60-year dispute concerning whether or not the hypnotic state exists gave little prospect of penetrating the issues with these variables in the quest to find a psi-conducive state. It is proposed here that we now critically examine the actual attempts to make progress. This involves looking at the mainstream approaches within parapsychology and hypnosis research (or in jungle symbolism, trying to find a main stream through the jungle) and then reviewing the contemporary attempt to re-track approaches using clues left from the history of hypnosis in the belief that some important leads have been missed.

The Stagnated "Main Stream"

A major mainstream approach in the scientific development of parapsychology involves the focus of process research on finding significant correlations of psychological tests with psi scores. In contrast with the correlational approach, the original attraction of hypnotic induction and of the emergent ganzfeld methodology was the promise of discovering functional relationships. The ideal is that you do something to the participant and the result will be seen clearly in the scores of the psi test. With the ganzfeld. this "something" was hypothesized at various times to enable a state of "noise reduction" or a radical shift in the state of consciousness (Parker, 1994, 2000). Another apparent functional relationship was the presence of target-related imagery that appeared to be synchronously or even causally linked to the occurrence of specific imagery in the film clip. Even unexpectedly changing the sender seemed to evoke an appropriate response in the receiver in the form of an apparent surprise: "Where have you been?" (Parker, Persson, & Haller, 2000).

The supposed psi-conducive state could be measured simply by requiring participants to respond to taped instructions with numerical ratings during every 10 min of ganzfeld stimulation (Parker, Millar, & Beloff, 1976) but this proved disturbing and seemed to result in significant psi-missing scores (Parker, 1975). While postsession questionnaires are now often employed, these obviously lack precision in identifying the state or change in state associated with the correct imagery. Future research might employ more sophisticated nonverbal methods such as button-pressing, which could be used to directly assess the state at the actual time of the potential psi experience.

Historically, the ganzfeld technique grew out of the need to specify and lift out the most functional aspects of hypnosis and dream research as regards psi-conduciveness. The search for a specific hypnotic psi-conducive state has another history, and it is one which has led hypnosis research into uniting with the correlational approach. As a result, hypnotic psi research has encountered some of the hazards of the correlational approach that now need to be described.

In Part 1, research was reviewed showing how it is misleading to avoid the debate over whether the hypnotic state exists or not, because it has led to the rather naive assumption that this state empowers causal effects above and beyond what could be achieved by manipulations of individual variables in the waking state. Even assuming hypnosis is a special state, it appears rather clear from the reviewed research that this state is not a unitary one but is heavily influenced by a multitude of variables that intercorrelate.

There is a further serious and potentially fatal weakness in pursuing psi in the correlational way. This is the risk of falling into the quagmire formed by correlating amorphous sets of error variance. Tests of psi seldom give an effect beyond 10% of the error variance, and many psychological tests are anything but pure measures of what they claim to measure. Moreover, the correlations of psi scores with external variables such as hypnotizability rarely, if ever, account for more than 20% of the shared variance. …

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