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May 1957

A Working Hypothesis as to the Nature of Hypnosis

Author Affiliations

Melbourne, Australia

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1957;77(5):549-555. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1957.02330350115018

For half a century and more there has been a great deal written on the description of hypnotic phenomena. Since the last world war, techniques in hypnoanalysis have been described and hypnosis has become a means in helping the patient to insight. Nevertheless, there has been a conspicuous dearth of significant papers relating to the nature of hypnosis itself.

It is assumed that the real nature of hypnosis is at present unknown. This paper is offered as a working hypothesis. If it should prove untenable, it may still serve a useful purpose in diverting attention from the description of hypnotic phenomena to further inquiry as to the essential nature of the hypnotic state.

Past Theories of Hypnosis  A very significant feature of the past theories of hypnosis is that each has seemed to explain very well some particular aspect of the hypnotic state. This even applies to Mesmer's theory of

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