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August 1974

Trance Capacity and the Genesis of Phobic Behavior

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, and the Psychiatric Service, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;31(2):261-263. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760140103019

Several authors have reported increased effectiveness in the therapy of phobic behavior when hypnosis is combined with the treatment, or when it is used as the vehicle for treatments such as suggestion, desensitization, or insight-oriented psychotherapy.

The knowledge that marked hypnotizability can contribute to the production of unusual clinical syndromes encourages the investigation into how smaller degrees of hypnotic capacity could be responsible for the production of other symptoms, such as phobic behavior. In traditional psychodynamic terms, it is suggested that the trance or hypnotic experience is invoked spontaneously as a defense mechanism against intolerable anxiety, and the accompanying social situation, or important aspects of it are then perceived in a distorted fashion. In behaviorist terms, this is then learned and reinforced by repeated perceptually distorted experiences.

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