Suggestibility

Hypnosis / Self Hypnosis - discuss this most useful, and misunderstood, of therapeutic tools.

Postby Anthony Jacquin » Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:50 pm

This is the place to get deep about the facts and theories surrounding suggestion.

How do you define suggestion and suggestibility? Do you actively aim to increase suggestibility when hypnotizing?

It is not clear or agreed what suggestibility actually is. It seems to be both the indisputable variable and the factor most difficult to measure or control. Or is it? Perhaps it is very easy to control, just tough to measure.

If you have an opinion or some research on any of the things below or anything else to contribute from personal experience and observation

"What has not been agreed on is whether suggestibility is

* a permanent fixed detail of character or personality:
* a genetic or chemical psychiatric tendency:
* a precursor to or symptom of an activation of such a tendency:
* a learned skill or acquired habit:
* synonymous with the function of learning:
* a neutral, unavoidable consequence of language acquisition and empathy:
* a biased terminology provoking one to resist new externally introduced ideas or perspectives:
* a mutual symbiotic relation to the Other, such as the African conception of uBunthu or Ubuntu:
* related to the capacity of empathy and communication:
* female brain / left-brain characteristics of language-interpretation and garnering negative connotations due to (disputable) gender bias from a male-dominated scientific community:
* a matter of concordant personal taste between speaker / hypnotist and listener and listener's like of / use for speaker's ideas:
* a skill or a flaw or something neutral and universal."
Wikipedia

Best regards,

Anthony
Last edited by Anthony Jacquin on Thu Jul 15, 2010 9:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Wildcard » Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:57 am

Cool! A "suggestibility" sticky. I didnt even notice it... :)
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Postby Swoop » Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:01 pm

Time to go deeper (and deeper :P) into the theory surrounding suggestion.

Hypnosis is often defined in terms of suggestion, depending on who you talk to. A common definition of hypnosis that is thrown around a lot is 'hypnosis is a wakeful state of heightened/fixated concentration and increased suggestibility'.

When I first started out in hypnosis, I desperately wanted to know what it is about the hypnotic process that increases suggestibility.

I still haven't answered that question, because I can't even define suggestibility!

What is suggestibility? As Antony pointed out, it is very hard to define! Is it a MEASURE of an entities propensity to carry out a suggestion? If so, what is suggestion? Is it the process of influencing a persons behaviour?

Suggestions don't always work out. Maybe it would be useful to define different types of suggestions and their responses before proceeding with a discussion. I'll have a first attempt:


Negative Positive: The hypnotist suggests a behavioural/subjective experience outcome that the subject does not want wish to engage in but carries out the suggestion anyway (positive outcome for the hypnotist).

Neutral Positive: The hypnotist suggests a behavioural/phenomenological outcome that the subject is neutral toward engaging in. Following suggestion, the person carries out the suggested outcome (positive outcome for the hypnotist).

Positive Positive: The hypnotist suggests a behavioural/phenomenological outcome that the subject would probably have engaged in otherwise. Following the suggestion, the subject carries out the suggested outcome (positive outcome for the hypnotist).

Negative Negative: The hypnotist suggests a behavioural/phenomenological outcome that the subject does not want to engage in and doesn't carry out the suggestion (negative outcome for the hypnotist).

Neutral Negative: The hypnotist suggests a behavioural/phenomenological outcome that the subject is neutral toward engaging in and would have no reason to do it otherwise. Following suggestion, the subject does not carry out the suggested outcome (negative outcome for the hypnotist).

Positive Negative: The hypnotist suggests something that the subject is positive about and would probably have done otherwise. Following the suggestion, the subject does NOT carry out the suggested outcome or carries out some unrelated outcome (negative outcome for the hypnotist).

The above are all examples of SUGGESTION. In order to assess SUGGESTIBILITY, would we need to look at the degree of supposed 'difficulty' of Negative Positive suggestions carried out?
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Postby Wildcard » Wed Aug 19, 2009 11:37 am

What do you mean by "the subject is neutral toward enganging in"?

Do you mean being completely free of emotions when suggested to engage in something?

I dont think you can be completely neutral towards anything when it concerns one´s self. Doesnt every suggestion given to us...verbal or nonverbal...whether given by a hypnotist or a person on the street remind us of something in one way or another and therby create an emotional response? Even if it is so subtle that you dont notice it?
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Postby Wildcard » Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:23 am

It might take swoop a while to answer since he isnt online that often, so does anyone else have an opinion?
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Postby Swoop » Sun Aug 23, 2009 12:31 pm

Wildcard wrote:What do you mean by "the subject is neutral toward enganging in"?

Do you mean being completely free of emotions when suggested to engage in something?

I dont think you can be completely neutral towards anything when it concerns one´s self. Doesnt every suggestion given to us...verbal or nonverbal...whether given by a hypnotist or a person on the street remind us of something in one way or another and therby create an emotional response? Even if it is so subtle that you dont notice it?


Great post. I think my initial model of suggestion/response outcomes was very leaky. Thanks for identifying a hole in my model.

I guess all I wanted to do was highlight the fact that not all suggestions can be grouped together. Looking at the suggestions coming out of the 'suggestor' in isolation, they may look similar and we may find commonalities. E.g "You will......", "You feel....", "Your hand is..."

As soon as we bring in the 2nd variable, i.e. the subject, the suggestion can be classified into a variety of subtypes.



E.g.1. Hypnotists Conscious Will matches Subjects Conscious Will: The subject may already 'want' to quit smoking. The hypnotist suggests to the subject that she quit smoking.

E.g.2. Hypnotists Conscious Will does not match Subjects Conscious WIll: A detainee may not want to reveal any information about a terrorist organisation. The hypnotist suggests to the subject that she reveal that information.

The outcomes of suggestion under either scenario will be very different. The point that I would like to raise is that the 'theory of suggestion' surrounding "Negative Positive" suggestion may be completely different to that surrounding "Positive Positive" suggestion. Then again, it may not! :D
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Postby Anthony Jacquin » Mon Aug 24, 2009 7:54 am

Swoop wrote:Time to go deeper (and deeper :P) into the theory surrounding suggestion.

Hypnosis is often defined in terms of suggestion, depending on who you talk to. A common definition of hypnosis that is thrown around a lot is 'hypnosis is a wakeful state of heightened/fixated concentration and increased suggestibility'.

When I first started out in hypnosis, I desperately wanted to know what it is about the hypnotic process that increases suggestibility.

I still haven't answered that question, because I can't even define suggestibility!

What is suggestibility? As Antony pointed out, it is very hard to define! Is it a MEASURE of an entities propensity to carry out a suggestion? If so, what is suggestion? Is it the process of influencing a persons behaviour?

Suggestions don't always work out. Maybe it would be useful to define different types of suggestions and their responses before proceeding with a discussion. I'll have a first attempt:


Negative Positive: The hypnotist suggests a behavioural/subjective experience outcome that the subject does not want wish to engage in but carries out the suggestion anyway (positive outcome for the hypnotist).

Neutral Positive: The hypnotist suggests a behavioural/phenomenological outcome that the subject is neutral toward engaging in. Following suggestion, the person carries out the suggested outcome (positive outcome for the hypnotist).

Positive Positive: The hypnotist suggests a behavioural/phenomenological outcome that the subject would probably have engaged in otherwise. Following the suggestion, the subject carries out the suggested outcome (positive outcome for the hypnotist).

Negative Negative: The hypnotist suggests a behavioural/phenomenological outcome that the subject does not want to engage in and doesn't carry out the suggestion (negative outcome for the hypnotist).

Neutral Negative: The hypnotist suggests a behavioural/phenomenological outcome that the subject is neutral toward engaging in and would have no reason to do it otherwise. Following suggestion, the subject does not carry out the suggested outcome (negative outcome for the hypnotist).

Positive Negative: The hypnotist suggests something that the subject is positive about and would probably have done otherwise. Following the suggestion, the subject does NOT carry out the suggested outcome or carries out some unrelated outcome (negative outcome for the hypnotist).

The above are all examples of SUGGESTION. In order to assess SUGGESTIBILITY, would we need to look at the degree of supposed 'difficulty' of Negative Positive suggestions carried out?


Hi and thanks for your post. Lots to think about there.

I am still not clear if you are defining it as a propensity to act on a suggestion or as a process. I prefer a process based model and this process of suggestion is only complete when the post hypnotic act has commenced. How the person feels is not something I think about a great deal once hypnosis is established. That kind of bypasses the negative/positive split. I know it is established when my suggestions are being acted on.

Definitely still in a chicken and egg situation :)

Anthony
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Postby Wildcard » Mon Aug 24, 2009 11:13 am

I also see suggestibility as a process. And to me a suggestion is always a suggestion. They´re either carried out or they arent. But I do believe it has something to do with their mood.
I dont think just because someone keeps on acting out suggestions that they are highly suggestible. Or if someone doesnt act out the suggestion that they aren´t highly suggestible.
We always see that when doing hypnosis some people go under relativly fast...others not so fast...some are a natural at amnesia...others not so much.
I noticed the same thing when not doing formal hypnosis. With some people it takes a while to switch their state...with others you can change the state pretty fast.
Thats how I see suggestibility. "how fast" someone can do that. But the "how fast" is dependant upon so many factors.

Another thing that confuses me when it comes to suggestibility is...is the state someone is in when doing formal hypnosis the same as other states or is it a complety different state? I think the states are different. i think that because when some people are in hypnosis reaaly deep they dont really care what the suggestion is. They just do it. But if someone is really sad...then they dont care much for suggestions like "lighten up" or "Everything will be ok"...etc...

I also dont understand what that guy in wiki said about emotional, physical and intellectual suggestibility. Especially the intellectual part. What a bunch of crock. If someone is scared of hypnosis and I explain every step to that person then Im switching their state. Thats not intellectual...thats emotional. If someone is rational...and I explain everything...thats utilizing and not suggestibility. At least thats what I think. :lol:
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Postby Wildcard » Mon Aug 24, 2009 11:37 am

Does anyone think that expectation could be related to suggestibility in some way?
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Postby jargan » Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:18 pm

Wildcard wrote:Does anyone think that expectation could be related to suggestibility in some way?

Oh, definitely. As far as I'm concerned, suggestions are effective whenever they make sense. I am tempted to imagine it as a battle between various frames (e.g. expectation: "he's a hypnotist, he can do things that would normally be impossible", doubt: "I can't possibly forget something just because he tells me to", unwillingness: "There's no way I'm gonna do that") and the "strongest" one wins out. Making suggestions effective involves finding the frames that are at play and bending them into the right shape (e.g. increase expectation, assuage doubt, frame whatever is going to happen as an empowering thing). This is just one of the various ways I look at hypnosis, anyway.

To me, suggestions are just what the word says: ideas proposed to a subject. They are only as powerful as the work you do before you give them. The interesting thing, I guess, is that there is a cascading effect: you can use suggestions to make further suggestions more effective... but only if you're aware of how the suggestions will be processed by your subject will you be able to get a maximum of effectiveness out of them.

Suggestibility is a very subjective thing to me. I get the feeling that most of the time, hypnotists use this term to describe how accurately a subject's thinking patterns conform to the hypnotist's model of how everyone ought to function. I much prefer "I didn't manage to suggest X" over "the subject isn't suggestible enough for X". This kind of thinking seems to be much more empowering to all parties: the subject is less likely to reinforce whatever prevented him from experiencing X before, and the hypnotist is more likely to keep on refining his understanding of what he's doing.

I hope I'll never again believe that I fully understand hypnosis (or the human mind). The current state of knowing yet not knowing that I find myself in seems to keep expanding my perspective. I consider that a good thing... but I might be wrong, of course. ;)
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Postby Wildcard » Mon Aug 24, 2009 4:47 pm

"I hope I'll never again believe that I fully understand hypnosis (or the human mind). The current state of knowing yet not knowing that I find myself in seems to keep expanding my perspective. I consider that a good thing... but I might be wrong, of course. ;)"

Thats cool!
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Postby Swoop » Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:54 pm

Anthony Jacquin wrote:
Hi and thanks for your post. Lots to think about there.

I am still not clear if you are defining it as a propensity to act on a suggestion or as a process. I prefer a process based model and this process of suggestion is only complete when the post hypnotic act has commenced. How the person feels is not something I think about a great deal once hypnosis is established. That kind of bypasses the negative/positive split. I know it is established when my suggestions are being acted on.

Definitely still in a chicken and egg situation :)

Anthony


I think a process based model could be very useful. The model would look vastly different depending upon whether the subject was hypnotised or not.

Model 1: Hypnosis
Suggestion is made --> Suggestion bypasses the critical factor --> Suggestion is acted on.

Model 2: Waking state:
Suggestion is made --> Suggestion is critically assessed (e.g. how do I feel about this morally, will following the suggestion be good for me? Will following the suggestion impact on the rapport I have with this person? What am I going to eat for lunch? Etc) --> Suggestion is acted on.

Is Model 1 the sort of model you were referring to Antony? I would love to hear of some more detail as to what your working model is.

Wildcard wrote:I dont think just because someone keeps on acting out suggestions that they are highly suggestible. Or if someone doesnt act out the suggestion that they aren´t highly suggestible.


I completely agree with this. I'm starting to lean toward the view that defining suggestibility actually isn't even that useful. Better to have a model of exactly what suggestion is and the factors that make a suggestion work. Then we will have a toolkit for determining how to make someone respond to a suggestion in a given situation (i.e. make them 'suggestible' in that instance).

I think that all of this talk of some unitary trait of 'suggestibility' that apparently pervades a person's entire personality is tenuous at best.

Wildcard wrote:
I noticed the same thing when not doing formal hypnosis. With some people it takes a while to switch their state...with others you can change the state pretty fast.
Thats how I see suggestibility. "how fast" someone can do that. But the "how fast" is dependant upon so many factors.



Well observed I reckon. The 'how fast' and to what extent you can influence someones behaviour is dependant on many many many factors. So the effectiveness of a suggestion is largely dependent on things like setting, EXPECTATION, rapport level, authority levels, trance depth, emotional state, scepticism levels etc. And if this is the case, how could we label someone as not suggestible just because they don't follow a few initial suggestions? If changes in these factors OUTSIDE OF THE SUBJECTS CONTROL subsequently changes their response to a suggestion, then the whole concept of 'suggestibility' as a unitary trait is spurious. Suggestibility is not a unitary trait, it is a multivariate trait depending on the subject, the specific situation and a thousand other variables - some of which the hypnotist alters in a dynamic fashion.

Better to look at what makes a suggestion tick in a given situation, rather than get bogged down in the psychometrics of 'suggestibility' I reckon.
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Postby Wildcard » Thu Sep 10, 2009 1:48 pm

Does anyone see a connection between suggestibility and how good one can access the "reality generator" in the brain?
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Postby Swoop » Thu Sep 10, 2009 2:36 pm

Wildcard wrote:Does anyone see a connection between suggestibility and how good one can access the "reality generator" in the brain?


Can you expand on the 'reality generator'?
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Postby Wildcard » Thu Sep 10, 2009 9:14 pm

Thats going to be a tough one to explain.

The "reality generator" is what creates the realities we see when we dream at night. Since we dont get much sensory input when we sleep it relies on our memories and emotions to generate what we dream about.

When you hypnotize someone and have them hallucinate...it is also active. If you hypnotize 10 people and tell them they see a dragon...every dragon will be different because everyone has a different understanding of what a dragon is. Another example of the reality generator being active in waking state is seen in schizophrenics. They hallucinate. And their eyes even dart around as though they were dreaming in the REM state even though they are awake.

All of the phenomena that occur during dreaming you can induce when you hypnotize someone.

So if hypnosis is related to the "reality generator"...and hypnosis is related to suggestibility...wouldnt it be logical to say that suggestibilty is also related to the "reality generator"?

Or hypnosis is related to expectation...hypnosis is related to suggestibility...so suggestibility is related to expectation.

Or another example....

Dreams are related to expectation...hypnosis is related to expectation...that would mean dreams are related to hypnosis in a way....

I know...it all sounds a little far fetched...so dont take any of this seriously...loool
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