The Science of Consciousness:

Chapter 14: Hypnosis

What this chapter is about: What is hypnosis, is there a hypnotic state, and how does hypnosis work?

What happens when people are hypnotised? Is the hypnotic trance a special state of consciousness? What is Hildegard's "hidden observer" model of hypnosis? Or are researchers like Spanos correct and hypnosis all just a form of social compliance?


For the Spiegel eye roll test for hypnotisability, see:

Hypnotic suggestions

There are broadly four types of hypnotic suggestion: motor actions, response inhibition, and cognitive distortions, and long-term health benefits.


Farthing, W. (1992). The psychology of consciousness. Prentice-Hall

Oakley, D., Halligan, P. Hypnotic suggestion: opportunities for cognitive neuroscience. (2013). Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 14, 565–576.

Is hypnosis a special state?

From the excellent Warren (2008) Head trip,

"In 1875, Heidenhain watched his hypnotized younger brother knocking back a bottle of ink after being told it was beer, put his hand into a flame without showibng dscomfort, "and with scissors so unmercifully cut off his whiskers he had asiduously cultivated for a year, that on awakening he was greatly enraged". Heidenhain changed his mind [about hypnosis being a real state].

Egner, T., Jamieson, G., & Gruzelier, J. (2005). Hypnosis decouples cognitive control from conflict monitoring processes of the frontal lobe. NeuroImage, 27(4), 969–978.