From _The Arizona Skeptic_, vol. 5, no. 1, July/August 1991, pp. 6-7. Copyright (c) 1991 b

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From _The Arizona Skeptic_, vol. 5, no. 1, July/August 1991, pp. 6-7. Copyright (c) 1991 by the Phoenix Skeptics. Book Review _They Call It Hypnosis_ by Robert A. Baker 1990, Prometheus Books, 313pp. Reviewed by Jim Lippard Robert Baker has written an entertaining and useful book for those interested in the facts about hypnosis. While he argues for a particular interpretation of hypnosis (the social-psychological interpretation favored by researchers such as Spanos, Barber, and others), he also presents numerous other interpretations which have been offered. On the question of whether hypnosis is a special state of consciousness or not, Baker comes down firmly (and rightly, in my opinion) on the side of the non-state theorists. This is a position which contradicts popular culture's view of hypnosis, which is how Baker begins his book. He gives examples from literature and the mass media of what hypnosis is, and then shows how and why they are mistaken. Baker's book then gives a history of the concept of hypnosis and a summary of contemporary views. An entire chapter is devoted to hypnosis and pain. The book deals with nearly every major issue in hypnotic behavior, though there were a number of subjects which I thought could have been dealt with in more detail. For example, Baker maintains that "hypnotized" individuals will not do anything they would not ordinarily do. To explain such cases as experiments in which subjects threw acid at the face of an experimenter (who was actually shielded by glass), Baker maintains that in such cases the subject knows that the experimenter is taking responsibility for his behavior and assumes that nothing will really go wrong (pp. 49, 154). This explanation, however, doesn't work for cases such as two legal cases from Germany described in Leo Katz's book _Bad Acts and Guilty Minds_ (1987, University of Chicago Press, pp. 128-133). Katz describes cases where unethical hypnotists induced patients to give them large sums of money, commit crimes, and attempt murder and suicide. It is perhaps because of cases like this that the Model Penal Code (MPC) lists "conduct during hypnosis or resulting from hypnotic suggestion" as behaviors which are "not voluntary acts." When I asked Baker about these cases, he found the MPC definition unreasonable and stated that if the descriptions in Katz's book were correct, the people were effectively using the hypnosis as an excuse for behavior in which they would have engaged anyway. (It is worth noting that the alleged hypnosis-induced murder attempts were stopped by the subject at the last minute rather than failing for chance reasons, and that Katz himself (p. 133) warns that the accounts are questionable for the same reason Baker gave me.) This explanation, however, does not seem to be subject to scientific examination. Another story that appears to lend credence to the idea that hypnosis can result in loss of voluntary control is found in Richard Feynman's autobiography, _Surely You're Joking_, Mr. Feynman (1985, W.W. Norton, pp. 53-55). Feynman describes volunteering to be hypnotized by a stage hypnotist while a graduate student at Princeton. He mentions doing things he "couldn't normally do" (a statement Baker does a good job of falsifying) and being given the suggestion to walk all the way around the room rather than returning to his seat directly. Feynman decided to try to resist the suggestion, without success. The social-psychological interpretation would state that this is simply due to social pressures, not to any magical power of hypnosis. Baker maintains in his book that there are no differences in the EEGs of hypnotized versus non-hypnotized individuals, however David Spiegel of Stanford University, a hypnosis researcher, maintains otherwise (e.g., Spiegel, Cutcomb, Ren, and Pribram 1985). (Nicholas Spanos, in his author's response to commentary by Spiegel citing this research (1986, p. 492), argues that Spiegel has misinterpreted his data given the nature of the control subjects used.) It would have been nice to at least have seen some acknowledgment of disagreement on this subject, but Spiegel is not even mentioned. Another peculiarity of Baker's position on hypnosis was pointed out by Stanford hypnosis researcher Ernest Hilgard at the session on hypnosis at the 1991 CSICOP conference in Berkeley, California. Hilgard noted that Baker rejects the usefulness of hypnotic susceptibility scales ("To my dismay I soon discovered this sort of screening was of no value ... Neither I nor my fellow researchers found the tests to be discriminatory. ... we found that nearly all of our subjects scored almost exactly alike--near the top--on the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scales, forms A, B, and C," p. 35). Hilgard stated that Baker's position is contrary to that of not only state theorists, but to non-state theorists like Nicholas Spanos. (Indeed, Spanos presented data at the same conference which made use of differential results on hypnotic susceptibility scales.) Finally, the book is somewhat marred by a large number of typographical errors which should have been caught by an editor. These include not only misspellings (like "Hildgard" for "Hilgard" on p. 107), but disagreement in number between verb and subject ("Barber's own personal experiences with pain has led him to be able to control it," p. 100) and other mistakes. I must say, however, that despite these minor flaws, this remains one of the best books on the subject of hypnosis I have read. I recommend it highly. References Spanos, N. (1986) "Hypnotic Behavior: A Social-Psychological Interpretation of Amnesia, Analgesia, and 'Trance Logic'." _Behavioral and Brain Sciences_ 9:449-502. Spiegel, D., Cutcomb, S., Ren, C., and Pribram, K. (1985) "Hypnotic Hallucination Alters Evoked Potentials," _Journal of Abnormal Psychology_ 94:249-255. From _The Arizona Skeptic_ vol. 5, no. 2, September/October 1991, p. 7. Copyright (c) 1991 by the Phoenix Skeptics. Hypnosis and Free Will By Jim Lippard Most hypnosis researchers maintain that hypnotized persons cannot be induced to do anything contrary to their own personal moral code. At least one article in the scientific literature denies this claim (Loyd W. Rowland, "Will Hypnotized Persons Try To Harm Themselves or Others?", _Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology_ 34(1939):114-117, described in William Corliss' _The Unfathomed Mind: A Handbook of Unusual Mental Phenomena_, pp. 120- 123). These experiments involved subjects sticking their hands into a box containing a rattlesnake (which was actually fake) or throwing acid into the face of an experimenter (who was behind an unseen panel of glass). A possible rejoinder to this experiment is the same as a criticism made of Stanley Milgram's "obedience to authority" experiments, where subjects believed they were assisting in a psychological experiment by giving painful electric shocks to another test subject (actually a simulating assistant of the experimenter). The response is to say that the experimental situation was one in which the subject had complete trust in the experimenter and put all responsibility into his hands. But is there any reason to believe that this effect is limited to the experimental laboratory? There are also, however, a number of reported cases of criminal actions being performed by hypnotized persons. For example, Leo Katz's book _Bad Acts and Guilty Minds_ (1987, University of Chicago Press, pp. 128-133) describes legal cases from Germany where unethical hypnotists induced patients to give them large sums of money, commit crimes, and attempt murder and suicide (the latter two failed). One response to this is to claim that the defendants were simply using hypnosis as an excuse to avoid prosecution, that they wouldn't have done what they did if they had not already been predisposed to do so (this response, like the one above to the experiments, is made by Robert A. Baker- -see my review of his book _They Call It Hypnosis_, in _The Arizona Skeptic_, July/August 1991). The latest issue of the _Fortean Times_ (#58, July 1991) reports the prosecution of a 57-year-old man, Nelson Nelson, who sexually assaulted at least 113 women, preceded by hypnosis. In Michael Goss' article, "The Eyes Have It," he reports that most of the women assaulted by Nelson over a 25-year period did not report it and were only discovered because Nelson kept a diary of his exploits. The only source cited for this, however, is "daily papers for 2 May 1991." No newspapers, no locations are cited (the author lives in Essex, England). Goss also reports a psychiatrist, Clifford Salter, whose medical license was revoked in 1982 for abusing women under hypnosis. (Again, no sources, and the details are too sketchy to know whether hypnosis really played a significant role at all. After all, Salter was allegedly caught.) From _The Arizona Skeptic_ vol. 5, no. 4, January/February 1992, pp. 2-4. Copyright (c) 1992 by the Phoenix Skeptics. Comments on Lippard's Review of _They Call It Hypnosis_ By Robert A. Baker As I tried to make clear in my book, _They Call It Hypnosis_, nearly everything about the concept of "hypnosis"* is controversial. My primary motive in writing the book was to provide the general public with a solid path of reliable information through a veritable wilderness of claims and counterclaims. Just about everything possible and impossible has been claimed about hypnosis. For example, people claimed one could hypnotize people behind their backs when they were unaware, one could hypnotize people via ESP or over the telephone, people can be kept in a trance for seven years or more, and so on and so on. In the past, most practitioners of Mesmerism sincerely believed that hypnosis gave people supernatural powers, i.e., made them clairvoyant, provided them with ESP powers, enabled them to communicate with the dead and discarnate spirits, etc. All such occult claims have been shown again and again to be unfounded and either delusionary or fraudulent or the result of human error. [* In Baker's manuscript, every occurrence of this term in all its forms appears in quotation marks, and he notes that he has done so "to indicate that no such phenomenon exists." I have omitted them throughout the rest of the article simply to conserve space. --Editor] With regard to several of the issues that Lippard felt should have been dealt with in more detail let me add a few clarifying remarks. First, with regard to the issue of controlling hypnotized people or having them carry out behavior of any sort or criminal acts against their will--time and again carefully controlled experiments have shown that the so-called "hypnotized" individual will not do anything he or she would not do when they are wide awake. Every ardent young male in the country wishes this weren't true. Think about it. All one would have to do is learn hypnosis and then he could have his way with all the girls. Fortunately for the ladies, this can't be done. No young lady is going to surrender under hypnosis any more readily than she would surrender if she were wide awake. If she wants to surrender then she can, of course, use hypnosis as a handy rationalization. The most convincing proof, however, of the fact that people who are hypnotized are not robots or automatons under the control of the hypnotist comes from the efforts of the CIA, who carried out over a decade of research to determine if it was possible to create a "Manchurian Candidate"--i.e., to use hypnosis to program a man to turn, after the appropriate signal, into a mindless robot killer. All of the CIA's efforts proved to be impossible and, as reported by Thomas (1989), some of their efforts resembled a Marx Brothers' comedy. Hoping to create a "sleeper-killer" who would be used to assassinate Castro, the CIA recruited several Cuban refugees from Miami and selected one who appeared to the hypnotic experts as the "ideal" subject. After days of careful programming and implanting the secret word in the subject's unconscious while under hypnosis, the day of the final test arrived. According to the program, when the Cuban heard the key word in the presence of Fidel this would cause him to draw his weapon and shoot the dictator. To test the training the hypnotist ordered the Cuban to imagine he was at Castro's side. Then the hypnotist uttered the key word. Nothing happened. The hypnotist tried again and again nothing happened. Finally the hypnotist gave up and brought the Cuban out of the trance. Once more the hypnotist uttered the secret word--"cigar." This time the man looked at the hypnotist blankly and said, "No thanks, I don't smoke." Unfortunately, despite the CIA fiasco, the legend of the Manchurian Candidate refuses to die. As for the matter of Spiegel's findings of differences in the brain waves of hypnotized and non-hypnotized individuals (1985), to my knowledge these results have not been replicated since. Moreover, David Spiegel and his father are strong proponents of the "state" theory and both support the notion that hypnotizability is a hereditary trait and that an S's ability to roll his eyeballs is a clue to his hypnotizability. Spiegel has also argued that specific and unique EEG changes accompany the personality shifts in MPD** patients and suggests that the secondary personalities in MPD cases are biologically independent of each other as well as psychologically independent. It should be remembered, however, that no EEG differences could be found between the three personalities in _The Three Faces of Eve_ (Thigpen and Cleckley, 1957). Of even greater interest is the curious fact that EEG changes can be produced by people _simulating_ multiple personality (Coons, Milstein, and Marley, 1982) which, again, suggests the social-cognitive role-playing nature of many MPD disorders as well as so-called "hypnosis." Most experts in the EEG area have concluded that no differences in EEG patterns can be found between the hypnotized and unhypnotized states. In the words of Negley-Parker (1986), "There is the possibility that differences between the brain waves of the hypnotized and 'awake' subjects are too subtle to be picked up by the relatively crude measurements of the electroencephalogram, but the available evidence indicates that brain waves are practically the same in hypnosis or out of it." (p. 9) [** Multiple Personality Disorder. --Editor] This conclusion is also shared by Paul Davies (1988) in his review of the available evidence at the time. We should remember, however, that hypnosis does correlate with relaxation and that relaxation _per se_ can produce a number of marked physiological and EEG changes. We must never forget that the EEG is still--even today--a very crude and unreliable tool. Further, we must also remember that experimenter bias and expectation is such that we usually pretty much find whatever it is we are looking for. Until additional replications of Spiegel's work appear, I remain quite skeptical and am certainly inclined to agree with Spanos on his point that Spiegel has misread his data. As for the issue of hypnotic susceptibility tests, I am not alone in finding them of limited usefulness and with little or no predictive validity, i.e., they do not predict who is and who is not hypnotizable. Some individuals who have scored very low on the Stanford scales proved to be some of my best hypnotic subjects. What the Stanford and other scales measure is not hypnotizability per se but compliance and suggestibility, e.g., raising and lowering of an arm, eye closure, swaying, etc., which are components of but not the total of the social situation we call hypnosis. Response expectancies play a major and important role in the hypnotic situation as well as motivation. No matter what their score on a hypnotic susceptibility scale, people who have a strong need to be hypnotized in order to gain some end such as losing weight or stopping smoking will prove to be ideal subjects in the clinic. Because most clinical patients can easily be hypnotized in much less time than one could administer any of the susceptibility tests, few clinicians bother with them (Cohen, 1986). Moreover, even if the tests showed the client was at the bottom of the scale, the clinician would still be forced to find some way of successfully hypnotizing his patient. If one method doesn't work, the skilled clinician uses another technique. And, as all of them know, there are few--if any--unhypnotizable clients. If you want to use a test, one of the simplest as well as quickest of all and one that has as much predictive validity as any of the standard ones is this: approach the client, smile, and stick out your hand. If the client takes it and shakes it, he or she is socially conditioned to respond to your subsequent request to relax, close their eyes, and focus on the internal imagery your suggestions provide. This is all hypnosis is and I have yet to meet the human being incapable of doing this. In other words: everyone is hypnotizable if they wish to be and no one is hypnotizable if they don't want to be. This is an easily observable fact, despite what any and all experts may claim. Finally, in Cohen's words, Although there may be some positive correlation between hypnotizability and certain therapeutic gains, the reverse does not hold true. That is, there is no indication that low hypnotizability means that a given individual will not respond therapeutically. In my opinion, this is the major reason that most clinicians do not use the tests...I know of no clinician, including those who have developed or espoused tests, who would advocate withholding hypnosis from a patient simply because he or she scored low on a hypnotizability test. (p. 97) References Baker, Robert A. (1990) _They Call It Hypnosis_. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. Cohen, Sheldon (1986) "Clinical Usefulness of Hypnotizability Tests," in _Hypnosis: Questions and Answers_, ed. by Bernie Zilbergeld, M.G. Edelstein, and Daniel Araoz, N.Y.: W.W. Norton and Co. Coons, Philip, Milstein, Victor, and Marley, Carma (1982) "EEG Studies of Two Multiple Personalities and a Control," _Arch. Gen. Psychiatry_ 39:823-825. Davies, Paul (1988) "Some Considerations of the Physiological Effect of Hypnosis," in _Hypnosis: Current Clinical, Experimental, and Forensic Practices_, ed. by M. Heap, London: Croom Helm. Lippard, Jim (1991) "Book Review: _They Call It Hypnosis_ by Robert A. Baker," _The Arizona Skeptic_ 5(July/August):6-7. Negley-Parker, Esther (1986) "Physiological Correlates and Effects of Hypnosis," in _Hypnosis: Questions and Answers_, op. cit. Spanos, Nicholas (1986) "Hypnotic Behavior: A Social Psychological Interpretation of Amnesia, Analgesia, and 'Trance Logic'," _Behavioral and Brain Sciences_ 9:449-502. Spiegel, David, Cutcomb, S., Ren, C., and Pribram, K. (1985) "Hypnotic Hallucination Alters Evoked Potentials," _Journal of Abnormal Psychology_ 94:249-255. Thigpen, Corbett H. and Cleckley, Hervey M. (1957) _The Three Faces of Eve_. N.Y.: McGraw-Hill. Thomas, Gordon (1989) _Journey into Madness: The True Story of Secret CIA Mind Control and Medical Abuse_. N.Y.: Bantam Books. _Robert A. Baker has taught psychology at Stanford, MIT, and the University of Kentucky. He is the author of_ They Call It Hypnosis _and (forthcoming)_ Hidden Memories: Voices and Visions from Within_, both from Prometheus Books._ _The Arizona Skeptic_ may be obtained via subscription for $12.50/year from the Phoenix Skeptics, P.O. Box 62792, Phoenix, AZ 85082-2792. It may also be obtained free of charge via download from GEnie's PSI-NET Round Table (library area 11), from the Cleveland Freenet, or by email from Issues available in this format are vol. 5 nos. 1-6 and vol. 6 nos. 1-3. Also available is an index to all issues (vols. 1-6), by author and by subject (about 62K, most of which is the subject index). The following is an (incomplete) bibliography from a dormant work- in-progress titled "Hypnosis, Voluntary Acts, and the Law." Baker, Robert A. (1990) They Call It Hypnosis. Prometheus Books. Barber, Theodore X. (1961) "Antisocial and Criminal Acts Induced by Hypnosis: A Review of Experimental and Clinical Findings," Archives of General Psychiatry 5:301-312. Barber, Theodore X., Spanos, Nicholas P., and Chaves, John F. (1974) Hypnosis, Imagination, and Human Potentialities. Pergamon. Coe, XX (1977) "XXX," Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 296:x-y. Feynman, Richard (1985) "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character. W.W. Norton. Goss, Michael (1991) "The Eyes Have It," Fortean Times #58(July):36. Hilgard, Ernest R. (1977) Divided Consciousness: Multiple Controls in Human Thought and Action. John Wiley & Sons. Hoencamp, Erik (1990) "Sexual Abuse and the Abuse of Hypnosis in the Therapeutic Relationship," International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 38:283-297. Katz, Leo (1987) Bad Acts and Guilty Minds: Conundrums of the Criminal Law. University of Chicago Press. Levitt, Eugene E. (1977) "Research Strategies in Evaluating the Coercive Power of Hypnosis," Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 296:86-89. Levitt, Eugene E., Baker, Elgan L., Jr., and Fish, Ronald C. (1990) "Some Conditions of Compliance and Resistance Among Hypnotic Subjects," American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 32(April):225-236. Marks, John (1979) The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate": The CIA and Mind Control. Times Books. Milgram, Stanley (1974) Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View. Harper & Row. Orne, Martin T. (1972) "Can A Hypnotized Subject Be Compelled To Carry Out Otherwise Unacceptable Behavior? A Discussion," International Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 20:101-117. Orne, Martin T. and Evans, Frederick J. (1965) "Social Control in the Psychological Experiment: Antisocial Behavior and Hypnosis," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1:189-200. Rowland, Loyd W. (1939) "Will Hypnotized Persons Try To Harm Themselves or Others?" Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 34:114-117. Spanos, Nicholas P. (1986a) "Hypnotic Behavior: A Social- Psychological Interpretation of Amnesia, Analgesia, and 'Trance Logic'," Behavioral and Brain Sciences 9:449-502. --- (1986b) "Hypnosis, Nonvolitional Responding and Multiple Personality: A Social Psychological Analysis," in Brendan A. Maher and Winifred B. Maher (editors), Progress in Experimental Personality Research, vol. 14, pp. 1-62. Academic Press. Thomas, Gordon (1989) Journey into Madness: The True Story of Secret CIA Mind Control and Medical Abuse. N.Y.: Bantam. Wells, P.C. (1954) "Antisocial Uses of Hypnosis," in L.M. LeCron (editor), Experimental Hypnosis, pp. 376-409. Macmillan. Jim Lippard Lippard@CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU Dept. of Philosophy Lippard@ARIZVMS.BITNET University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 85721


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