A comparison of authoritarian and permissive techniques used in hypnosis

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Coyle, Robert Burns
Church, Jay K.
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Thesis (D. Ed.)
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The purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of two techniques of hypnotic induction and hypnotic suggestion, an authoritarian and a permissive technique. Using an authoritarian technique, the hypnotic induction and suggestions were worded in such a manner as to declare that physical events are actually occurring. For instance, the hypnotist might say, "Now, you are on a mountain...." In contrast, the permissive hypnotic induction and suggestions were worded in such a way as to ask the subject to use his or her imagination to make the suggestion happen. For instance, the permissive hypnotist might say, "Now, picture yourself on a mountain...." This study evaluated which of these techniques of hypnosis would be perceived by the subject as being more similar to reality.Two hundred six undergraduate students enrolled in educational psychology courses were randomly assigned to two treatment groups. Each group received a hypnotic induction and ten hypnotic suggestions that were worded in either an authoritarian or a permissive manner. Authoritarian and permissive conditions of hypnotic susceptibility were compared by means of a t test. The personality variables of absorption, inter- personal trust and attitudes toward hypnosis were tested for correlation with both authoritarian and permissive conditions of hypnosis. A multiple regression analysis was also performed between the three personality variables named above and the conditions of hypnosis.The findings suggest that the' permissive technique of hypnosis was rated by subjects as being more like reality. The use of the authoritarian technique of producing hypnotic susceptibility resulted in higher correlations than did the permissive technique. All personality variables were significantly and positively correlated to authoritarian hypnotic susceptibility. Only absorption was significantly and positively correlated to permissive hypnotic susceptibility.In the multiple regression analysis, both absorption and interpersonal trust contributed uniquely toward predicting authoritarian hypnotic susceptibility. Only absorption contributed uniquely toward predicting permissive hypnotic susceptibility.These findings suggest that the effectiveness of the authoritarian technique appears to be dependent on personality variables that a given subject may possess, while the permissive technique of hypnosis will be more effective with most subjects, without consideration of their personality characteristics.