Mini-Science Q & A – The science and fad of hypnosis and other psychological phenomena

Mini-Science logo At the conclusion of each Mini-Science lecture, audience members submit their questions to the evening’s presenter, who answers as many as possible on the spot. Three of the unanswered questions are sent to the presenter for posting here. Here are questions from Dr. Amir Raz’s lecture “The science and fad of hypnosis and other psychological phenomena” (April 21, 2010).

Q: Is there anyone who absolutely cannot be hypnotized?

A: Yes. Individuals who cannot follow the session (e.g., because of insufficient command of the language, a pathological condition, or a sensory or mental handicap), extremely low hypnotizable people (i.e., people who find it extremely difficult to dissociate or imagine things), and individuals who cannot maintain their attention for long enough to engage.

Q: Would hypnosis be beneficial to the elderly who cannot cope with age related changes? How can you determine who would benefit?

A: This is a very general question and so the answer will be accordingly general. Any highly hypnotizable person, elderly or not, can benefit from hypnosis. Furthermore, even individuals who are not highly hypnotizable but are mid-range or even on the low end may potentially benefit from hypnotic procedures but with considerably lower reliability. The best way to determine is by doing. The proof is always in the pudding.

Q: Can hypnosis increase the ability to learn?

A: Not per se. Hypnosis can reduce and ameliorate some of the symptoms that may hinder and obviate learning (e.g., anxiety, competitive streak, difficult past experience). As such, indirectly, it may enhance the ability to learn.

Please visit the Mini-Science website for more information about the lecture series.

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