In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Hypnosis

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • Handbooks and Texts
  • Research Reference Works
  • Applied Reference Works
  • Journals
  • Societies
  • Historical Background
  • Definitions
  • Perspectives on the Altered State Debate
  • Myths and Misconceptions
  • Inductions and Suggestions
  • Self-Hypnosis
  • Forensic Hypnosis

Psychology Hypnosis
Steven Jay Lynn, Liam Condon, Michelle C. Accardi-Ravid, Colleen Cleere, Anne Malaktaris, Jaime Benjamin
  • LAST REVIEWED: 25 October 2012
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 October 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0032


From the days of Franz Mesmer (b. 1734–d. 1815) to the present, the seemingly profound alterations in consciousness that accompany hypnosis have fascinated the public, scientists, and professional practitioners. Hypnosis has attracted the attention of renowned scholars of human behavior, including Sigmund Freud, Alfred Binet, William James, Wilhelm Wundt, Clark Hull, and Ernest R. Hilgard. Today, hypnosis is firmly entrenched in the mainstream of scientific inquiry and clinical practice. Yet, as the scholarly works cited in this bibliography will make plain, hypnosis continues to be surrounded by controversy in the scientific community, while at the same time basic facts about hypnosis that counter prevalent cultural misconceptions are widely agreed upon by empirically minded scientists and practitioners. Indeed, hypnosis can serve as a valuable adjunct to psychotherapy, and conventional reviews and meta-analyses indicate that hypnosis can catalyze a variety of psychotherapies, ranging from psychodynamic to cognitive-behavioral. This bibliography will point readers to the best sources of general information about hypnosis at an introductory and advanced level; it will acquaint readers with influential theories of hypnosis, lively debates in the field about the definition of hypnosis, and the debate about whether hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness; and it will review the evidential base of hypnotherapy, which each decade grows more impressive. Readers will also be able to use the bibliography as a springboard to learning about the basics of assessing hypnotic responsiveness and administering hypnotic inductions and suggestions; major psychotherapeutic approaches associated with hypnosis; the latest evidence derived from neuroscience related to hypnotic phenomena, which clearly indicates that hypnotic suggestions are genuinely experienced by participants and have psychophysiological concomitants; the uses of hypnosis as an analogue to understanding basic psychological and clinical phenomena; and the controversial use of hypnosis in the forensic arena, associated with questions about the reliability of hypnotically elicited testimony. In short, the study of hypnosis provides a remarkable window into the mysteries and intricacies of human consciousness, shedding light on the role of expectancies, imaginings, suggestion, attention, and psychophysiological processes in shaping experience and action.

Introductory Works

The concise introductions to hypnosis cited in this section are accessible to a wide audience. Bowers 1983 is still timely, addressing whether hypnotic effects are genuine, hypnotic suggestibility, the correlates of hypnotizability, and clinical applications. Yapko 1995 covers suggestibility, subjective experiences and hypnotic phenomena, patterns of inductions and communications, self-hypnosis, and clinical applications. Alladin 2007 approaches hypnotherapy from a scientific perspective. Baker 1990 provides one of the most skeptical yet fascinating introductions to hypnosis, Nash 2001 offers up basic facts about hypnosis, McConkey 2008 explores why the field has evolved in modern times the way it has, and the influential article Hilgard 1973 specifies the widely agreed-upon domain of hypnosis, revisited by Kihlstrom 2008. In addition, Hilgard 1975 (cited under Research Reference Works) and Kihlstrom 1985 (cited under Definitions) are valuable introductory works.

  • Alladin, Assen. 2007. Hypnotherapy explained. Oxford, UK: Radcliffe.

    Presents theory and research to introduce the potential benefits of integrating hypnosis methods into medical and psychological/psychiatric practice.

  • Baker, Robert A. 1990. They call it hypnosis. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus.

    Written with humor and verve, with an interesting discussion of stage hypnosis.

  • Bowers, Kenneth S. 1983. Hypnosis for the seriously curious. New York: W. W. Norton.

    One of the best overall introductions to hypnosis, written by a prolific scientist with expertise in clinical hypnosis. First published in 1976 (Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole).

  • Hilgard, Ernest R. 1973. The domain of hypnosis: With some comments on alternative paradigms. American Psychologist 48 (November): 972–982.

    DOI: 10.1037/h0035452

    More academic than the other works in this section, this describes common topics (e.g., primary suggestibility, individual differences, subjective reports) that hypnosis researchers study and that define the “domain of hypnosis.”

  • Kihlstrom, John F. 2008. The domain of hypnosis, revisited. In The Oxford handbook of hypnosis: Theory, research, and practice. Edited by Michael Nash and Amanda Barnier, 21–52. New York: Oxford.

    Revisits the domain of hypnosis with a probing description of hypnosis in terms of the process, hypnotist, subject, suggestions, imaginative experiences, and subjective, altered experiences.

  • McConkey, Kevin. 2008. Generations and landscapes of hypnosis: Questions we’ve asked, questions we should ask. In The Oxford handbook of hypnosis: Theory, research, and practice. Edited by Michael Nash and Amanda Barnier, 53–77. New York: Oxford.

    Excellent introduction to important questions in the field of hypnosis, illustrating the landscape of hypnosis with examples drawn from Australian research and scholarship.

  • Nash, Michael R. 2001. The truth and hype of hypnosis. Scientific American 285:46–55.

    DOI: 10.1038/scientificamerican0701-46

    Readable article provides a science-based introduction to basic information about hypnosis; “busts” fifteen popular myths about hypnosis.

  • Yapko, Michael D. 1995. Essentials of hypnosis. New York: Brunner and Mazel.

    The author is a highly respected clinician and strong proponent of integrating science and practice; covers basic research, theory, and practice.

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