I över hundra år har vissa skeptiker trott att personer i hypnos bara spelar med i hypnotisören begäran om inlevelse i vissa föreställningar enkom för att tillfredsställa denne. Detta gäller även en del klienter som inte förstått vad hypnos egentliga är utan trott att de i princip skulle vara okontaktbara  och ”borta!  Dessa gamla föreställningar om hypnos – och det finns mängder av dem – slaktas nu en efter en i takt med att hypnosen nu undersöks med hjälp av nyare vetenskapliga metoder. 2011 visade t.ex. forskare vid Skövde Högskola att hypnos verkligen är ett eget tillstånd skilt från vanlig vakenhet. Artikeln nedan publicerades redan 2002 i The Times men är fortfarande aktuell och intressant.

Hypnosis really does turn red into white

The Times. Monday February 18th, 2002.

Mark Henderson at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Boston, reports on sceptics mesmerised, spreading waistlines and mouthwash that lasts.

Scientists have shown that hypnosis produces clear changes in the brain, the first conclusive proof that the practice works. Brain scans have revealed beyond doubt that people who are hypnotized are not simply humouring their interviewers but they see the world differently while in a trance.

The findings offer evidence that hypnosis has biological as well as psychological effects, confounding the sceptics who believe that the technique is little more that acting or role-playing. They also support the use of hypnosis as a medical tool for treating pain and other disorders.

David Spiegel, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Stanford University in California, who led the study, said that opinions on hypnosis could no longer be a question of belief. “There is faith and belief, and then there’s science,” he said. “This is scientific evidence that something unusual happens in the brain that doesn’t happen ordinarily. There’s been a whole school of argument that hypnotism is nothing more than an exaggerated form of social compliance. This is evidence that people are not just telling you what they think you want to hear.- they are actually perceiving things differently. “Their brains are functioning as though their perception was actually changed during hypnotic suggestion. That’s very important and it’s not something we can do ordinarily.”

While it is now clear that hypnosis works, it does not work for everyone: about a third of the population are resistant to being hypnotized, while about one in ten is highly suggestible and particularly easy to be put into a trance.

In the study, details of which were presented yesterday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference, Professor Spiegel’s team used a scanning technique called positron emission tomography (PET) to examine the brains of eight people who had been hypnotized.

The volunteers, all of whom were highly hypnotizable, were shown a coloured grid similar to a Mondrian painting and were asked to imagine the colour draining from the picture to leave only black and white. The PET scans, which measure blood flow and activity in the brain, showed that the subjects started to see the image in black and white. Blood flow and activity were noticableably reduced in the parts of the brain that deal with the perception of colour, while the areas that process grey-scale images were stimulated.

When the experiment was reversed, with the hypnotised subjects asked to see a grey-scale grid in colour, the scientists saw similar results: the PET scans showed a clear stimulation in the colour centre of the brain, even though the image was black and white. “Under hypnosis, believing is seeing.” Professor Speigel said. “When people believe there is a colour in the picture, their brains process the colour even if it isn’t there. They are not just telling you what you want to hear: the way their brains respond to the information is actually being changed.”

He added: “Hypnosis has been something like the oldest profession: everyone is interested in it but no one wants to be seen in public with it.” Sceptics often contended that people who claimed to have been hypnotised were in fact acting. That view has always been difficult to rebut, even in the face of evidence about the medical benefits of hypnosis: it is argued that such benefits as the well-documented capacity of hypnosis to relieve pain are due the placebo effect and distraction from pain stimuli.

The new research gives the lie to that school of thought, proving that hypnosis has a clear physiological effect.