Understanding Hypnosis  –
Theory, Scope and Potential

a review -

"...as a research specialist in the psychology and psychophysiology of hypnosis, I can state unequivocally that Dr. Alfred Barrios has synthesized much useful research data under an interesting and useful theory of hypnosis.  His theory, which subsumes hypnosis under the principles of conditioning and inhibition, should be included in forthcoming texts as one of the significant twentieth-century theories of hypnosis."   Theodore X. Barber, Ph.D.

contents -

Part I - Introduction

  • Hypnotherapy: A Reappraisal
  • Overview of Dr. Barrios's Theory of Hypnosis
  • Comparison with Other Theories
  • Support for the Theory
  • Methodological Shortcomings of Many Hypnosis Experiments and How to Prevent Them

Part II - Benefits of the Theory

  • How the Theory Leads to Further Understanding of a Number of Areas: The Hallucinogens, Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar Disorder, Biofeedback, Learning Theory, and the Placebo Effect
  • How the Theory Also Leads to Natural Explanations for Religious Phenomena
  • Developing More Effective Methods of Hypnotic Induction and Post-Hypnotic Suggestion
  • The Development of Self-Programmed Control and Its Positive Application in Education, Welfare, Medicine, Industry and Drug Rehabilitation
  • Conclusions

description -

The book presents a comprehensive Theory of Hypnosis, one that encompasses and may even surpass all previous theories. It is a rational scientific explanation of hypnosis that explains the hypnotic induction process as well as hypnotic and post-hypnotic phenomena in terms of principles of conditioning and inhibition. It points out that such a rational explanation of hypnosis is badly needed to eliminate the many misconceptions that have plagued it for so long and thus to help open the field to both professionals and lay people so that its full potential can be tapped.

The Theory is compared with three other current theories of hypnosis:  the Sociocognitive, the Dissociation/Neo-Dissociation, and the Response-Expectancy perspectives. Contrary to implication of the Sociocognitive and Response-Expectancy theories, the book makes clear that there are major differences between the waking and hypnotic state, that hypnotic induction leads to major increases in suggestibility.

Indicating the scope of the Theory, the book shows that it:

  • explains the behavioral and therapeutic effects of hallucinogenic drugs;

  • provides an explanation and possible cure for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder;

  • provides a further understanding of the learning process, especially higher-order and sentence conditioning;

  • provides a two-tiered explanation of the placebo effect;

  • points out that biofeedback is another form of hypnotic induction; and even

  • presents scientific explanation and support for such religious phenomena as free will, overnight "born again" transformations, exorcisms, the power of prayer, and faith healing.

In addition to its wide scope, this Theory of Hypnosis has led to the development of more effective methods of hypnotic induction as well as to more effective methods of giving post-hypnotic suggestions. This, in turn, led to the development of Self-Programmed Control (SPC) – a positively oriented self-improvement program that produces self-actualization, greater self-efficacy and higher emotional intelligence. The dramatic positive results of SPC’s application in the areas of education, welfare, industry, medicine and drug rehabilitation are presented. (For example, in education, SPC reduced the school dropout rate in one study from 56% to 16%.)

Finally, to exhibit the benefits of hypnosis, the book presents a review of the literature, showing how much more effective hypnotherapy is than other forms of therapy: The average success rate for hypnotherapy was found to be 93% after only 6 sessions, compared to 72% after 22 sessions for behavior therapy and 38% after 600 sessions for psychoanalysis.

A major theme of the book is that hypnosis facilitates change – one of its greatest benefits. People find that it's difficult to change even when they want to change, and that they do not have as much free will as they had imagined. In reality, most people are actually automatons, governed by – and slaves to – the automatic (i.e. subconscious) behavior that has been programmed into them throughout their lives. So one of the major benefits of properly applied hypnosis (such as SPC) is to facilitate one's re-programming for positive change.

Such innovators as Maslow (self-actualization), Bandura (self-efficacy), Goleman (emotional intelligence), and Seligman (positive psychology) have pointed the way towards achieving greater happiness and fulfillment. But while pointing the way is important, it is not enough. This book shows that it is hypnosis that can provide the all-important missing link – the means to achieve all the needed positive changes.

(back to top)