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Social Constructionism and the Role of the Unconscious in Hypnotic Responding: A Single Case Experiment

  • David P. Fourie (a1)

There seems to be wide acceptance by both professionals and lay people that hypnotic and especially hypnotherapeutic responding is based on the long-standing but still hypothetical dichotomy between the conscious and unconscious minds. In this simplistic view, hypnotic suggestions are considered to bypass consciousness to reach the unconscious mind, there to have the intended effect. This article reports on a single-case experiment investigating the involvement of the unconscious in hypnotherapeutic responding. In this case the subject responded positively to suggestions that could not have reached the unconscious, indicating that the unconscious was not involved in such responding. An alternative view is proposed, namely that hypnotherapeutic responding involves a cognitive process in which a socially constructed new understanding of the problem behaviour and of hypnosis, based on the client's existing attribution of meaning, is followed by action considered appropriate to the new understanding and which then confirms this understanding, leading to behaviour change.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: David P. Fourie, Dept of Psychology, University of South Africa, PO Box 392, 0003 UNISA, South Africa.
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Behaviour Change
  • ISSN: 0813-4839
  • EISSN: 2049-7768
  • URL: /core/journals/behaviour-change
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