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Mysteries of hypnosis and the self are revealed by the psychology and neuroscience of empathy.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
The American journal of clinical hypnosis
Publication Date
Volume
57
Issue
3
Pages
330–348
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1080/00029157.2014.978495
PMID: 25928682
Source
Medline
Keywords
  • Dzogchen
  • Consciousness
  • Empathy
  • Hypnosis
  • Neuroscience
  • Self

Abstract

This article reviews a growing body of research and theory in hypnosis and neuroscience that supports the empathic involvement theory (EIT) of hypnosis (Wickramasekera II, 2001; Wickramasekera II & Szlyk, 2003; Wickramasekera II, 2007c). The EIT is a unified transpersonal theory of hypnosis and the self, which weaves together empathic elements of Dzogchen, neodissociative, neuroscience, psychoanalytic, sociocognitive, and other theories by proposing that hypnotic phenomena are inherently characterized by their deep involvement with processes of empathy and the self. The EIT proposes that the experience of hypnosis is embodied in a system of neural networks in the brain that utilizes empathy-related processes, adaptive resonance between perceptual input and top-down expectancies, and connectionist learning algorithms to (a) empathically enact the affect, cognition, body language, response expectancies, social roles, sensations, etc. that are presented to them during hypnosis in accordance with socio-cognitive theories of hypnosis; (b) engage in a convergent psychophysiological relationship with another person in accordance with psychoanalytic, Ericksonian, and polyvagal/social engagement system theories; (c) alter the empathic self/other (theory of mind) coding of phenomenological experiences during hypnosis in accordance with aspects of the neo-dissociative and socio-cognitive traditions; and (d) develop an experiential understanding of the illusion of self that may lead, in some people, to its transcendence in accordance with Bon-Buddhist, Dzogchen, and transpersonal scholars. A unified definition of hypnosis is proposed based on findings in the empathic neuroscience of hypnosis as well as a working model of the neuromatrix of the self.

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