Exploration of Subjective Experiences During Hypnosis and Hypnoanalgesia


  • Pika Cvikl University of Ljubljana
  • Zoltán Kekecs Eötvös Loránd University


Hypnosis has been increasingly used as a non-pharmacological intervention for pain management (hypnoanalgesia). However, the mechanisms behind hypnoanalgesia are not yet fully understood. The current study is part of a broader research aimed at improving our understanding of the role of response expectancy in hypnoanalgesia [1]. To achieve this, the research aims to explore the expectancies and subjective experiences associated with both sham and conventional hypnosis inductions and to compare the effectiveness of suggestions for pain reduction when coupled with these inductions.

While previous research has examined the differences in behaviour between sham and conventional hypnosis, little attention has been given to the subjective experiences associated with sham hypnosis. This study seeks to fill this gap by analysing the subjective experiences reported by participants during both inductions. Descriptive data from some studies suggest that hypnotic responses elicited by sham inductions are slightly lower than those elicited by conventional inductions [2]. Although this difference is not statistically significant in most individual studies, the pattern is consistent across several studies.

During the experiment, participants were asked to report their experiences in free-text format. However, limitations of this method were identified, prompting the testing of a phenomenological interview as an alternative. The phenomenological interview is predicted to provide greater insights into the subjective experiences associated with hypnosis and to expose differences in experiences between sham and conventional hypnosis. The interview is a combination of several phenomenological approaches and is expected to provide richer and more detailed data [3]. The study's results may offer new avenues for future research on hypnosis and pain management.


[1] Z. Kekecs, Y. Farahzadi, and K. Giran, “The effects of sham hypnosis techniques—PLB HYP - OTKA Study 2,” osf.io, March 22, 2022. [Online]. Available: https://osf.io/dskby [Accessed: May 4, 2023].

[2] C. Kendrick, L. Koep, A. Johnson, W. Fisher, and G. Elkins, “Feasibility of a sham hypnosis: Empirical data and implications for randomized trials of hypnosis,” Contemporary Hypnosis & Integrative Therapy, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 317-331, 2012.

[3] F. J. Woodard, “Phenomenological contributions to understanding hypnosis: review of the literature,” Psychological Reports, vol. 93, no. 3, pp. 829-847, 2003.