Glazed, staring eyes are the key to demonstrating that hypnosis is a scientific reality, argues a team of Scandinavian researchers that recently published the results of a new study demonstrating that the state actually exists
The concept of hypnosis has been introduced in the Western world for over 250 years, and yet no one has been able to demonstrate it as real or fake until now. The multidisciplinary group of experts that cracked the mystery featured scientists from Finland and Sweden.
The team emphasizes that previous investigations on the nature or validity of hypnosis only focused on the mental aspects of the condition. Yet, very little attention was given to the physical symptoms associated with the state.
One of the reasons why this oversight occurred could be that the physical symptoms are only apparent in hypnotized people. Still, for many years, one of the trademark indicators that someone has entered this state is the fact that the individuals have a glazed, wide-open look in their eyes.
In order for the team to be sure that its results are accurate, researchers only used a single participant in their study. This patient could be hypnotized extremely easily, by using a one-word cue, PsychCentral
reports. This is the way the man had been conditioned to respond to this word.
As such, the team had an ability that other scientists did not – the ability to toggle their patient in and out of the hypnosis state in a matter of seconds. The subject's eyes were tracked using high-resolution eye-tracking methodology.
In addition, the scientists also subjected the patient to an oculomotor task that always triggers an automatic eye behavior response in people. This technique was applied while the patient was in the hypnotized state. The team detected no movement during the dedicated tasks.
According to vision experts, a non-hypnotized participant cannot imitate this state, since the oculomotor tasks are created such that they elicit an innate, uncontrollable response. What this implies is that hypnosis is not a state of mind that occurs during consciousness, as some researchers suggested.
If proven correct, these results could have significant implications for the fields of psychology and cognitive neurosciences, the team believes. This work represents the first new conscious state of mind to be detected in humans in hundreds of years.