Behavior: Questioning Hypnosis

Dark legends of hypnotic spells are as old as sorcerers. Yet today, many reputable psychologists argue that hypnotism is a powerful and useful tool for probing the inner mysteries of man's mind. Dentists use hypnotism as an anaesthetic, and psychologists profess to cure everything from smoking to homosexuality by putting their subjects in a trance. But what is hypnosis?

Suggestion. Largely a put-on, claims Theodore Xenophon Barber, 43, director of psychological research at Massachusetts' Medfield State Hospital. "Since no test has been able to demonstrate the existence of the hypnotic state, there is no reason to assume that there is such...

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