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Suggestion and distraction in the control of pain: A test of two hypotheses
Journal of abnormal psychology (1984)
  • Scott W. Brown, University of Southern Maine
  • G William Farthing
  • Michael Venturino
96 18–30 yr old undergraduates, preselected for high or for low hypnotic susceptibility on the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility—Form A, reported their level of perceived pain during a 50-sec baseline immersion of their hand in ice water. In a 2nd immersion, independent groups of high and low hypnotizables (n = 12) were tested (without hypnosis) under 4 conditions: analgesia suggestion alone, verbal-distraction task alone, a combination of suggestion plus distraction, and control. Among high hypnotizables, as compared to the control group, all 3 experimental treatments were effective in reducing pain. The combination of suggestion plus distraction was no more effective than was either of the single treatments alone in reducing pain. Among low hypnotizables, only the distraction treatment was effective. Results support an attentional-diversion explanation of the effect of waking analgesia suggestions rather than a special resources hypothesis. It appears that both high and low hypnotizables can divert attention toward external stimuli, but only high hypnotizables can successfully divert attention inward to control pain. (31 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
  • suggestion,
  • distraction
Publication Date
August, 1984
Publisher Statement
The Journal of Abnormal Psychology® publishes articles on basic research and theory in the broad field of abnormal behavior, its determinants, and its correlates. The following general topics fall within its area of major focus: psychopathology—its etiology, development, symptomatology, and course; normal processes in abnormal individuals; pathological or atypical features of the behavior of normal persons; experimental studies, with human or animal subjects, relating to disordered emotional behavior or pathology; sociocultural effects on pathological processes, including the influence of gender and ethnicity; and tests of hypotheses from psychological theories that relate to abnormal behavior.
Citation Information
Scott W. Brown, G William Farthing and Michael Venturino. "Suggestion and distraction in the control of pain: A test of two hypotheses" Journal of abnormal psychology Vol. 93 Iss. 3 (1984)
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