Tim Brunson DCH

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Posthypnotic state changes and flashbacks: analogous processes?

Careful study of the posttraumatic stress disorder and hypnosis literatures reveals some parallels between posttraumatic flashbacks and responses to posthypnotic suggestions. Highly susceptible subjects can slip into hypnosis spontaneously and accept and respond to implied or inadvertent suggestions, some of which may operate in a manner equivalent to posthypnotic suggestions. Later, exposure to appropriate cues may trigger an intrusive revivification of the hypnotic state in which the suggestion occurred. This sequence of events closely resembles the sequence of reactions that some individuals have to trauma that ultimately leads to flashbacks. Thus, flashbacks may be conceived of as intrusive posttraumatic revivifications of trauma-induced hypnosis-like states that are reactivated by trauma-reminiscent cues operating similarly to posthypnotic signals. Implications of viewing flashbacks in this way, especially if this view is supported by future research, could include significant changes in how posttraumatic stress disorder is conceptualized and treated.

J Trauma Dissociation. 2012 Oct;13(5):568-81. Lovern J. Department of Applied Social Sciences , Allan Hancock College , Santa Maria , California , USA.

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