Fear of hypnosis: the role of labeling in patients' acceptance of behavioral interventions

Cobie S. Hendler, William H. Redd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

One hundred and five outpatient cancer chemotherapy patients were interviewed to assess their attitudes toward hypnosis and relaxation as well as to determine their beliefs in and willingness to try a behavioral procedure. Patients were randomly assigned to groups receiving identical descriptions labeled "hypnosis," "relaxation," or "passive relaxation with guided imagery." The description stressed the behavioral components of hypnosis and relaxation rather than the nonbehavioral techniques often associated with hypnosis such as age regression and posthypnotic suggestion. Patients believed hypnosis to be a powerful process that involved loss of control and altered states of consciousness. When compared with a group of college students, patients held significantly more fearful, conservative views about hypnosis. Patients who received a description of an intervention labeled "hypnosis" were significantly less likely to believe the procedure would effectively control their nausea and vomiting and were significantly less likely to state they would try the procedure than patients in the other two label conditions. This reaction to the label occurred independently of patients' degree of nausea, vomiting, and pain due to their chemotherapy treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-13
Number of pages12
JournalBehavior Therapy
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1986
Externally publishedYes

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