Mindfulness and Hypnosis are Very Different

Mindfulness and Hypnosis are Very Different


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“Mindfulness meditation has already achieved a level of credibility, popularity and acceptance by public and professional communities that the fields of hetero-hypnosis and self-hypnosis can currently only hope to aspire towards.” – Adam Eason


On the surface there would appear to be similarities between hypnosis and mindfulness practice. Each involves focused attention, harness concentration, and induce relaxation. The two procedures have been used for the same problems, pain, stress, anxiety, and depression. It is possible, then, that hypnosis and mindfulness share similar mechanisms and effects. Unfortunately, there have not been direct comparisons. In addition, little is known about the relationship between individuals’ hypnotizability, the ease with which they enter into a hypnotic state, and their mindfulness. If there is great overlap between the two practices, then it would be expected that hypnotizability and mindfulness would be highly related.


In today’s Research News article “The Association Between Mindfulness and Hypnotizability: Clinical and Theoretical Implications.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6263151/ ), Grover and colleagues examined the relationship between hypnotizability and mindfulness. They recruited military veterans with chronic pain conditions and asked them to complete paper and pencil measures of mindfulness, hypnotizability, and pain. Regression analysis was then performed to ascertain the relationships between the variables.


They found that the relationships between hypnotizability and mindfulness, including the 5 facets of mindfulness were very weak. Only in the cases of the observe and non-reacting facets of mindfulness were there very small, albeit significant, negative relationships with hypnotizability, such that the higher the levels of these two mindfulness facets the lower the levels of hypnotizability.


The study is correlational, so no conclusions regarding causation are warranted. In addition, the sample of military veterans with chronic pain conditions is not representative of the general population. So, it is unknown if similar results would be found in other groups. Nevertheless, the results are clear that in this sample there are little, if any, relationships between hypnotizability and mindfulness. This suggests that the two are unrelated. As such, they probably do not share similar mechanisms. This further suggests that since they are unrelated, they may supplement each others’ benefits. Future research will be necessary to test this notion.


So, it appears that mindfulness and hypnosis are very different.


Mindfulness and Hypnosis? They are different — and they are not.” – Rick Miller


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch


Study Summary


Grover, M. P., Jensen, M. P., Patterson, D. R., Gertz, K. J., & Day, M. A. (2018). The Association Between Mindfulness and Hypnotizability: Clinical and Theoretical Implications. The American journal of clinical hypnosis, 61(1), 4-17.



Mindfulness-based interventions and hypnosis are efficacious treatments for addressing a large number of psychological and physical conditions, including chronic pain. However, there continues to be debate surrounding the relative uniqueness of the theorized mechanisms of these treatments – reflected by measures of mindfulness facets and hypnotizability – with some concern that there may be so much overlap as to make the mechanism constructs (and therefore the respective interventions) redundant. Given these considerations, the primary aim of the current study was to examine the degree of unique versus shared variance between two common measures of mindfulness facets and hypnotizability: the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) and the Stanford Hypnotic Clinical Scale (SHCS). A cross-sectional survey was conducted with a sample of N=154 Veterans with heterogeneous chronic pain conditions. Bivariate Pearson correlations were used to examine the associations between the target scales. Results showed that the correlations between the FFMQ scales and SHCS total score were uniformly weak, although significant negative correlations were found between mindfulness facets of observe and non-react with hypnotizability (ps < .05). Thus, not only are the mindfulness and hypnotizability constructs unique, but when significantly associated, hypnotic suggestibility corresponds with a tendency to be less mindful. These findings have important implications for future research aimed towards matching patients to the treatment most likely to be of benefit, and suggest that matching patients on the basis of these theoretically derived “unique” moderators may hold potential.



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