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Brenman, M. Gill, M. Knight, R.P. (1952). Spontaneous Fluctuations in Depth of Hypnosis and their Implications for Ego-Function. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 33:22-33.

(1952). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 33:22-33

Spontaneous Fluctuations in Depth of Hypnosis and their Implications for Ego-Function

Margaret Brenman, Ph.D., Merton Gill, M.D. and Robert P. Knight, M.D.

Early in our research, when we were investigating the possible uses of hypnosis as a 'shortcut' in psycho-analysis, we came upon a curious phenomenon, a phenomenon to which at first we paid little attention, but which gradually became one of the focal points in our inquiry into the nature of hypnosis. Anyone who has worked with hypnosis, particularly in a therapeutic setting, will probably recognize as a familiar occurrence the kind of event to which we refer: In the middle of a discussion, the patient will suddenly report a spontaneous change in his subjective experience. He may say, 'I'm going much deeper into hypnosis now', or he may say, 'I'm getting lighter; I'm coming out'.

In our zeal to inquire into the effects of introducing the hypnotic state into the ordinary course of a psycho-analysis, we at first regarded such spontaneous reports as a help if the report were 'I'm going deeper', or as a technical obstacle if it were 'I'm coming up lighter'. Often, if the latter were reported we would respond by redoubling our effort to deepen the hypnosis in order to 'get on with the business in hand'. After all, if one were to study hypnosis as an auxiliary in psycho-analysis, one had to have the patient in a hypnotic state.

It was only when our research interests began to depart somewhat from the practical-therapeutic and to become more theoretical that the phenomenon, per se, began to excite our curiosity enough to warrant a period of intensive study.

Before describing our procedure, we should like to say a few words about the methodological problems inherent in clinical research of this kind.

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