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Stewart, H. (1963). A Comment on the Psychodynamics of the Hypnotic State. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 44:372-374.

(1963). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 44:372-374

A Comment on the Psychodynamics of the Hypnotic State

Harold Stewart

Until recently, the principal psycho-analytical ideas of the hypnotic state were those put forward by Freud and Ferenczi, both of whom had had experience in using hypnotic techniques as a therapeutic procedure before turning to those of analysis. To recapitulate them very briefly: hypnosis was regarded as a masochistic identification with, and surrender to, a loved or feared person representing a projected parental imago for the hypnotized subject, the essence of the relationship being an unconscious erotic tie between subject and hypnotist on a regressed oedipal level.

In their 1952 paper, Brenman, gill and Knight put forward the hypothesis '… that the hypnotic state involves not only the gratification of pregenital and oedipal needs but also a constantly changing balance between such needs, experiences of hostility, and defences against both these sets of instinctual impulses'. Here the authors mention the experiences of hostility of the hypnotized subject, and it is this aspect of the relationship that I wish to enlarge upon in this paper.

For some time before coming to psycho-analysis I had used hypnotherapy on patients, and for a period, I tried to amalgamate the two approaches. The patient would be hypnotized, and from the outset asked to free-associate while in the hypnotic trance. The associations would then be interpreted in terms of the transference-relationship between patient and hypnotist, and, almost invariably, I noticed that interpretations of hostility on the part of the patient towards the hypnotist would cause a considerable lightening of the trance state, and eventually that the patient could no longer be hypnotized.

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