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Fisher, C. (1951). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 20:340-341.

(1951). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 20:340-341

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

Charles Fisher

November 22, 1950. SPONTANEOUS FLUCTUATIONS IN DEPTH OF HYPNOSIS AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS FOR EGO FUNCTIONS. Margaret Brenman, Ph.D. In collaboration with Merton Gill, M.D. and Robert P. Knight. M.D.

This investigation was concerned with the spontaneous fluctuations in the depth of hypnosis occurring during hypnoanalysis. The hypothesis was advanced that changes in depth of hypnosis occurred when there was evidence that an existing impulse-defense balance was being threatened with accompanying indices of conflict and anxiety. This threat to the existing balance might occur either as the result of an upsurge of a passive need or as the result of a hostile wish which was insufficiently defended against. The patient dealt with the resultant anxiety by a change in depth which represented an attempt either to gratify the impulse, to defend against it, or both. A method of validating the hypothesis by having independent observers judge the records 'blind' was described. The results of these independent judgments supported the hypothesis as at least a necessary condition for a fluctuation in depth of hypnosis in the test situation. The paper dealt further with the clarification of indices of a disrupted equilibrium as against the indices of an ego in a stable impulse-defense balance. The authors felt that their findings suggested that the hypnotic state involved not only the expression of instinctual impulses but the defense against them. They discussed the relationship of all of the above to some of the more general problems of ego functioning, particularly that of rapidly changing ego states with increase and decrease in regression.

Dr. Bertram D. Lewin discussed the relationship between hypnosis, dreams and sleep and suggested that sleep is an ego function and may be used as a defense. Dr. Lawrence S. Kubie questioned the meaning of 'fluctuation in depth', and suggested that better controls and more elaborate techniques were needed to study these fluctuations. He discussed the critical factor in the production of the hypnotic state in terms of an alteration of ego boundaries between subject and hypnotist. Dr. Rudolph M.

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