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Greenwald, H. (1961). Use of Hypnosis to Investigate Resistance. Psychoanal. Rev., 48C(3):116-120.

(1961). Psychoanalytic Review, 48C(3):116-120


Use of Hypnosis to Investigate Resistance

Harold Greenwald, Ph.D.

In common with many psychoanalysts, I had long suffered from what I now feel is an irrational prejudice against hypnosis in any of its ramifications in connection with psychotherapy. Perhaps it was due, in part, to exposure to vaudeville hypnotists, the exaggerated and fantastic claims of miracle cures accomplished with hypnosis, and the slightly disdainful expression which came over the faces of most of my professional colleagues when the word hypnosis was mentioned. I know that I, too, shared in this disdain. It was sometimes difficult to reconcile this disdain with the recognition that Freud, 1, himself, had once employed hypnosis even through he later turned away from it because he found it impractical in a certain number of cases and also boring, 2 and that such outstanding and respected analysts as Lewis Wolberg, 3 Laurence Kubie 4 and Robert Lindner, 5 had found the use of hypnosis valuable adjuncts to psychoanalysis.

In addition to the problem of respectability, I also had serious theoretical objections to hypnosis as an aid in psychotherapy. My own orientation has been increasingly to place major emphasis in my therapeutic endeavors to the study of resistance. Note that I say the study, rather than the elimination of resistance. Hypnosis has traditionally been used in hypnoanalysis for the extirpation of resistance, rather than for its study. This has been one of the most telling arguments leveled against the use of hypnoanalysis since it was difficult to study resistance in its absence.

About two years ago, however, I was invited to participate in a project which involved the use of hypnosis for the purposes of the research. I therefore attended two courses on the subject and started to read the literature on hypnosis.

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