InterJournal Complex Systems, 541
Status: Accepted
Manuscript Number: [541]
Submission Date: 20502
Measuring Hypnosis: Relating the Subjective Experience to Systematic Physiological Changes
Author(s): Solomon Diamond ,Robert Howe

Subject(s): CX.32

Category: Article


A fundamental challenge in hypnosis research is to quantitatively assess hypnotic depth. Because a subject's subjective experience during hypnosis cannot be measured directly, researchers must rely on subjective methods to assess hypnotic depth. Prior evidence exists that systematic physiological changes during hypnosis may be reflected in heart rate variability (HRV). A novel method is presented for estimating HRV parameters that change dynamically on the time scale of seconds. The estimated parameters are combined into a single normalized HRV dynamic parameter (nHRVdp). This parameter was found to increase systematically across 10 subjects during the hypnotic experimental condition when compared with a commensurate control condition (p<0.000001). Significant correlations were found between the number of subjective hypnotic phenomena experienced by subjects and mean nHRVdp (p=0.043). Dynamic self-rating of hypnotic depth during hypnosis was also found to correlate significantly with nHRVdp (p=0.0497). These results suggest that an ECG monitor together with the proposed algorithm can objectively measure hypnotic depth. This "hypnometer" could have broad applications in both clinical hypnosis and research settings. The algorithm used may lead to better understand of the physiology of the hypnotic state.

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