The term hypnosis is often used to refer to a variety of structured, goaloriented procedures in which it is contended that the suggestibility and/or motivation of an individual or a group is enhanced by another person (or persons), by a mechanical device, by a conducive environment, or by oneself. These procedures attempt to blur, focus, and/or amplify attention and/or mentation (e.g., imagination, intention) leading to the accomplishment of specified behaviors or experiences. In both psychology and parapsychology, hypnotic phenomena had escaped the behaviorists' purge of subjective experience. The Nobel-prize-winning physiologist Charles Richet (1889), the first to apply statistics to ESP experiments, also pioneered the study of hypnosis and psi. In one instance, a subject was asked to observe Richet's laboratory at a distance while hypnotized; she is said to have observed a fire that had broken out just before the hypnotic session began. During another hypnosis session, she was asked to describe the behavior of one of Richet's colleagues at a distance. Reportedly, the subject described an accident in which he burned his hand with a chemical about the time that the event actualy was taking place.
The first systematic study involving hypnosis was reported in 1945 (Grela, 1945); 11 subjects were assigned to a hypnosis group and 10 to a waking suggestion group. ESP guessing tasks were completed by the hypnosis group in three conditions: a non-hypnosis ESP attempt, hypnotic induction with positive suggestions aimed at instilling belief and confidence in ESP, and hypnotic induction with negative suggestions. The waking suggestion subjects were given positive instructions. For the hypnosis group, the difference between the positive and negative suggestion conditions was statistically sign)ficant. Chance results were obtained in the waking condition and by the subjects given waking suggestions.
Charles Honorton (1972) joined our group at Maimonides Medical Center in the late 1960s and continued his work with hypnosis and clairvoyance. One of his approaches was to instruct his hypnotized subjects to have a dreamlike experience about a picture in a sealed envelope. In one of his studies, a subject reported a vivid hypnotic dream:
A room with party decorations....I saw a gold chest, like a pirate's chest, but shining and new. The party decorations were colorful. No decorations on the floor; they were on the ceiling and walls. There was a table with things on it. Red balloons, red punch bowls.
The target picture in the sealed envelope randomly selected for this session was Hiroshige's painting, The Kinryuszan Temple which portrays a red and gold ceremonial lantern hanging down from a temple doorway. Indeed, the subject's associations to the dream, recorded before she knew the target picture's identity, were of her 16th birthday party at which her parents had constructed party decorations of Japanese lanterns.