Dissociation, repression, cognition, and voluntarism

  • Fromm E
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I wish to mention that hypnosis is a method by means of which cognitive changes can be observed, noninvasively (Holroyd, in press). Therefore, hypnosis should be of great interest to cognitive psychologists as a research tool. It can be used to investigate cognitive phenomena and experimentally prove or disprove theories in the field of cognition. It can also be utilized to study conscious as well as nonconscious and voluntary as well as nonvoluntary perceptual, thought, and emotional processes. In comparing the typical phenomena and characteristics of hypnosis with those of the waking state, one can at this point in time say that: a. In hypnosis there is more imaginary thinking. b. In hypnosis attention vacillates between concentrative and expansive. c. Ego receptivity (suggestibility) is at the heart of hypnosis. However, there also is a good deal of ego activity (decision making). d. In hypnosis memory is heightened (hypermnesia), and temporary forgetting (amnesia) can easily be induced. The “forgotten” information of hypnotic amnesia remains in the cognitive system until the dissociative barrier is removed by giving a release signal. e. Hypnosis can be used experimentally to manipulate the quantity and quality of attention in people who are hypnotizable at any level. f. Highly hypnotizable subjects do well on divided attention and divided consciousness tasks. For a review of research with hypnosis already begun or done in these areas see Holroyd (in press). Hypnosis is a method par excellence for investigating dissociation as well as different levels of consciousness. May I suggest that the utilization of hypnosis as a methodology in cognitive research may effectively broaden the scope of investigation and understanding in this field? This commentary is written out of admiration for Jack Hilgard, in the spirit of his earnest, lifelong search for scientific truth.

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Fromm, E. (1992). Dissociation, repression, cognition, and voluntarism. Consciousness and Cognition, 1(1), 40–46.

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