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No. 86: Mar-Apr 1993

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Hypnosis And Skin Temperature

The mind can affect the body in many ways. One of the most bizarre is the use of hypnosis to raise skin temperature on selected parts of the body. A recently published example of this phenomenon was observed by P. Hajek et al, at the Institute of Physiology in Prague:

"Eight patients with atopic eczema and six healthy subjects were given hypnotic suggestion to feel pain in the upper part of the back and in one case on the palm. An average local increase in skin temperature of 0.6C (detected by thermovision) occurred under this condition. For some patients, cutaneous pain threshold was increased before the experiment by means of repetitive hypnotic suggestion of analgesia. These subjects reported feeling no pain subjectively, but the local change in skin temperature was equal in both cases. The results suggest a central mechanism induced by measuring changes in pain threshold in the skin, which changes are independent of local changes in blood flow."

(Hajek, P., et al; "Increase in Cutaneous Temperature Induced by Hypnotic Suggestion of Pain," Perceptual and Motor Skills, 74:737, 1992.)

From Science Frontiers #86, MAR-APR 1993. 1993-2000 William R. Corliss