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Foundations of Metacognition$
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Michael J. Beran, Johannes Brandl, Josef Perner, and Joëlle Proust

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199646739

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199646739.001.0001

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Is hypnotic responding the strategic relinquishment of metacognition?

Is hypnotic responding the strategic relinquishment of metacognition?

Chapter:
(p.267) Chapter 16 Is hypnotic responding the strategic relinquishment of metacognition?
Source:
Foundations of Metacognition
Author(s):

Zoltán Dienes

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199646739.003.0017

According to the ‘cold control theory’ of Dienes and Perner (2007) hypnotic responding is intimately linked to metacognition. Specifically, we proposed that what makes a hypnotic response hypnotic is the intentional performance of a (physical or mental) action while having inaccurate higher-order thoughts to the effect that one was not intending the action. That is, the essence of hypnosis is a strategic lack of metacognition. This chapter explores this idea in three ways. First, the chapter argues that individual differences in first-order abilities, e.g. ability to attend to the world or inhibit information, are unrelated to hypnotizability; however, the tendency to be aware of one’s mental states while performing a simple task is related to hypnotizability. Second, the chapter argues that impairing the brain region involved in metacognition (specifically the brain region involved in maintaining accurate higher-order thoughts) enhances hypnotizability. Third, the chapter argues that hypnotized subjects have no abilities they don’t have anyway; the essence of hypnosis is not the existence of any first-order abilities but the fact one‘s actions feel involuntary. Overcoming pain seems a counter-example, but debatably, the only quality that hypnosis adds to one’s ability to overcome pain is the feeling that the pain goes away by itself.

Keywords:   metacognition, hypnosis, self-ascription, cold control theory, higher-order thought, neural substrates, hallucination, mental action

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