"The Hypnotic Brain" by Peter Brown

The Hypnotic Brain Hypnotherapy and Social Communication Peter Brown

Publication date:
23 Oct 1991
Yale University Press
336 pages: 235 x 156mm
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Hypnosis has recently experienced a surge of popularity in the scientific community and the general public and is currently being used to deal with a wide range of disorders. IN this elegantly written book, Dr. Peter Brown draws on the latest developments in cognitive psychology, anthropology, ethnology, and neuroscience to offer a new explanation for how hypnosis works and how it can be applied.


Brown argues that the ability to hypnotized and be hypnotized is closely related to brain functions that are uniquely human—especially to our ability to communicate with others. He begins by looking at the way communication has evolved, especially our use of facial expression and the tonal aspects of speech to synchronize interactions. These features were particularly important for the transmission of culture in oral societies before the advent of writing. He next considers the changes the brain undergoes during hypnosis, proposing that hypnotherapy can be understood as the interaction between two fundamental brain functions: the rhythmic alteration in level of consciousness that the brain undergoes throughout the course of the day, and the capacity to use metaphor, imagery, and analogy to understand ourselves and the world. Brown discusses some of the clinical uses of hypnotherapy, in particular the exploration of multiple personality disorder (which can be characterized as spontaneous self-hypnosis as a means of coping with trauma) and the role of hypnosis in treating medical illness. In his final chapter he deals with how language may be used in hypnotherapy, with examples from the work of eth late Milton Erickson, one of the most influential clinicians and teacher sin contemporary hypnosis.

"A lucid book that integrates basic cognitive and neurophysiological processes with hypnotic events. The author is a fascinating storyteller, thereby demonstrating what he is elucidating?the usefulness of language and story to entrance, entertain, and instruct."?Burness Moore, M.D., Emory University School of Medicine

"Peter Brown's The Hypnotic Brain sets a new standard of excellence in synthesizing the humanities, arts, and sciences for a new understanding of Mind, Brain, and Behavior. It's that rare sort of book that is a jolly good read for the general reader as well as the professional scholar."?Ernest Rossi

"A fascinating account of the key role of social communication in evolution of Mind and Brain. Carefully researched and documented, it offers complex ideas in authoritative yet comfortably readable form. The author's view of the hypnotic state as a naturally occurring phase in everyday rhythmic alterations in level of consciousness serves to demystify hypnosis and its therapeutic potential."?Morton F. Reiser, M.D., Albert E. Kent Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Yale University

"An important book that provides an insightful integration of basic neuroscientific and clinical material. It informs as it entertains and entertains as it informs. Makes a major contribution."?Dr. Richard Friedman, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University

"Brown reaches deeply into the history of culture, communication theory, the arts, psychoanalysis, and biology to paint a new panorama of the human condition. . . . Brown has a deft and literate touch. . . . The relevance of rhyme and rhythm, music and metaphor, art and ability, poetry, problems, personality, and physiology to our evolving social states, consciousness, and being are all integrated in a meaningful manner that can be appreciated by the general public as well as the professional."?Ernest Lawrence Rossi, Psychological Perspectives

"Brown's writing is excellent. . . . An exhaustive reference list and helpful index add to the usefulness of this valuable work."?Choice

"This is, in many ways, a remarkable book,"?Ernest R. Hilgard, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

"The author's style is entrancing; he is a skillful storyteller who integrates material from diverse areas. . . . This remarkable book is essential for the serious student of hypnosis."?Karen L. Lombardi, Readings: A Journal of Reviews and Commentary in Mental Health

"A thoughtful, well-written, and extremely well-edited book . . . that can be warmly recommended to all who wish to gain an overview of the field of social communication in general or hypnosis in particular. It is not an "easy read" but well worth the effort. The 57 pages of references alone make the book a valuable acquisition for serious students of the field."?Alexander A. Levitan, M.D., M.P.H., JAMA

"In this interesting book the reader will find a harmonious synthesis of research in apparently unrelated subjects to explain the mechanisms underlying hypnosis. . . . I recommend it to any physician interested in the theoretical and research aspects of this fascinating subject."?Luis V.M. Huapaya, M.D., FRCPC, Canadian Medical Association Journal

"A well-considered, well-researched, and wonderfully readable book. . . . The author writes in an engaging and entertaining style as he integrates material from diverse areas. This book should be considered must reading for the serious student of hypnosis."?Stanley A. Tsigounis, Transactional Analysis Journal