Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Dale M Brethower

Second Advisor

Dr. Jim Kaye

Third Advisor

Dr. Malcolm Roberstson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Galen Alessi


This study assessed the effects of a problem-solving suggestion as compared with an imagery-based suggestion on analgesic responding in subjects scoring in the low, medium, and high ranges on scales of hypnotizability. Subjects were exposed at separate intervals to either an hypnotic suggestion patter containing specific imagery designed to enhance analgesic performance, or alternatively to a suggestion patter that provided only general problem-solving direction, but contained no specific imaginal guidance. Performance was assessed using two duration measures on a cold-pressor test. Specific measures included both the total time duration a subject held the target hand in cold water (tolerance) as well as the time elapsed between introducing the hand into the cold water before the subjective report of pain was signaled (threshold). Each subject was exposed, in a crossover design, to each experimental condition. In addition to each subject serving as her own control, a separate control group was used to examine the effects of repeated introduction of the hand into ice water.

The imagery-based suggestion showed an increase in both threshold and tolerance of noxious stimulation only in the subjects scoring in the low range on the scale of hypnotizability, and then only when given first in sequence. The imagery suggestion was ineffective in increasing threshold and tolerance times for the subjects scoring in the medium and high ranges on the scale of hypnotizability. With respect to the problem-solving suggestion, no differential effects were detected in performance on the cold-pressor apparatus for any of the subjects.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access