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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 January 2022

Is hypnotic responding the strategic relinquishment of metacognition?

Is hypnotic responding the strategic relinquishment of metacognition?

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

Zoltán Dienes

Oxford University Press

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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