Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Michael R. Nash

Committee Members

Jacob J. Levy, Garriy Shteynberg

Abstract

The distinction between primary and secondary process mentation is an important part of the psychoanalytic model of cognitive functioning. Primary processes are most characteristic of unconscious thought, loose associations, dreams, and reverie; and secondary processes predominate during the waking, conscious life of most mature adults and are characterized by logical thinking and planning. It has been theorized that one characteristic of the hypnotic state is that it facilitates an increase in primary process mentation. The present study tests this theory using a recently developed, brief, and nonverbal measure of primary process mentation: the GeoCat. Specifically, the current study tests the degree of primary process mentation in highly hypnotizable participants in a hypnotized state as compared with highly hypnotizable participants in a non-hypnotized control condition. I hypothesized that, in accordance with theory, highly hypnotizable participants would evidence more primary process mentation as measured by the GeoCat during hypnosis than in a resting control condition. The hypothesis was confirmed, thus providing additional evidence of construct validity for the GeoCat and further support for the psychoanalytic theories of thinking and hypnosis.

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