A Laboratory Analogue of Mirrored-Self Misidentification Delusion: The Role of Hypnosis, Suggestion, and Demand Characteristics

Abstract

Mirrored-self misidentification is the delusional belief that one’s own reflection in the mirror is a stranger. In two experiments, we tested the ability of hypnotic suggestion to model this condition. In Experiment 1, we compared two suggestions based on either the delusion’s surface features (seeing a stranger in the mirror) or underlying processes (impaired face processing). Fifty-two high hypnotisable participants received one of these suggestions either with hypnosis or without in a wake control. In Experiment 2, we examined the extent to which social cues and role-playing could account for participants’ behaviour by comparing the responses of 14 hypnotised participants to the suggestion for impaired face processing (reals) with those of 14 nonhypnotised participants instructed to fake their responses (simulators). Overall, results from both experiments confirm that we can use hypnotic suggestion to produce a compelling analogue of mirrored-self misidentification that cannot simply be attributed to social cues or role-playing.

Publication
Consciousness and Cognition, (22), 4, pp. 1510-1522, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2013.10.006