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Conscious Cogn. 2013 Dec;22(4):1285-97. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2013.07.011. Epub 2013 Sep 8.

Transmitting delusional beliefs in a hypnotic model of folie à deux.

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  • 1Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD) and Department of Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.


Folie à deux is the transference of delusional ideas from one 'primary' individual to one or more 'secondary' individuals (Lasègue & Falret, 1877). However, it is difficult to investigate experimentally because often only one patient is identified as delusional. We investigated whether hypnosis could model the experiences of the secondary in this delusion. Our primary was a confederate, who displayed two delusional beliefs and attempted to transmit them to hypnotised subjects. We manipulated the status of the confederate so that they were portrayed as either "credible" or merely "interesting".Many high hypnotisable individuals adopted the confederate's beliefs and confabulated evidence in support of them.Also, subjects who interacted with a credible confederate extended their delusions beyond those displayed by the confederate. We discuss the strengths and limitations of this approach and suggest ways to improve the validity of this model.


Delusion; Folie à deux; Hypnosis; Hypnotic analogue

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