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Obituary - Ernest R. Hilgard

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates@home.com>
Date: Sun, 04 Nov 2001 11:46:16 -0500
Fwd Date: Sun, 04 Nov 2001 11:46:16 -0500
Subject: Obituary - Ernest R. Hilgard


November 3, 2001

Ernest R. Hilgard, Leader in Study of Hypnosis, Dies at 97


Dr. Ernest R. Hilgard, a highly acclaimed experimental
psychologist and a pioneer in the scientific study of hypnosis,
died on Oct. 22 in Palo Alto, Calif., where he was a professor
emeritus at Stanford University. He was 97.

Dr. Hilgard was also known as a primary author of a classic
psychology text, "Introduction to Psychology," widely familiar
to college students in entry level courses. First published in
1953, the book was issued in a 13th edition two years ago.

An expert in learning and memory, Dr. Hilgard began his career
studying classical conditioning in the Pavlovian tradition. But
it was his work on hypnosis that brought him to national

"Hypnosis had been off to the side of mainstream psychology,"
said Dr. Gordon H. Bower, a professor of psychology at Stanford.
Dr. Hilgard "moved into it and tried to put it on a more
scientific basis," Dr. Bower said.

With another researcher, Dr. Andre Weitzenhoffer, Dr. Hilgard
developed a scale to measure a person's susceptibility to
hypnotic induction, allowing scientists to compare the
technique's effectiveness in different studies.

He was also among the first to study the use of hypnosis to
control pain.

Dr. Hilgard's time at Stanford, which began in 1933, coincided
with "the big growth spurt" in the psychology department's
national reputation, Dr. Bower said. He credited Dr. Hilgard
with bringing to the university many of the field's brightest
scholars, including Dr. Leon Festinger and Dr. Eleanor Maccoby.

Adept at reviewing and synthesizing many different theoretical
perspectives, Dr. Hilgard was known for his catholic and
objective approach to the field.

In 1940, he published "Theories of Learning" in collaboration
with Dr. Donald G. Marquis. Its fifth edition, for which Dr.
Bower was a collaborator, remains in print.

Dr. Hilgard's introductory text was translated into several
languages and continues widely in use, although his name
eventually dropped behind those of his younger co-authors. It
branched into various editions for teacher and students, and the
latest, with Rita L. Atkinson as the lead author, was issued by
Harcourt in 1999.

Dr. Hilgard's wife, Dr. Josephine Rohrs Hilgard, a psychiatrist,
was also a collaborator, particularly in his work with
hypnotism. Together they wrote "Hypnosis in the Relief of Pain,"
published in 1983 with a revised edition in 1994. Also in print,
at Harcourt, is his "The Experience of Hypnosis" (1968).

Ernest Ropiequet Hilgard, who was known as Jack, was born in
Belleville, Ill., and graduated from the University of Illinois
in 1924. He received his Ph.D. at Yale in 1930. He took emeritus
status at Stanford in 1969.

In 1957, he and his wife founded the Laboratory of Hypnosis
Research at Stanford, which he directed until 1979. The purpose
was to shore up the scientific underpinnings of hypnotism.

In medical practice, the phenomenon was introduced by Dr. Franz
Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), a Viennese forerunner of modern
psychotherapy and analysis. Spurned by Freud and most
practitioners, it remained largely confined to vaudeville and
the drawing room until Dr. Hilgard's generation.

While Dr. Hilgard's scale of susceptibility gave scientists a
standard tool for studying hypnotism, his neodissociation theory
of 1977 helped to explain it.

Dr. Hilgard proposed that several distinct states of
consciousness can be present during hypnosis. Thus, certain
actions may become dissociated from the conscious mind.

In recent years, hypnosis has been used to manage otherwise
intractable pain or fear of pain in the dentist's chair, and as
an aide in psychotherapy. It has also been used in criminal
investigations to restore lapsed memories.

Dr. Hilgard was a member of the National Academy of Sciences,
the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American
Philosophical Society. He was a past president of the American
Psychological Association.

Dr. Hilgard's wife, whom he met at Yale, died in 1989, after 58
years of marriage. He is survived by a son, Henry R., of Santa
Cruz, Calif.; a daughter, Elizabeth H. Jecker of San Luis
Obispo, Calif; five grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

In awarding him its Gold Medal in 1978, the American
Psychological Foundation singled him out for having made
"scientific contributions to nearly every field of psychology,
most notably in learning and states of

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