From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Suggestion is the name given to the psychological process by which one person may guide the thoughts, feelings or behaviour of another.
For nineteenth century writers on psychology such as William James the words "suggest" and "suggestion" were used in senses very close to those which they have in common speech; one idea was said to suggest another when it brought that other idea to mind.
Directives or propositions that were accepted by the subject were called suggestions. By contrast, if they were not accepted the directives or propositions concerned were not considered to be "suggestive". This created a problem: directives or propositions could only be deemed "suggestive" or "non-suggestive" retrospectively. Subjects who accepted the offered "suggestions" were said to be "suggestible" (with all of this term's connotations of mindless gullibility, rather than cognitive and imaginative talent). Other sorts of suggestion may be merely implied by a gesture, a glance, or the overheard chance remark made to a third person, are often described as "non-verbal suggestion".
The hypnotists of the so-called Nancy school (who spoke of "suggestive therapeutics") gave general currency to the doctrine that the most essential feature of the hypnotic state is the extent to which the hypnotized subject accepts, believes, and acts in accordance with every directive or proposition offered to them by the hypnotist.
Modern scientific study of hypnosis separates two essential factors: "trance" and suggestion. The state of mind induced by "trance" is said to come about via the process of a hypnotic induction; essentially instructions and suggestions that an individual will enter a hypnotic state. Once a subject has entered hypnosis, suggestions are given which can produce the effects sought by the hypnotist. Commonly used suggestions on measures of "suggestibility" or "susceptibility" (or, for those with a different theoretical orientation, "hypnotic talent") include suggestions that one's arm is getting lighter and floating up in the air, or the suggestion that a fly is buzzing around your head. The "classic" response to an accepted suggestion that one's arm is beginning to float in the air is that the subject perceives the intended effect as happening involuntarily.
Suggestions, however, can also have an effect in the absence of a hypnosis. These so-called "waking suggestions" are given in precisely the same way as "hypnotic suggestions" (i.e., suggestions given within hypnosis) and can produce strong changes in perceptual experience.
Professor Irving Kirsch has conducted a lot of research investigating such non-hypnotic-suggestibility and found a strong correlation between people's responses to suggestion both in- and outside hypnosis. There are other forms of suggestibility, though not all are considered interrelated, these include: primary and secondary suggestibility, hypnotic suggestibility (i.e., the response to suggestion measured within hypnosis), and interrogative suggestibility.
- tending to suggest or imply
- The painting is abstract, but the colors are suggestive of fruit or the Mediterranean.
- especially, suggesting romance, sex, etc.
- She crossed her legs and shot him a suggestive smile.