A stranger in the looking glass: developing and challenging a hypnotic mirrored-self misidentification delusion

Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2011 Jan;59(1):1-26. doi: 10.1080/00207144.2011.522863.


This article describes a study that used hypnosis to temporarily re-create mirrored-self misidentification, which is the delusional belief that the person one sees in the mirror is a stranger. Following a hypnotic suggestion to see a stranger in the mirror, high hypnotizable subjects described seeing a stranger with physical characteristics different to their own. Whereas subjects' beliefs about seeing a stranger were clearly false, they had no difficulty generating sensible reasons to explain the stranger's presence. The authors tested the resilience of this belief with clinically inspired challenges. Although visual challenges (e.g., the hypnotist appearing in the mirror alongside the subject) were most likely to breach the delusion, some subjects maintained the delusion across all challenges. Findings are discussed in light of the dominant theory of delusions and highlight the advantages of using hypnosis to explore delusional beliefs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Image*
  • Capgras Syndrome / psychology
  • Communication
  • Culture*
  • Delusions / psychology*
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis / methods*
  • Male
  • Rationalization
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Self Concept*
  • Suggestion*
  • Visual Perception*
  • Young Adult