Monday, March 3, 2008

A Cloud on Hypnosis

For a Monday, it is quite beautiful - warm and sunny. The week ahead seems well paced. And yet there is this ugly dark cloud above us. That is right - above US, not just me, but you and I. It is small, so it is probably nothing more than an irritation, but I am not one to enjoy an irritation, no matter how petite.

This cloud is in the form of words - hideous and reeking of misinformation. No, no one has fouled my name (as of today -LOL), but it fouls the good name of honest hypnotists. It comes in the form of a short article in the Lancashire Evening Post with the headline "Man used 'hypnosis' on girls." Granted, this does not say much, but it has a sinister bent (the juxtaposition of Man and girls) and sure enough, it is dark.

The basis story is this: a man played a game with a couple of little girls, "pretending" to catch them and hypnotize them, after which, he kissed and touched them. Perhaps you just breathed a sigh of relief (those more concerned with the good name of "hypnosis" - there is no sigh of relief for the perpetration of a heinous crime) and thought, "he was just pretending to 'hypnotize' the girls - he did not really use hypnosis." However, in my book, there is another crime that has been committed other than the one of sexual nature. It is a crime of ignorance and one that the media is promoting. Perhaps that is actually two crimes.

Here is the break down. The crime is in the misrepresentation of hypnosis. First,when the average joe reads the article, chances are, it will be skimmed or read lightly. Will he or she get that is was just a game and he did not hypnotize the girls? The other horrible side of it is how the idea of hypnosis was used in the game. It sounds as though he (the man) takes on the persona of an Ogre, catches the girls and hypnotizes them. The hypnosis is to...what? Is it to get the girls to do things against their will? Am I making a paranoid leap here? If it is indeed the idea of having someone do something against their will, well, let us take two steps back. Once again, the media's pull is strong when proliferating the myths of hypnotic arts. Yes, for all of you non-hypnosis-knowing people that maybe reading this, it is a myth that you will do things against your will when in hypnosis. This is at the heart of what is bothering me about this small little cloud of an article.

Source: Lancashire Evening Post


Michael Raugh, C.H. said...

It's always unfortunate when stories like that hit the media. I'm sure hypnotists in the UK are probably going to have to be a bit more diligent in their pre-talks for a little while. (Sort of figuring that the farther one gets from Lancashire the fewer people will likely see the story. I could be wrong on that, of course.)

In my pre-talk I tend to be very direct about stating that hypnosis can't "make" people do anything. Sometimes I wonder if I'm hampering the session by doing so, knowing how much of hypnosis is based on belief. Then something like this comes out and makes the honest approach the obvious choice.


Mirehn said...

The sad fact is that this kind of myth is far more attractive than the truth, it makes a far more interesting story of mind control and evil men twisting the end of their goatee while laughing evilly; than the rather more prozac truth of what is arguably merely a conversational style, or a number of other things including an expression of a reaction to an authority figure, an example of the effects of belief (ideo-responses and the like) and so many other theories. How is this academic answer going to be more memorable than the former, which feeds paranoia which is far more lingering than rational thought.

And so I'm afraid we will probably always be plagued by this kind of thing, it is just so much more attractive than the truth.