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kermitthefrog
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On 2002-10-26 05:41, Dr Omni wrote:

"Yes, by any reasonable ethical standards. Each volunteer chooses of his or her own free will to go on stage and participate in the show. He or she is free to walk off stage at any time he or she chooses to do so."

I'm not so sure. There are different ways for stage hypnotists to proceed. They can call volunteers to the stage and then see how deep any of them can go; or they can run a little induction on everyone in the audience -- especially in a big audience where some small percentage of the people probably can be taken deeply with great ease -- and then have the ones whose "hands are stuck together" come up to the front, where they become subjects. Are these people volunteers? Yes and no: they already are under the influence of the hypnotist when they decide to come to the front, and they probably don't realize that they are about to walk around the stage clucking like chickens. Nor do they remember much about it later. Whether this does long term harm of any kind (apart from the obvious harm to their dignity) I don't know; but it strikes me as not so different from questions about whether casual and irresponsible hypnotherapy can cause harm.

An important point to remember is that people vary considerably in their ability to go into deep hypnosis. For some people it's just a kind of relaxation in which they stay mostly conscious. For others, it's an experience where they become mostly unconscious, forfeit control of themselves to the hypnotist, and recall nothing later. The latter cases are the ones that most interest me.

KF
Paradox
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As far as spectators being under the
"influence" of a hypnotist when they do the hand clasp test in the audience, they're already under the hypnotist's "influence" when they decided to buy tickets & come to the show.

I put "influence" in quotes because it's the SUBJECT that does the hypnotizing. The hypnotist only points him in the right direction.
Dr Omni
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Kermit - It's true that many stage hypnotists (including me) carry out testing (such as the hand-clasp test) on as many members of the audience who want to carry out those tests. This is a way of finding out who is most responsive. (But no-one is compelled to take par in these tests.) The point is that the hypnotist is doing his best to create a great show, where everyone there has a good time and is entertained. Because people have chosen to go and see the show, they presumably know what the standard format of a stage hypnosis show is.

In the large majority of stage shows that I've been to see, there have been far more people wanting to be subjects than the hypnotist needs. However, in a situation where no-one or only one or two people volunteer, then it's understandable that the hypnotist uses strong persuasion to encourage good potential subjects (whose hands are locked) to take part in the show. After all, if there are no volunteers, there is no show, right?

But even in those cirumstances, the hypnotist is not *forcing* anyone to take part, so I don't see how it's unethical.

It's a bit like advertising, salesmanship and so on. Some of the most effective advertising and sales pitches use
"hypntoic" methods and appeal to the unconscious mind. But they are not *forcing* anyone to buy. Provided that the advertising or salesmanship is not deliberately dishonest and fraudulent, surely that's not unethical.
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Socrates
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Thanks for all the replies, there's a whole lot of useful information and that's exactly what I was looking for, thanks.

Socrates

'He who can copy, can do' - Leonardo DaVinci Smile
Vaclav
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The New Encyclopedia Of Stage Hypnotism by Ormond McGill should help a little.
PK
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Stage hynosis is really nothing more than finding members of the audience who are willing to play along with what you say and cooperate. The whole hypnotism thing is a pretense.

If you are wanting to give therapy sessions then there is a track record proven, of how dangerous 'hypnosis' can be.

For example the supposed 'recovered memory' cases where people apparently remember instances of satanic ritual abuse, that they were unaware of before-hand.

People went to jail over this! Pseodoscientific thinking prevails again (ahem). It can be dangerous.

Is there such a thing as trance and is hynosis helpful? Both of these issues are very contentious.

Conclusion - 'hypnosis' can possibly be a useful psychological tool, but there is clearly plenty of scope for disaster.

It's not so much the hypnosis itself (I doubt there is such a thing as a trance) but the fact you are dealing with potentally very vulnerable people who can be manipulated.

So much so, that if you suggest the cause of a client's problem is child abuse from 20 years ago, they actually start to invent memories.

If you keep telling them the belief is real then major problems emerge.

Psudeoscintific thinking can be very dangerous indeed.

Kevin
Burt Yaroch
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Kevin are you stating fact here or just your opinion?

If, indeed, you can prove what stage hypnosis really is and provide us with this "track record" of how dangerous hypnosis is, I would love to read about it. I'm sure many others here would too.
Yakworld.
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I, for one, would also like to know what is allegedly dangerous about hypnosis.
As I understand it, Kevin isn't stating that "stage" hypnosis is dangerous. He seems to me to be saying that HYPNOTHERAPY can be dangerous, especially if it causes the subject to have "false" memories and the like.
Am I right about this?
At any rate, I, too, would like chapter and verse on proof of alleged "harm" caused by hypnosis. Methinks it's not the "state" of hypnosis itself that's dangerous (since it's merely narrowed attention and a natural "state" of human consciousness) but what is done to, or with, a person who is IN that "state".
I know there's controversy about whether hypnosis "exists" or not, or whether it's a "state" or not. That, of course, brings up the question of how something that allegedly doesn't exist can cause so much harm - - -
The Bear
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I have to agree with Paradox that hypnosis is a 'natural' state of consciousness, merely being the focussing of one's attention onto an idea or concept in an uncritical way.

When Kevin says that hypnosis can be dangerous, we could also make the claim that 'medicine' can be dangerous, in that there are examples of missed diagnoses or wrongly administered drugs. So the issue of 'danger' boils down to the competence and training of the practitioner, not the subject matter itself. (I'm not trying to have a go at the medical fraternity - merely using it as an example).

To put it into perspective, here in the UK the cost of obtaining professional indemnity insurance for a hypnotherapist is ten times LESS than the same level of cover needed for a psychiatrist. So insurance companies don't seem to think it's dangerous!

This is not to deny that there have been incompetent or badly trained practitioners, but I can assure everyone that a properly trained therapist would NEVER suggest that someone's current problems are caused by childhood abuse (for example), and would NEVER try to manipulate a vulnerable patient.
There are two types of people in the world. Those that divide the world into two types of people, and those that don't.
Dr Omni
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The Bear - An excellent point. There is no sharply-defined dividing line between "hypnotic" and other forms of communication or states of awareness. My own view is that hypnosis *is* a real thing, in that it's a useful term to describe certain specific communications and states. But what we call "hypnosis" is simply an inherent faculty within human being, just like, for instance, the language faculty and the capacity to draw or paint pictures, to create, perform and enjoy music, and other faculties which can be developed through learning and practice. Sure, there are hypnotherapists (and stage hypnotists) who are "bad" at what they do in the sense that they have learned little about it and practise it poorly, just as there are "bad" writers, musicians, artists and so on. But this does not mean that hypnosis is dangerous or harmful, any more than "bad" writing, music, art, etc is dangerous or harmful.

From what I've read about the whole "false memory syndrome" hoo-ha of the 1990s (which we don't hear much about today), I see no conclusive evidence that the use of hypnosis *as such* led to dangerous or harmful consequences. People come to believe thing that aren't true from all sorts of sources (try listening to politicians, the press or the TV).

With reference to the world of medicine, it is a verified statistical fact that in the UK every year, some 70,000 people die from medical errors which are preventable. Also in the UK, 25% of the people who die in hospital every year die from infections they have picked up in the hospital itself.

The number of deaths worldwide ever caused by hypnotherapy or stage hypnosis: zero.
Hypnotist and mentalist.
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PK
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Is stage hypnosis dangerous?

No. It is nothing more than finding people who are wiling to co-operate with you. As I said before the whole hypnosis element is a facade. Subjects are not really in a trance.

For reading on the dangers of therapy sessions read the brilliant Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan.

Another example of false memories is people who think they have been examined by aliens following therapy sessions.

Since the satanic abuse cases involve real court cases I'll see if I can get citations for you.

This is not opinion. They are very real examples of how dangerous a belief in hynotherapy can be if you encourge people to remember 'forgotten causes' of their problems and then tell them the memories are real.

As I said before, people have gone to jail who have been wrongly accused of child abuse.

Kevin

I'd like to emphasise that in my initial post I said hypnotherapy 'can' be dangerous.

I'm not saying it always is.

I'm not even saying that it is not useful, in the right hands.

Kevin

It turns out that the skeptics dictionary has an excellent essay on hypnosis, which makes the point better than I can in a few minutes of typing.


http://www.skepdic.com/hypnosis.html

Kevin
The Bear
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Just to play Devil's Advocate again, but I think that the article from the skeptics dictionary is littered with inaccuracies, selective editing and poor conclusions. And this applies to several of the entries on the site, not just the hypnosis one.

That site is an insult to true skeptics IMO.

As to whether hypnosis exists or not, we first have to define what the word "hypnosis" is supposed to mean, as different people have different conceptions. I think Dr. Omni's point is a good one, in that it's a useful description of various psychological states based around communication, and that they're normal and natural states, rather than being some esoteric 'power'. And to agree with another of the Dr's points, for every example of supposed hypnotic abuse that can be found, we could find hundreds (maybe thousands) of examples of medical malpractice.

There is much good work that goes on by hypnotherapists worldwide, but of course that never gets reported on the news. So please let us keep the problems in perspective.

I hope we're not getting too off-topic!
There are two types of people in the world. Those that divide the world into two types of people, and those that don't.
Philemon Vanderbeck
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In case anyone is interested, here is a link to the Scientific American's article on the latest research into hypnosis:

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?article......;catID=2
Professor Philemon Vanderbeck
That Creepy Magician
"I use my sixth sense to create the illusion of possessing the other five."
procyonrising
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Dr. Omni,

I'm sorry to report that there was indeed a case of someone dying of hypnosis. The hypnotist was tried and convicted of murder.

But it's the only reported case of significant physical harm arising from hypnosis.
Lee Darrow
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Procyonrising,

Can you point the members to somewhere where this report can be read? There was a spurious "report" about such a thing that turned out to be an urban legend a few years ago and is still being put out by people who were unaware of the nature of the report's hoax factor as being fact. This happens in almost every field out there. In fact, I got caught by one, just last week, so, if this turns out to be the same one, don't feel bad.

Not an attack, but I'd like to take a look at it. As a professional in the field, I'm very surprised that it didn't get more press in the professional journals.

Thanks in advance,

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
http://www.leedarrow.com
<BR>"Because NICE Matters!"
procyonrising
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Mr. Darrow,

Fair request.

However, let me first amend my previous post by saying that the hypnotist was actually tried and convicted of manslaughter (not murder). My mistake, and I apologize.

The hypnotist's name was Franz Neukomm, and the unfortunate event happened in 1894.

Here's the reference:

Schrenck-Notzing, F. 1902. Kriminalpsychologische und psychopathologische Studien: Gesammelte Aufsatze aus den Gebieten der Psychopathia sexualis, der gerichtlichen Psychiatrie und der Suggestionslehre. Leipzig: Verlag von Johann Ambrosius Barth. (For those who don't know, this is in APA format, just print it out and hand it to the librarian).

I found a copy of this at Widener Library, at Harvard University. If your local branch doesn't carry it, just go down to the closest major university and they should be able to get it on interlibrary loan from Harvard.
Bill Hallahan
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I wonder if the man died "of" hypnosis, or if he just happened to die "during" hypnosis. I suppose the distinction might seem unimportant to his family. I wonder if he was under stress while he was hypnotized.

My point is that just about anything can kill someone who has a weak heart, or an embolism, or any number of other life threatening conditions.

Considering how common hypnosis is, then I would think even if the report turns out to be valid, then it is actually a testament to how non-life threatening hypnotism is that you have to go back more than 100 years to find a fatality.
Humans make life so interesting. Do you know that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to create boredom. Quite astonishing.
- The character of ‘Death’ in the movie "Hogswatch"
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