Evil Stage Hypnotists

First conjured up by the fictionalised Svengali, whom was to hypnotism what Doctor Moriarty was to detective novels (Dr. Moriarty was Sherlock Holmes’ arch-enemy). In reality most hypnotherapists have a love-hate relationship with stage hypnotists. Hypnosis as entertainment to some degree lends an air of mysticism, black arts and a generally slight dark undercurrent to hypnosis. Professional hypnotherapists almost without fail will at some point have to contend with the invariable questions about whether the client will soon be barking like a dog (or even more amusingly…barking like a chicken!).

A slight sense of uneasiness all the way to paranoia and phobias is sometimes exhibited by otherwise rational people when they are unexpectedly confronted with a professional hypnotist.

This can at times be a little irritating for those of us that are normally working in a purely therapeutic capacity. It also has made it difficult for hypnotherapy to be regarded as a true science. Partly because of long-held incorrect superstitious beliefs about hypnosis and partly because hypnosis itself is indeed a science, which also encompasses a certain degree of artful mastery in order to be performed successfully that is not really required or present in say a pure science like statistics. On the other hand, hypnosis is also tendentially at least, more fun (and more useful for the client in most cases) than plain old statistical analysis.

Erickson in his wish to make hypnosis the tool of only qualified doctors was in my opinion trying to ensure that its use was confined to persons that were to some degree more likely to have a reasonable level of common sense and hopefully and more importantly also a higher level of overall ethical conduct.

My personal view is that hypnosis should remain open to all. Knowledge and power cannot be confined to the use by the few in order to safeguard the many. Admittedly the human race would not last long if every man woman and child had grape-sized nuclear weapons readily at hand, however, ultimately humanity is to become composed of persons precisely capable of coexisting peacefully even under such conditions. Furthermore, stage hypnotists are like anyone else, no more or less prone to ethical lacunae than the rest of us human beings on planet Earth. And certainly doctors in general have a far from pristine reputation when it comes to ethical or non-ethical behaviour. In fact, some studies seem to show, that in at least some cases (as with policemen) doctors are more likely to partake in criminal behaviour than the average citizen.

My sole rule of thumb when looking at a hypnotist is to gauge their ethics and their practical ability, beyond that whether they earn their living as a stage hypnotist, therapist or plumber for that matter, is personally irrelevant to me.

Stage hypnotists also have valuable contributions to make to hypnosis particularly in the field of rapid inductions and special, shock or other unusual induction techniques. It is also relevant to note that stage hypnotists have been at least as instrumental in advancing hypnosis as have the purely therapeutic or medical practitioners of hypnosis.

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