Letter: Beware of stage hypnosis

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The Independent Online
Sir: There is a serious danger the debate between the "respectable" and more reprehensible stage hypnotists (reports, 14 November) obscures the fact that all entertainment hypnosis is potentially hazardous, and the British Society of Medical & Den tal Hypnosis welcomes any move to entirely ban stage hypnosis. Our grave disquiet regarding stage (and TV) hypnosis shows is based upon three main issues: First, stage hypnosis gives an impression of control by the hypnotist, and of subjects behaving foolishly. The spin-off from this has been that many people have become deterred from accepting the responsible use of hypnosis as a valuable aid to medical or dental treatment.

Second, there are dangers inherent in the use of hypnosis when no assessment of the subject's mental suitability at that time has been made, and damage could also occur to susceptible members of the audience, Simply to outlaw "regressive" techniques is afutile move, as regression can occur spontaneously and totally unexpectedly.

Further, profound physical and psychological changes can occur under hypnosis. These changes are obviously the focus of the "entertainment" value of stage hypnosis. It is vital that these changes are monitored carefully during and following trance - an obvious impossibility when groups are hypnotised on a stage before an audience, and even more so when millions watch a television show.

Yours faithfully, DAVID SIMONS Baslow, Derbyshire 14 December The writer is media representative of the British Society of Medical & Dental Hypnosis.

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