[ Open to Suggestion: continued... ]
Young then went on
with a lengthy review of previous work and general discussion. Among
his comments are these:
a hurried review of the literature it appears that there are no
theoretical obstacles to the possibility of antisocial uses of
hypnosis. On the contrary, the cumulative effect of the reported
results is so great as to convince one that antisocial actions are not
more deviant from the normal behavior - and no more difficult to
induce - than are many of the actions which have been carried out by
subjects motivated by artificial complexes, age regression,
transidentification, etc. In fact, if a skillful hypnotist should use
such techniques as those just mentioned and should use such techniques
as those just mentioned and should go all out to induce antisocial
results, theoretically is is very likely he would succeed.
results show that seven of the eight subjects would enter into a
situation which unhypnotized observers shrank from, the subjects
carrying out suggestions to handle snakes and throw nitric acid under
conditions from which they themselves recoiled in the waking state.
... As it turned out, it was, actually, a dangerous situation. ...
Although the question dealt with here has more theoretical than
practical importance, inasmuch as hypnosis is for the most part in the
hands of reputable persons, still its potential antisocial use by
other types of persons, still its potential antisocial use by other
types of persons should not be lightly regarded. If in skilled and
worthy hands hypnosis is as powerful and salutary an instrument as its
recent application, for example, in hypnoanalysis indubitably
indicates, then in skilled but unworthy hands it might become an
instrument of danger. From the present rather extensive review of both
the theoretical and experimental findings - with particular
consideration of the results of those who think hypnosis powerful only
for good - it seems clear to the writer that this logical conclusion
is the only possible one, and that hypnosis, therefore, must be
thought of as a two-edged tool to be wielded with caution only by
those who possess both an understanding of the motivations it releases
and also the desire to use those dynamisms for scientific and
-Paul Campbell Young, 'Antisocial Uses of Hypnosis,' in LeCron
(ed.), op. cit., pp. 382-4
Orne and Evans
Subjects reported that under hypnosis they felt more passive, were not
particularly concerned with the consequences of their actions or what
safeguards existed, and generally were less disturbed by the situation
than they were in the waking state. The subjects who attempted any of
the activities claimed they were much more hesitant in the waking
state than they had been in the previous hypnotic state.
Orne & Fred Evans, 'Social Control in the Psychological
Experiment: Antisocial Behavior and Hypnosis,' Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, vol. 1, no. 3, 1965, p. 196
Forel was most
emphatic in insisting that crimes be carried out by means of hypnosis:
I am convinced that every conceivable crime
may be committed on a hypnotized person, provided that a higher degree
of hypnosis is attained. ... But a general knowledge of hypnotism will
familiarize the public with its dangers, and thus put it on its guard.
person in lethargy or catalepsy ... may be tamely made the victim of
others' passions, others' cupidity, others' interests. Many faults
against morals, against personal safety, or against the public and
useful activity of a subject, have been committed just by placing the
individual in the hypnotic condition of lethargy or catalepsy.
The subject of
rape under hypnosis is likely to become more relevant rather than
less, as the level of sex crimes seems to be rising in relation to the
greater preoccupation with sex in society today. Nowadays we all take
it for granted that products as diverse as breakfast cereals and fast
cars should be sold to us by advertisers using sexual imagery and
suggestions. We accept the prurient exploitation of sex in all the
media. Magazines like Playboy have long since been accorded a status
among trendies equivalent to the reputations once held by literary
journals and the Christian Science Monitor. Film directors find every
possible excuse to make their starlets run around naked on the screen
for no good reason connected with the story line, and presumably only
because the directors want to see what the starlets look like with no
clothes on. (Try and analyze these scenes and make a list of how many
of them are actually necessary: very few.)
mention these things as a few simple indicators - easily overlooked
because they are so obvious - of the enormous importance which sex has
now assumed in our society.
How many tens of thousands of women are now hopeless neurotics because
articles in Cosmopolitan have told them that their orgasms are not
sufficiently ecstatic? And so on ...
such a climate it is only to be expected that many inadequate people
will feel cheated that they aren't getting all this marvelous sex
which is being talked about and portrayed all over the place - and
such people may turn to rape in order to acquire by force what they
consider is their due. And it is inevitable that Hypnotic rape will
therefore increase along with other forms of rape.
Cases are being
reported more frequently in the press. Some decades ago they were
fewer; one could be shocked when Jack Watkins reported that there had
been an Associated Press account of 1 April 1948 that in Martinez,
California, 'a man was convicted of rape upon
a woman who had been hypnotized against her will.'
A comment upon this in 1957 was: '...the alert reader will, from
time to time, find similar items in the newspapers.
clippings from my own files, I find some with salacious headlines. One
is entitled 'How Sex Sessions Hypnotist Made Me Ache With Desire,'
published in the London Daily Express on Wednesday 24 November,
1982. The article says that Dr. Clifford Salter had just been struck
off the medical register because he had 'used hypnosis and drugs to
persuade two women patients to strip naked for sex ... He wove
relaxing dreams of warmth and desert islands before helping the women
off with their clothes.'
One of the patients said the sex sessions made her want to see the
55-year-old psychiatrist every minute of the day. ... Mr. Du Cann [the
counsel for the prosecution] said Salter even got the Health Service
to pay Mrs. W's [one of his victims] train fare for their romantic
Mrs. W, 27, told the committee:
'At first he hypnotized me and talked about desert islands and warmth.
He would tell me I wanted to take my clothes off and then help me
'We would be completely naked lying on the bed and then we would make
'After a few visits nothing else seemed to matter anymore, just this
doctor. I had this desire to see him every minute of the day.
In September 1988,
prominent coverage was given in the London papers to the case of
Michael Gill, aged 54, who lived in Wales. Gill admitted having sexual
intercourse with various women whom he had hypnotized:
The court was told that Gill, an ex-communicated Mormon, had
hypnotized two women, aged 35 and 38, and had sexual intercourse with
them while they were in trance.
He had also persuaded the 32-year-old woman, a married university
graduate, to take part in naked sex sessions with a woman friend by
convincing her that they were part of sexual therapy.
report of the case describes Gill's relationship with one of his
victims s follows:
The man went to her home on a number of occasions and told her he
would massage her for therapeutic purposes.
She would be hypnotized, wearing a bikini top and bottom and a
'Sometimes she would come out of her hypnotic
state and feel uneasy because she thought he had be interfering with
her bikini top,' Mr. Williams [the counsel for prosecution] added.
'She did lose a couple of stone in weight. But there came a stage when
he hypnotized her for his own ignoble purpose, namely sexual
intercourse with her.'
In her hypnotic trance the woman was aware of what he was doing, but
could not resist.
Notice that even
in a sensational newspaper account of hypnotic rape, the
'powerlessness' and non-volition are apparent. David Collision
recounts yet another clear-cut example of this non-volition in his
account of the case by Barry Palmer, known as 'Mr. Magic,' in the
Australian Journal of Clinical Hypnosis:
She maintains that whilst in this drowsy condition you said to her
'You have very heavy woolen clothes on and the sun s beating down.
It's the middle of the summer, take off your jersey.' Can you recall
'She claims that she was under a form of spell and that she took off
her knitted top that she was wearing. She maintains that you then told
her to take off her bra and the jeans that she was wearing because
they were sticking to her and that it was hot.'
'She states that she then took off her bra and that you came across
and assisted her to take off her jeans because she couldn't stand up.'
'She maintains that the next thing she has a recollection of was being
in the bedroom and that she was coming out of her sleep and that you
said to her, "You are feeling very sexy."
'She maintains that the next thing she remembers is that you were on
top of her and you had your penis in her vagina having intercourse
with her and you said, "There is nothing wrong with sex, you will
reach an orgasm when I do."
'She maintains that she was aware that you were having sexual
intercourse with her but that she was unable to do anything about it
as she had been hypnotized and that she was in a trance.
There was a
transcript of 500 pages. The man was found guilty and sentenced to 15
For, as we saw
repeatedly, the way to success in manipulating a subject for criminal
purposes was to create delusions and distort the subject's awareness.
I am certain that this occasionally happens in cases of hypnotic rape
too. ... What we have here is the old distinction made by hypnosis
writers in the nineteenth century and largely forgotten today between
hypnotic crimes committed by the subject and hypnotic crimes committed
upon the subject. It takes no great acumen to recognize that the
former are active and the latter are passive. So are the hypnotic
phenomena giving rise to them, which is only to be expected.
Before passing on
to the next topic, hypnosis in the courtroom, let us just consider the
which women can take to protect themselves against hypnotic rape.
The first and most important thing for them to keep in mind is that
hypnotic rape is possible. Forewarned is forearmed, as they
The next thing to
bear in mind is that, even without hypnosis, a great deal of sex takes
place between male therapists and female patients. Few patients are
even aware of this, much less of the possibilities of rape under
hypnosis. If a woman finds a therapist suspect, if he gives indication
of being amorous, it is probably unwise to risk hypnosis with him.
Patients should be far more wary of lay therapists than professional
ones, as most of the reported cases of hypnotic rape have been
committed by lay therapists. (That is, therapists with no medical or
psychiatric background, however many certificates they may have
hanging on their walls.)
If during the
course of treatment in hypnosis, by lay or professional therapist or
whomever, sexual innuendos or imagery begin to become injected into
the discussion for no apparent reason, this is a very bad sign and it
may mean that the therapist is 'setting up' the patient for later
sessions to commit actual sexual acts.
Cases where the
hypnotic rape is committed on the first occasion are rare, and so are
cases where the victim is hypnotized unawares or against her will. For
those extremely rare persons who are so highly hypnotizable that they
can actually be hypnotized unknowingly or against their wishes, there
is little advice one can give!
In any city in the
world there will always be several thousand people of this sort, and
the unscrupulous may choose to seek them out and abuse them. But
vigilance and being informed are the best protection.
A person who has
shown signs of being extremely highly hypnotizable can always ask to
take a hypnotizability test to find out for certain. The other comfort
is that there will always be only a small number of
unscrupulous hypnotizers who have the skill to exploit this
susceptibility. It is most unfortunate that on more than one occasion
victim and abuser have met on trains!