HypnosisReality.com, Op-Ed, 010424 Updated
(MN) There's nothing wrong with celebrating a national day of something that is of significant benefit to society. These days, if you have a social cause, you can literally petition to have a national day of recognition set aside for just about anything - but when the national day becomes something altogether much bigger and crosses over international boundaries - the cause had better be something truly worthy of a designated annual global observance.
It would also seem to be an assumed prerequisite that a worldwide day of any one issue should be carefully reserved only for those topics which surely have benefit to the entire planet, something that affects us all on a daily global scale, such as climate change, racism, trafficking, or world peace. Global awareness of such issues is designed to promote recognition of a critical societal problem, with the hope of stimulating some positive benevolent change. These are altruistic ideals that are deemed as being good for society as a whole. Those which do not meet such lofty criteria should understandably be questioned.
Somewhat is the case with World Hypnotism Day, designated for January 4th of each year. Hypnotism is indeed a tremendous benefit for many, with its therapeutical qualities confirmed long ago by many in the field of medicine - and it has been used worldwide in various forms for hundreds of years. In fact, the date for this international observance is said to be a tribute to Irish hypnotherapist, Dr. Jack Gibson, who is noted for using hypnosis for pain control and drug addictions, however, with that said, the overall mission statement of the official website brings some immediate pause for concern.
Given the mixed and somewhat sordid history of the profession and its well documented issues with early practitioners, it would seem that a world day to promote the medium should not be without a sincere resolute reflection of the shortcomings and pitfalls which are detrimental to advancement of the profession. To be perfectly clear, it's not the subject of hypnosis itself that is bothersome because, as previously mentioned, it can indeed be a very beneficial tool for humans. However, to overlook the stains of the profession, by claiming to remove myths and misconceptions, is to infer that such issues are not real, which is not a tenable proposition when it comes to any claim of promoting the truth.
To reiterate, the concern here is for the overall premise with which this world day of acclaim is being presented - to tell the truth about hypnosis. The search engine description listed by the website states... "to remove the myths and misperceptions while promoting the truth and benefits of hypnotism," however, a look at the World Hypnotism Day website itself curiously reveals very little information at all on the subject, and offers no data whatsoever to actually dispel or dismiss any myths of hypnosis. There are no studies or articles or white papers. There does not appear to be any information at all on the site which addresses the myths and misconceptions of hypnosis. One would think these issues would be readily presented and highlighted for the reader, in light of the mission statement and the proclamation of World Hypnotism Day, yet they are strangely enough not addressed at all on the official website.
World Hypnotism Day was first introduced in 2004, by hypnotist Tom Nicoli and the Hypnotism Day Committee. The website ProsperUSA.com notes the following regarding this event... "Tom is the Originator and Chairman of World Hypnotism Day. World Hypnotism Day, January 4, is when professional hypnotists enlighten the world of the benefits and truths of hypnotism while dispelling myths and misconceptions. Over 50 proclamations have been received for WHD by Mayors, Lt. Governors, and Governors throughout the USA and Canada."
In a 2009 article explaining about World Hypnotism Day, Nicoli stated, "The added benefit for all participating hypnotists is in the exposure received via publicity and promotion of WHD events which increases awareness of hypnotist's services locally and increases business." This characterization would seem to infer that this "added benefit" might arguably suggest the primary impetus for the creation of World Hypnotism Day was more of a marketing tool for promoting hypnosis, individual hypnotherapists, and associations who help support its cause, as opposed to an organization which openly purports to tell the truth about the medium and dispels the dark myths of the field.
This is where we diverge and see problematic issues with World Hypnotism Day.
With all due respect, it seems wholly disingenuous to make the allegation that there are myths which populate the topic of hypnosis, and then never address them in any way at all. If one proclaims to "tell the truth about hypnosis," then all arguments and data need to be presented. To make such a bold claim of promoting hypnosis truth, and then not even broach the issue of evidence, is a curious way to lodge an argument or to prove a point.
With the latter thought in mind, we reached out to Mr. Nicoli regarding the WHD website and its lack of data to support the claim of removing myths and misconceptions. Mr. Nicole promptly responded by stating, "The website is not the place where the general public is educated about Hypnosis." He followed that up by stating, "That's what the hypnotists do when hosting events around the world." In defense of the website, he also stated that at one time it did used to offer a bit of information, but website technical problems were allegedly responsible for this critical data loss, and to date the issue is still, as yet, unresolved. He did state there would be a renewed effort to address the obvious lack of support files, and to get them uploaded again. He then reiterated his earlier comment by adding, "But again, the website was never a place with lots of research information as the source for people. It's a home for the event."
To be clear, there is nothing at all wrong with celebrating a day for hypnosis, however, we do take specific issue with it being under the auspices of dispelling myth and misconception, primarily because there is much documentation to support the fact that most of the alleged myths and misconceptions are actually true! [ See: The Truth About Hypnosis Myths ]
This is the point where the hypnosis profession falls far short of reality and becomes divided. Too many simply don't know any better. Thankfully there are some leading professionals within the field who are refreshingly open and quite candid about the misuse and abuse of hypnosis. The most notable being Dr. David Spiegel of Stanford University, and the recently deceased Dr. Daniel Brown of Harvard University. Dr. Spiegel is also personally responsible for shedding some long sought, much needed, evidentiary light into the reality of hypnosis trance and how it actually affects the human brain, through the use of hi-tech electronic brain scanning technologies. He has been a true pioneer in the field of hypnosis and trance.
This is exactly what the profession needs to move forward, more hypnotherapists to corroborate the use of hypnosis through scientific method, but also, more professionals to stand up and recognize the presence and disturbing issues of misuse and abuse. Under these ideals, an open dialogue could finally take place among hypnotherapy professionals, researchers and academicians, with public education of hypnosis and trance being at the forefront of such an effort. This is something which is arguably essential to societal acceptance of the medium and the profession itself - something which is sorely long overdue.
If there is to be a worldwide day dedicated specifically to hypnosis, then rightfully it must come with the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or else it becomes nothing more than a self-serving marketing campaign of more continued disinformation and propaganda - and that does not serve its vulnerable female clientele, or the rest of the public, very well.
To continue to ignore and/or deny the existence of such criminal felony activity is understandably bewildering, discouraging and even unsettling, given the severity of the issue at hand and how it continues to affect the profession as a whole. It would seem to be very short-sided and quite self-defeating to not address a problem that affects the acceptance and credibility of the profession. (This really should qualify as an epiphany-inspired moment of "duh.")
As readers of HypnosisReality.com already know, there is plenty of evidence which supports the allegations of hypnosis misuse and abuse. It is backed and supported with decades worth of news reports and victim accounts of sexual assault using hypnosis. The evidence is overwhelming, irrefutable and quite damning. The site has already uncovered and revealed well over 200-plus instances of hypnotherapists being arrested for committing sexual assault through the use of hypnosis, most of them having multiple victims, some as high as 50 or more, with most victims typically being women and children.
For the record... these are cases that have already been prosecuted and sentenced. With so much evidentiary data, the hypnosis profession cannot continue to stick its head in the sand and pretend this issue does not exist. The issue is not going to go away until the profession as a whole recognizes it and finally addresses it, rather than running from it, as it has for the last 50-plus years.
We sincerely hope and pray that those behind this international day for hypnotism will reconsider their stance and once and for all recognize the voluminous data that has been well documented for many decades, as opposed to ignoring it, or worse yet, regurgitating past myth. Instead, an enlightened refutation of the untruths would be most welcome. We urge all of those who support this international day of recognition to please reconsider their efforts, and to revise the website to include all of the data on hypnosis, both past and present, for there are numerous studies already published which are over a century old, which present undeniable evidence of misconduct and abuse. When such available and abundant evidence is cavalierly dismissed or ignored out of hand, the weight of any argument against it is exponentially diminished and greatly neutered.
If the hypnosis profession is to move ahead for the future, it has to look back first and address the past. The real truth needs to prevail once and for all, if the hypnosis field is to ever truly be taken seriously and accepted en masse by the general population - but first it must overcome its well deserved stigma of misuse and abuse, which has been willfully and deliberately hidden by some for too many decades, presumably in an effort to protect the profession, rather than its clientele.
To not address these existing obvious issues is to continue on with perpetuating myth, rather than finally presenting the actual facts of hypnotism.
In all fairness, if there is indeed to be a celebration of World Hypnotism Day, we sincerely and respectfully wish for it to be about the real truth of hypnosis.
Updated 01/05: When contacted again afterward about his organization getting involved with the hypnosis truth movement, in regards to misuse, abuse, and sexual assault violations, Mr. Nicoli quickly distanced himself and any future efforts on the WHD website from this particular subject matter. "WHD is focused on promoting the Truth and Benefits of hypnosis to the world. Of course there's the negative influence in all things but I'm not intent on shining a light in that corner."
Editor's Note: In response, we respectfully refer
to the last three paragraphs of the article above.