Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
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Monday, February 22, 2016

A First-Person Account of Hypnotic Sexual Exploitation

Much as we may hate to admit it, the image that
hypnosis has in the eyes of the public as a potential source
of sexual exploitation is sometimes accurate.
Carla Emery's book, entitled, Secret, Don't Tell! The Encyclopedia of Hypnotism, published in June, 1998 by Acorn Hill Publishing Co., is indeed a one-volume illustrated encyclopedia of hypnotism (she also wrote The Encyclopedia of Gardening).  However besides the fact that the references are now far out of date, I wouldn't recommend it as an "encyclopedia," or any type of comprehensive source of information on the subject of hypnosis. Judging by its contents, it would appear that the author was intent on proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that it is possible to sexually enslave another by means of hypnosis, strongly implying as she makes her case that this is exactly what happened to her!

The book is divided into six parts: Case Histories of Criminal Hypnosis; A Partial History of U.S. Government Mind-Control Research; Trance Phenomena; Induction Methods; Legal and Therapy Issues in Abusive Hypnosis; and a Reference section. 
Prominently featured are accounts both factual and fictional: Trilby, Svengali, and The Control of Candy Jones, published by Playboy Press and quickly withdrawn from circulation, as well as carefully-crafted deductions from various theoretical positions in psychology and psychiatry, mixed with quotations from stage hypnotists and entertainers as well as recognized authorities.
Emery spends a great amount of time discussing the widespread assertion by people in  the hypnosis community that a hypnotized person cannot be made to do anything against his or her will.  She concludes that thiis is essentially a vast cover-up designed to protect their collective professional standing and economic well-being. With over three hundred thousand copies in print, the author has certainly succeeded in creating a fascinating and entertaining book. However, the hypnosis community is certainly not as united as Ms. Emery perceived it to be. 

Fo example, when I was attending a seminar taught by Martin T. Orne, the former editor of the 
International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, he was asked whether or not hypnosis can be employed as an instrument of sexual exploitation. He replied without hesitation, "I have no doubt," repeating his words for emphasis.
Without going into an endless discussion of the personality dynamics involved, I believe that it is safe to say that certain people, when they are head over heels in love, will selflessly surrender themselves to the patterns of sexual exploitation that Carla Emery described in her Encyclopedia of Hypnotism. It is probably also true that certain types of people are susceptible to falling in love with their hypnotist if certain basic elements (transference, status differential, and personal attraction) are present, which permit the hypnotist to take it from there.   
It is also probably true that under the right conditions, everything that can be produced when hypnosis is present can also be produced in its absence. In the motion picture, "9 1/2 Weeks," for example, Kim Basinger very believably depicts a woman who is gradually led into the depths of depravity by a skilled manipulator of her emotions. 
Lynn (2006) views hypnosis as functioning like a catalyst in a chemical reaction. When a catalyst is present, it allows a reaction to take place more easily; but it does not cause the reaction because nothing at all would happen if the right ingredients were not there to begin with  Given the necessary ingredients, the presence of a catalyst can dramatically affect both the ease and the intensity of the reaction which occurs. Much of his book, Essentials of Clinical Hypnosis, is devoted to a discussion of the manner in which hypnosis catalyzes a wide variety of therapeutic procedures. Presumably, the presence of hypnosis can catalyze seduction in a similar manner.
How can hypnotists cope with the occasional news accounts of the dangers of hypnosis which only serve to reinforce the existing negative stereotypes in the eyes of the public and continue to drive away potential clients? IMHO, honesty is the best policy. Sure, this scares some people away -- but the news value also attracts people. If we cannot run from the truth, let's embrace it! As we state in the American Psychological Association's  Handbook of Clinical Hypnosis (Gibbons and; Lynn, 2010):
Suggestions for enhanced alert experience can be presented in the context of relaxation-sleepy/drowsy suggestions , or clinicians may prefer to use the term hyperempiria in place of hypnosis to circumvent misconceptions associated with the popular view of hypnosis as a sleep-like state. It is possible to tell clients something like, “You might associate hypnosis with suggestions like , ‘You are going into a deep, sound sleep.’ But in hyperempiria, you’re awake and alert the whole time. It’s interesting and enjoyable, and you can get a lot out of it.” The therapist can then employ a wide variety of inductions while continuing to refer to hyperempiria as an enjoyable and effective alternative -- in effect, creating such a perception as a form of self-fulfilling prophecy. . . . Given the inherent flexibility of hypnotic interventions, inductions can contain a mix of hyperempiric and relaxation-based or even sleepy-drowsy suggestions.
Print References 

Emery, C. (1997). Secret, don't tell: The encyclopedia of hypnotism. Tucson, AZ: Acorn Hill Publishing, 1997


Gibbons, D. E. (2001). Experience as an art form. .New York, NY: Authors Choice Press.

Gibbons, D. E. (2000). Applied hypnosis and hyperempiria. Lincoln, NE: Authors Choice Press (originally published 1979 by Plenum Press).

Gibbons, D. E., & Cavallaro, L (2013).. Exploring alternate universes: And learning what they can teach us. Amazon Kindle E-Books. (Note: It is not necessary to own a Kindle reader to download this e-book, as the Kindle app may be downloaded free of charge to a standard desktop or laptop computer and to most cell phones.)

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2010). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. in S. J. Lynn, J. W. Rhue, & I. Kirsch (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp. 267-291.





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