[Here is a news article on hypnosis and its applications in
medicine. No one knows how it works or what sort of state it
really is, but they do know that it does work in many situations.
Given this lack of knowledge it is surprising that the Harvard
Mental Health Letter repeated the expedient line that no one can
be conned or coerced into doing things under hypnosis that he or
she would otherwise be morally opposed to doing. Does this refer
to average people or to the subgroup of people who are highly
susceptible? How do they know? Have they tried? Those would be
blatantly unethical experiments in a real-world setting. There
actually are some references which review cases where this has
happened, and there are some experiments in controlled settings
which suggest that people can be convinced to commit such acts.
See, for example, http://www.hypnosis.com/faq/faq6.html, section
D, and http://www.hypnosis.com/faq/faq5-1.html.
Although completely unethical and an abuse of human rights,
real-world experiments in hypnotically inducing criminal and
immoral acts *have* been conducted. They also met with some
"success," unfortunately. The Harvard hypnotherapists should read
the BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE documents released by the CIA under the
FOIA. Those documents also describe attempts to induce hypnosis
in unwitting people (just how successful they ultimately were or
not is not publicly known). This does not even get into the
combination of hypnosis techniques with drugs and with
technologies such as subliminals hidden in ambient music,
voice-to-skull devices, and acoustic psycho-correction.
Medical professionals who want to practice hypnosis
therapeutically will have to deal with the dark side of hypnosis,
also. This includes many victims of hideously unethical hypnosis
experiments conducted under MKULTRA, BLUEBIRD, ARTICHOKE, and who
knows what other code names. Perhaps they could even help heal
victims of such abuses, but not if they deny that such abuses
can occur at all. Here are a few additional links to consider:
Hypnosis swings into mainstream of medicine
Doctors caution that there's much to learn
Posted on Tue, Oct. 14, 2003
The Cleveland Clinic Foundation recently sponsored a presentation on
hypnosis, intended for doctors and others in medicine, so they would
better understand when hypnosis might help patients.
If this tells you anything, it's how much hypnosis has become part
of the mainstream.
Last year, the Harvard Mental Health Letter devoted a two-part report
to hypnosis. In August, the Tufts University Health & Nutrition
Letter reported on findings that hypnosis may provide relief from
What is hypnosis?
``We're still in fairly uncharted territory,'' said Michael McKee,
vice chairman of the Cleveland Clinic's Department of Psychiatry and
Psychology and a co-leader of the clinic's recent program on
hypnosis. ``A lot of the mechanisms are still unknown. We probably
have more information related to pain treatment than anything else.
But there are other applications.''
One theory is that a person enters an altered state of consciousness
during hypnosis, in which certain memories and perceptions are shut
Howard Hall, another expert who participated in the clinic's program,
has studied the effect of hypnosis on children at Rainbow Babies &
Children's Hospital in Cleveland. He reported successful results
helping children overcome pain, anxiety, headaches, bed wetting and
coughing spells, with lasting results.
Hall cautioned, however, that hypnosis is nothing to take lightly,
and that it should involve a well-qualified professional, referred
through a physician. ``Hypnosis in inexperienced hands is dangerous,''
Hall said. ``If someone is not stable, you can make them less
stable.'' As far as the stage acts go: His view is that they're
The Harvard Mental Health Letter noted that hypnosis is not mind
``People cannot be hypnotized against their will or obliged to do or
say anything that conflicts with their moral standards or seriously
offends their sense of decorum,'' the letter said. ``And they usually
can bring themselves out of the hypnotic state whenever they want.''
Further, not everyone can be hypnotized. It is estimated that 10
percent to 20 percent of the people fall easily into hypnosis, while
10 percent are not receptive to hypnosis at all. Others fall at
various points in between. The Harvard letter identified the best
subjects as``imaginative, trustful and emotionally unguarded rather
than literal-minded, skeptical and cautious.''
Mind control by remote
The Search for the Manchurian Candidate
Eager to be unleashed, Morse Allen kept requesting prolonged access to
operational subjects, such as the double agents and defectors on whom
he was allowed to work a day or two. Not every double agent would do.
The candidate had to be among the one person in five who made a good
hypnotic subject, and he needed to have a dissociative tendency to
separate part of his personality from the main body of his consciousness.
The hope was to take an existing ego statesuch as an imaginary childhood
playmateand build it into a separate personality, unknown to the first.
The hypnotist would communicate directly with this schizophrenic offshoot
and command it to carry out specific deeds about which the main
personality would know nothing. There would be inevitable leakage
between the two personalities, particularly in dreams; but if the
hypnotists were clever enough, he could build in cover stories and
safety valves which would prevent the subject from acting inconsistently.
All during the spring and summer of 1954, Morse Allen lobbied for
permission to try what he called "terminal experiments" in hypnosis,
Milton Kline, a New York psychologist who says he also did not want to
cross the ethical line but is sure the intelligence agencies have, served
as an unpaid consultant to Sears and other CIA hypnosis research. Nothing
Sears or others found disabused him of the idea that the Manchurian
Candidate is possible. "It cannot be done by everyone," says Kline, "It
cannot be done consistently, but it can be done."
4. The veteran admits that none of the arguments he uses against a
conditioned assassin would apply to a programmed "patsy" whom a hypnotist
could walk through a series of seemingly unrelated eventsa visit to a
store, a conversation with a mailman, picking a fight at a political
rally. The subject would remember everything that happened to him and
be amnesic only for the fact the hypnotist ordered him to do these
things. There would be no gaping inconsistency in his life of the sort
that can ruin an attempt by a hypnotist to create a second personality.
The purpose of this exercise is to leave a circumstantial trail that will
make the authorities think the patsy committed a particular crime. The
weakness might well be that the amnesia would not hold up under police
interrogation, but that would not matter if the police did not believe
his preposterous story about being hypnotized or if he were shot
resisting arrest. Hypnosis expert Milton Kline says he could create a
patsy in three months- an assassin would take him six. (back)
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