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Dr. Giles's Blog

Reflections from Dr. C. Scot Giles, the Consulting Hypnotist and practice owner at Rev. C. Scot Giles, D.Min., LLC

Filtering by Category: Hypnotism

One of the Problems

Charles Giles

This morning I am feeling cross.

I'm the Legislative and Governmental Concerns Liaison for the hypnotist union, the legislative arm of the National Guild of Hypnotists. It's my (volunteer) job to stay informed of hypnotism laws around the country, to engage in political activity to influence and shape those laws, and to advocate within the Guild leadership for strict adherence to ethics and recommended standards.

I'm also the person who has to fly around the country to help put out a public relations fire when a hypnotist catches the negative attention of the press.

This morning I'm looking at an ad by a hypnotist that makes me mad.

Hypnotists and Hypnotherapists (the words are synonyms) are self-regulated professionals, like Certified Public Accountants, Financial Planners and many other occupations.

Before a state government will license a profession there has to be evidence that the unlicensed practice of it can harm the public. There is no evidence that hypnotism can harm anyone, even if poorly done. All the research shows that a hypnotized person will reject any suggestion that does not fit with his or her values, beliefs or self-image. Therefore, we practice under a system of voluntary self-regulation.

The oldest and largest hypnotism organization in the world is the National Guild of Hypnotists. It sets explicit training standards, uses a standardized curriculum, sets a rigorous code of ethics, and recommends standards of practice and terminology to keep from infringing on the protected scope of practice of psychologists and physicians. I'm very proud of my Guild affiliation and standing.

The ad in front of me is from someone who is ignoring all of that. It's full of claims that are overstated and sensationalistic. She uses a professional title that is probably illegal for someone who isn't licensed to practice medicine, and she engages in all manner of "self-puffery," as one comedian calls it. None of it would stand up to serious examination.

I know her. Her practice is a tiny, part-time thing. It's more of a hobby than a livelihood. But that's always the way it is with such matters. It's usually the small-fry that cause all the problems and create suspicion about the rest of us.

Serious hypnotists with large busy practices run those practices squeaky clean. They are strict about following the code of ethics and the standards of practice. They do this for a simple reason--they have large busy practices to protect. They've got a lot of lose if they are ever caught bending the rules.

A serious practitioner takes a heavy hit if he or she gets a Cease and Desist Order for making an improper claim. Worse, he or she would face peer rejection that would mean no more invitations to present at national conventions, no more students to attend their classes and no one who will buy their books or read their articles.

All this is more than enough motivation so that the vast majority of practitioners make very sure that they follow the rules in both the letter and the spirit. They are good role models for new practitioners who want to do likewise and earn their living by becoming real professionals.

Not so the few practitioners who care only about a fast buck. Such persons have absolutely nothing to lose by playing fast and loose. They don't have a good reputation to protect, so there is no worry about peer rejection. There are only a few clients so there isn't a serious income source to protect. Therefore, they'll say almost anything in order to have a chance to make a few dollars on the side.

This sort of thing is probably the most serious obstacle to wider acceptance of hypnotism by the general public. It gives the rest of us an undeserved black-eye.

Entrapment

Charles Giles

This is a nasty scheme making the rounds of the hypnotism community.

It goes like this. Let’s call the company working the con “Beastcorp.”

Beastcorp approaches hypnotists and pitches itself as a service organization. “You just do the hypnotism you trained to do and are good at” they say. “We’ll do all your marketing and advertising. We’ll book the clients, handle the insurance or credit card charges and send the client to you after depositing your fee in your business account by electronic wire transfer.”

Isn’t this a great deal? As a practitioner you never have to do another workshop or public talk. You never had to deal with an insurance company or a credit card merchant. You just show up at your office to do the work you love and you find your appointment book filled and you bank account flush.

Now, as you weren’t born yesterday you ask a few questions. You ask if all of this checks out legally. The reply is reassuring. “Don’t worry,” they say. “We never sanction illegal activity and all our ads are legal.” Cool. It’s almost too good to be true.

Unfortunately, it is too good to be true. At first it seems to work. The clients materialize and the cash shows up in the bank account. Then you actually begin to see the clients.

Hold the phone! These clients are expecting you to do forms of hypnotism that violate the medical or psychological laws where you practice. They expect you to treat drug addictions without a referral. They ask you to “cure” medical problems without a sign-off by their physician. You practice in a state where hypnotism is regulated and you can’t do this without landing in a pot of hot water. So you decline and offer the client his or her money back. The client replies, “I paid a lot more than that!”

That’s when you figure out what’s going on. You see, Beastcorp has been advertising all sorts of services that are illegal for you to do in your home state, but are legal in the Cayman Islands where Beastcorp is incorporated. The people who called in response to the ads were calling a Call Center owned and operated by Beastcorp. They paid with a credit card before they got your name, and they paid a lot. You got only a small percentage of what Beastcorp collected.

So now what do you do? You can obey the law and refuse the client, but the client is going to want a refund and you can’t afford to give them everything they paid out to Beastcorp. For its part Beastcorp refuses to refund the money it collected, because after all, the services advertised are perfectly legal in the Cayman Islands. In fact, a lawyer representing Beastcorp calls to tell you in no uncertain terms that you have a contract with Beastcorp to hypnotize the people Beastcorp sends and that if you refuse Beastcorp can take you to court.

At this point, if you’re smart, you call your lawyer who will tell you that you are legally required to obey the law in your state regardless of what Beastcorp has promised, and that no judge is going to find you at fault for obeying the law. However, Beastcorp is hoping you don’t do that. They figure that you will be intimidated and will do the hypnotism. If you do, they send you a lot more clients on the same basis while they rake in the cash.

Eventually, someone reports you. You show up for work and find a Sheriff there with a Cease and Desist Order. You call Beastcorp and they tell you they never authorized you to break the law. They just were holding you to a contact that is legal in the nation where Beastcorp is incorporated. Then, because Beastcorp “never sanctions illegal activity” and an officer of the law has stated a belief that you have broken the law, they promptly fire you and walk away. You stand there holding the bag. They sign up another sucker.

Now, this isn’t to say that every marketing company or service organization is like Beastcorp, in fact most are not. Some provide good and useful services and are a good option for hypnotists who do not enjoy the challenges and rewards of running a fully independent practice.

However, you need to be careful. My advice to hypnotists who are considering a business relationship like this is to reference widely and deeply to find out what your colleagues think about the company or organization. Call the National Guild of Hypnotists and see if they know anything. Read the fine print in any affiliation agreement and have your lawyer read it too. Always remember that if the deal seems too good to be true it probably is.

In his famous poem “Desiderata,” Max Ehrmann wrote these words, “Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is.” I think that’s really fine advice.

How to Choose a Hypnotist

Charles Giles

An article on “How to Find a Hypnotist” is almost a ritual formality on the web site of today’s hypnotic practitioner. I’ve read literally hundreds of them.

In my experience they tend to fall into two camps. In the first camp we have those who simply take a list of whatever training they happen to have and list it as it if were some sort of an international standard that clients should look for. In one extreme case I encountered someone who had added up his own training hours to obtain some oddball figure like 1,863 hours of training. He then stated on his web site that this was the standard number of hours of training a client should demand of any practitioner he or she consults.

The second camp consists of persons who have undergone some sort of standard training program from one or more of the many hypnotism organizations in America or the United Kingdom. This sounds more authoritative than it is.

I was President of the Council of Professional Hypnotism Organizations years ago and at that time I estimated that there were more than 140 organizations that claimed to “certify” hypnotists in the United States alone. I doubt the situation has gotten any better in the years since.

However, most of these “hypnosis organizations” are tiny little affairs, run by one or two people from a cardboard box stashed in a den. They have no assets or support staff and exist to make a few dollars for the owners. Mostly organizations of this type are simply selling certifications in the way that many unaccredited “universities” sell fake degrees or on-line “churches” sell ordinations as clergy.

Typically, when we see bad publicity about a hypnotic practitioner it is someone from one of these tiny organizations. As the organization has no assets it has nothing to lose by making far-fetched and often illegal claims about what hypnotism can do. They often award elaborate sounding titles even though these titles may violate regulatory legislation in a state, and their members can be shockingly under-trained.

Therefore, be aware that all “hypnosis organizations” are not created equal. Some are real and hold members to high standards of training while others are little more than scams.

In my professional life I’ve given my loyalty to the National Guild of Hypnotists and am now a member of its Advisory Board. This is the oldest hypnosis organization in the world with the largest active membership. It maintains a standardized curriculum, a serious Code of Ethics and rigorous Standards of Practice enforced by an aggressive Ethics Committee. There are Chapter organizations in most states and an active on-line community where practitioners share information and research in the privacy of a restricted Member’s Forum. In the Download section of this website you can find a copy of the tribute to the National Guild of Hypnotists from the United States Congress. However, there are other good organizations.

So what should you look for when seeking a hypnotic practitioner?

First, be sure the person you are considering actually has a hypnotism practice with an office, a business telephone and the other accouterments of actual work.

Weird though it may sound, many people who claim to be hypnotists are not. Because most state governments do not regulate hypnotism there are many people who hang out a shingle who have not, and never will, worked with a single paying client. They make their living doing something else and “practice” as a “hypnotist” in their imaginations. A lot of such folks can be found in the “chat” rooms on the Internet which form a support group for such people as they play what amounts to an anonymous, on-line, role playing game. They will be happy to give you all sorts of advice and I recommend you ignore it.

Second, I suggest you ignore Titles of Practice. Often the marginal organizations award the most impressive sounding titles. Sometimes the titles a practitioner can use are set by state law, sometimes not. In states where the title isn’t regulated there is no real difference between someone who calls him or herself a “hypnotist,” a “hypnotherapist,” or a “clinical hypnotherapist.” In most cases a hypnotic practitioner can call him or herself anything he or she wants when holding services out to the public. Therefore, the exact title doesn’t matter a great deal.

Third, I suggest you regard all college degrees mentioned by a practitioner with a degree of suspicion. Hypnotism is a profession one trains for by attending an approved hypnotism school and passing a certification examination. It is not a profession one trains for by attending graduate school.

As I hold an earned and accredited doctoral degree I obviously believe that education is a fine thing and that a highly educated person brings special skills to the professional encounter. However, education is meaningful only if it is in a field that is relevant to a helping profession. A degree in psychology, medicine, chiropractic, counseling, education, ministry, social work, and so on has relevance to what a hypnotist does. A degree in astrophysics will have very little relevance.

To the best of my knowledge there are currently no recognized academically accredited colleges or universities that offer a degree in hypnotism or hypnotherapy in the United States. While there are people who claim to hold such degrees, the degrees lack accreditation recognized by the Department of Education of the United States, and some are completely fake degrees that are simply sold. While one Institute in California did hold state approval to grant an unaccredited Doctor of Clinical Hypnotherapy degree years ago (and I have some sympathy for persons who hold this degree from that time), it no longer has that approval. Similarly one college in Vermont did offer an accredited Master’s Degree in Counseling and Hypnotherapy years ago, but it no longer offers that degree.

Therefore, if a practitioner tells you he or she has a graduate degree, always inquire what the degree is in and whether or not it is an academically accredited degree. If the practitioner is a member of the National Guild of Hypnotists he or she will give you a copy of a “Client Bill of Rights” that will list all degrees held and will tell you if the degree is an academic degree or not.

Fourth, look for a good reputation. If a practitioner has been in practice for a while he or she should have a pretty good reputation in his or her community. Many senior practitioners do no advertising and fill their practices solely through word-of-mouth from past clients. Type the practitioner’s name into Google or another Internet search engine and see what you find. Ask around. If there is a state-licensed hypnotism school in the state (inquire of the Department of Postsecondary Education in your state) is the practitioner a graduate or do they speak well of the practitioner? Because of privacy laws most practitioners can’t actually give you a list of past clients, but there should be something you can check.

Fifth, find out if the practitioner belongs to a serious hypnosis organization. If the practitioner is certified, check out what the certification means. Visit the web site of the certifying organization and discover whether it is easy or hard to become a certified member of that organization.

Finally, ask if the practitioner is a graduate of a state-licensed, approved or accredited hypnotism school (the exact terminology varies by state). While not all states regulate hypnotism schools, if your state does it makes good sense to insist that someone you are paying for help be a graduate of one. This guarantees that the training of the practitioner has met minimum standards, that the practitioner has been educated about the lawful limits of practice and that the practitioner has passed an examination to show that he or she learned what was taught.

Hypnotism is a fantastic tool to use to increase one’s self-control and abilities. The vast majority of hypnotists are good people who take their craft seriously. But as in most things “let the buyer beware.” A legitimate practitioner will not mind your questions and most will welcome them because they tell the practitioner you are serious about changing your life.

Using Copyrighted Hypnotic Scripts in Professional Practice

Charles Giles

[This article was originally published by Dr. Giles in 2003 in The Journal of Hypnotism]

You’ve just purchased a wonderful new book of hypnotic scripts. It cost a lot. It’s bound with a spiral and was printed on a photocopier, yet you paid $80 for it. Or it cost more than that, and came in a three-ring binder of the sort that cost only a few dollars at the local office supply store.

But the scripts are good. They deal with the topics your clients want to cover. You look forward to using them, especially as one or two of the scripts use techniques you had not thought of.

But then you open the book up and on the copyright page you find something like this: “All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.”

Say what? You mean I paid almost a hundred bucks for a book of scripts that cost the author about a $2 to print and now the author is telling me that I can’t make any use of the scripts in my practice? I can’t “reproduce” the script using my voice with my clients, and my clients can’t make a recording of my use of the script without violating the author’s copyright? What gives?

Perhaps you call a friend with some legal knowledge who, thinking about the legal rights laws surrounding plays or music may tell you that, in fact, you can’t use the scripts professionally. After all, buying a copy of a script for a play doesn’t mean that you can stage the play for a profit without paying royalties to the playwright. Purchasing a piece of sheet music does not mean that you can perform the piece in concert without a royalty payment to the composer.

Do not fear. While, to the best of my knowledge and research, this issue has never been addressed in any court, complaints about copyright abuse are one of the most frequent complaints that the Ethics Committee of the National Guild of Hypnotists has to deal with. Therefore, I want to share with you what our thinking is on this subject. True, a court could rule on this and take a position that is different than the one articulated here, however such a ruling is unlikely, in part, because any court that did rule on this matter would have to take into consideration the findings and policies of the largest and most influential hypnosis organization in the world, the National Guild of Hypnotists.

The issue at hand is a common-law doctrine called the “warranty of merchantability.” This is a legal philosophy that says that if someone sells something, the thing sold must be fit for the purpose it is sold for. You cannot sell spoiled food because spoiled food is not edible. You cannot sell a waterproof case that does not keep out water. If you do these things you have made an error, and quite likely committed fraud.

So for what purpose is a hypnotic script sold for? It is not at all clear to us that a hypnotic script is sold for the same purposes that a play or musical composition might be sold. A person may buy a copy of a play simply for the pleasure of reading it. People frequently purchase sheet music for the pleasure of playing it in the privacy of their own homes for personal amusement.

To the very best of my knowledge no one purchases books of hypnotic scripts in the belief that they are buying fine literature. No one reads hypnotic scripts about “Shrinking Your Prostate” or “Stopping Nail Biting” for personal amusement and enjoyment. Hypnotic scripts are not “fit” for the same purpose as the script of a play or a musical score. Any claim otherwise would almost certainly be held as unreasonable.

The purpose hypnotic scripts are created to serve is the purpose of allowing hypnotists to help clients. That is the purpose they are “fit” for. Therefore, if you purchase a book of scripts you may use them for that purpose. The author has received compensation in the form of the payment you made for the book; you have every right to expect to receive something of value in return. The author cannot escape the implied warranty of merchantability on the book of scripts by adding objections in the copyright notice.

But there are things you may not do with a book of purchased scripts. Most importantly, you may never claim or imply that the script is your own work. Unless the author sells you a special license that allows you to do so, you may not record the script and sell the recording. Nor may you relabel, rebrand or republish the script in any way, except to quote brief sections in an academic or scientific article with the quotations properly attributed.

If you use a purchased script with a client and make a recording of the hypnotic experience for the client’s home use, it is important that the recording be somehow identified as for the unique use of that client and not any sort of commercial product. It should not be something that the client could easily copy and distribute. Nor should you charge the client an extra fee for the recording, which would amount to republishing the copyrighted script.

The usual way to achieve this is to give the client the recording as a gift, and to be sure that the recording contains the client’s name along with some sort of disclaimer that the recording is for the exclusive use of the client only. While you cannot control what other people do, you can protect yourself by insuring that you do all possible to protect the rights of the holder of the copyrighted script. Doing so will provide you with an affirmative defense against any charge of copyright violation.

By taking these few reasonable precautions, you are able to make use of the contents of a book of hypnotic scripts you have purchased.

Want to Buy a Degree?

Charles Giles

[Originally published by Dr. Giles in 2004 in The Journal of Hypnotism]

The pitch was simple and clear. “Take this piece of paper,” the pitchman said. “Now write your name with ‘Dr.’ in front of it.”

“Feels good, doesn’t it?” said the pitchman. He then went on to tell me that for about $4000 I could become a “Doctor of Clinical Hypnotherapy” in return for writing ten book reports. “It’s easy,” he said. “You can write them on just about anything you want.”

Later in this conversation he went on to flash a roll of $100 bills under my nose, assuming, I guess, that the smell would excite me. “You’ll make more money if you can call yourself a doctor” he opined. “Besides,” he said, leaning forward to hold his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart “We’re this close to getting the degree accredited.”

This incident really happened to me about thirteen years ago when I was just getting involved with the national hypnosis organizations. The degree the man was pitching still is not accredited and the pitchman himself has retired, selling his school to someone else who has since moved it to Hawaii where he now offers “Ph.D.” degrees in hypnotherapy and “hermetic science,” whatever that is.

I’ll always remember this incident as it was my introduction to the world of unaccredited and diploma mill degrees. As I hold an accredited doctoral degree that took me eight years of full time university study to earn, I was not very impressed by the offer to get a doctoral degree for ten book reports and a fee. Although I must say that the degree this fellow was pitching is not the worst of the lot by any means. While this is no longer true, at the time he was pitching it the degree did hold approval from his state’s government. Believe it or not, there is someplace in India that will sell you the degree of “Medical Doctor (alternative medicine)” for doing even less work and paying about $800.

Every year people ask the National Guild of Hypnotists what it thinks of these degrees. The official position of the Guild is that it is neutral with regard to them. We neither endorse nor oppose these degrees provided they are used lawfully. However, if you get into trouble because you have used such a degree as part of your professional title, the Guild will not intervene to help you. You did not obtain the degree from us as the Guild is not a degree-granting institution. Therefore, if you need assistance, you must seek it from whatever school awarded you the degree.

The reason we say that such degrees must be used lawfully is that there are states that do not allow you to mention such degrees when holding services out to the public. Further, there are some unaccredited degrees that are illegal (for example calling yourself a “Doctor of Medicine” or using the degree abbreviation “M.D.” is regulated in every state and you cannot escape that regulation by adding a disclaimer in parenthesis). The National Guild of Hypnotists states its belief that you should always obey the law.

The Recommended Standards of Practice of the Guild state that if you possess such an alternative or unaccredited degree and use it while holding services out to the public you should disclose its alternative nature to your clients by using specific wording in your Client Bill of Rights. There is a model for how to do this included with the Sample Client Bill of Rights contained in the Recommended Standards. You can download the Standards from the Guild’s website at http://www.ngh.net. If you hold such a degree and use it in your by-line for an article you write that the Guild publishes, or if you use it after your name in our convention catalogue, you will find that there is a asterisk added by the Guild staff that refers to a footnote saying “denotes alternative, nonacademic degree.” The Guild believes that “truth in labeling” is always a good idea.

If you are contemplating obtaining such a degree, the Guild suggests some points for you to consider in your decision making.

First, be aware that these degrees are increasingly problematic. Because of the popularity of the Internet most people have gotten more than one spam email solicitation offering to sell a doctoral degree in return for little or no work. Even if the degree you are considering is not one of these, you will be placed in a defensive position with your clients when they ask if your degree is accredited. Increasingly, they ask.

Second, beware of schools that try to lure you into paying them with spurious claims. For example, some will tell you that they are “internationally accredited.” This is something of a ruse. There is no international government that has created an accreditation agency. Any such “accreditation” is unofficial and is not recognized by the Department of Education in the United States. Similarly, there are other schools who will tell you that they are “fully accredited” but not tell you the agency bestowing the accreditation is affiliated with the school and is without any official academic recognition. You probably don’t want to be linked to a “school” that pulls something like this.

Third, understand that the laws are changing. There is discussion among consumer protection groups and regulatory boards about further regulation of unaccredited degrees. The Federal Government has begun investigations into its employees who have negotiated pay raises based on such degree and other organizations are sure to follow that lead. One popular proposal will require anyone using such a degree title to add the disclaimer that “my degree does not qualify me to practice any profession” to all advertising. Would this sort of degree really make your advertising look more effective?

Finally, think about your colleagues. When the Guild goes before a state legislature to oppose a law that would restrict your right to practice hypnotism we routinely get questions about people who are advertising services using such diplomas. Whether or not you think such degrees are valid, I can assure you that the lawmakers in your state government regard them with suspicion. Are you helping our profession, or hurting it, when you list such a degree after your name?

The National Guild of Hypnotists believes that a person trains to becoming a hypnotist by attending an approved training program taught by a Guild Certified Instructor, or the exact equivalent. We believe that the credential to use when holding services out to the public should be a powerful private certification from an influential hypnosis organization. There is no organization more powerful than the Guild.

The Importance of Hypnotic Research

Charles Giles

[Originally Published by Dr. Giles in 2002 in The Journal of Hypnotism]

Recently I’ve had two rounds of written exchange of ideas concerning research. The first concerned the new Recommended Standards of Practice of the Guild, which state that claims made for hypnotism should be backed by objective outcomes research. The input I received, almost entirely from Guild members, was uniformly positive. Many expressed relief that the Guild was taking this stand, for they have found that unless they have such research data they cannot get a hearing in the places where they attempt to market their services.

The second exchange of ideas was through a dialogue in a hypnosis email group I subscribe to. I had raised the issue of research, noting that some standardization of techniques was necessary if meaningful research was to be done to demonstrate to the scientific community that what hypnotists do, works.

Well, you’d think I’d suggested committing a crime. While many, probably most, of the participants agreed that having reliable research data would be a good thing, several vocal participants denounced any effort to scientifically validate our results. I found this amazing. Assuming that one is a competent hypnotist, one already knows that what one does works. You see the results of that, day after day, in your office. Clients improve, send their friends, and often send letters of thanks to keep you updated. Why in the world would there be an objection to accurately documenting this, confirming the results with others who choose to adopt similar techniques, and publishing the results in a respected academic journal? The result would be greater acceptance of hypnotism and that would produce a greater demand for hypnotic services from the public. Yet the objections were strident from a few. I wondered why

The first possibility was one that I quickly disregarded. My first thought had been that the folks who objected were frightened of objective research because they did NOT see results in their work and didn’t want the failure to be documented. Every profession has its ineffective practitioners, and I’d first thought that it was those people who objected. However, while this may have been true for some of the voices, a little research of my own showed me that some of the people objecting had good reputations, and this made it likely that they did know what they were doing.

The second possibility was more plausible. In order to be a hypnotist you have to be a person with a good “sense of self” and confidence in what you do. This mindset may lead some people into thinking that what is helping the clients is not so much the professional application of the hypnotic arts and sciences, as the application of the practitioner’s wonderful personality. People who think this way often make it sound as though no one else could get the results they get (even using the same techniques), and therefore see research as anathema. If research showed that the hypnotic arts and sciences were what got the results instead of the practitioner’s wonderful personality, it would seem like a devaluation of that personality. Apparently, some hypnotists care very, very much about how well their wonderful personalities are viewed by others.

A third option also presented itself. Some people objected to any effort at research because in order for research to be done you have to have a degree of standardization regarding techniques. If one practitioner gets his or her results using Guided Imagery and another practitioner gets his or her results using Regression to Cause techniques, it isn’t clear that the results can be compared. In order to compare results, you have to have similar techniques used in the cases you are comparing. This is basic to the scientific method. For many of the voices this was the reason for the anger. They do not want there to be any standardization of techniques. In other discussions these same people were often the ones who objected to professional certification of hypnotists, or to legislation (even if the intent was to protect our right to practice) and who appear to hate national hypnosis organizations such as the Guild with a deep and abiding passion. Several also denounced psychology, medicine and other established professions as worthless.

I found this exchange remarkable. On one hand there were many practitioners who thought the idea of research was wonderful, but on the other there were a determined few who made it clear that such was unwelcome—either because they felt it was a challenge to their self-image or because they feared that someone else might tell them what to do or how to do it. I think it illustrates a deep divide among hypnosis practitioners that will get deeper as time goes on.

On one side are the people like myself who see the hypnotic arts and sciences as wonderful, learnable skills that anyone can acquire through good training. People on this side feel that if you have good techniques and skills, combined with ethical and responsible practice, you get regular, provable, reproducible results—just as you do in medicine, psychology, physical therapy or chiropractic. True, some people will do it better than others, but the expectation is of professional performance in a professional craft that any bright person can learn to do. The orientation is essentially scientific.

On the other side are folks who see hypnotism as akin to an occult art, only practicable by some people who have a hidden gift, who obtain unique results through mysterious methods that cannot be easily communicated. There is an objection to regulation, standardization or certification as such things detract from the glamour of unique power in which they like to be cloaked. This orientation seems to me essentially romantic, in the sense that it appeals to the darker side of the mind where things dwell in shadows, and intuition rather than logic holds sway. It is certainly an attractive position as we all have a bit of the romantic in our makeup, and I’m as fond as the next person of being admired by others. However, it seems to me that this orientation belongs to an era of hypnotism that is passing away, and will soon be as quaint as the gaslight and signet ring.

As the body of scientific research into the value of hypnosis grows and as more conventional medical settings recognize the value of hypnotic procedures, it seems to me that most people will favor the scientific side of this issue. Simply, if hypnotism is seen as a power belonging to a few, there is not much opportunity for the many to break into it. However, if hypnotism is understood as learnable skill that makes a great career, there will be opportunity for people to get involved and to earn a good living from it. If hypnotism is to take its rightful place as a valuable service to the public, science must replace romance as we move forward together.