Last year I made a promise to myself that however frustrating, irritating or exasperating I found many of the threads, comments and contributions in the various social media hypnosis and NLP forums, I was resolutely NOT going to get dragged into the bullshit. Instead I decided that I had one of two options available to me and that I could either distance or disassociate myself with the unecessary shenanigans and regurgitated crap that seemed to perpetually fly around, or observe it all with a dignified silence. I think too, the concerns and worries I had in organising and promoting the very first UK hypnosis convention also served as a constant reminder me of the potential upside that remaining impartial could bring in terms of ticket sales and footfall.
With this in mind, throughout the course of the year I maintained a neutrality in situations where I may have felt compelled to chime in or tell someone to S.T.F.U. In hindsight I was much the better off for it and though I sometimes felt pangs of guilt for not jumping to the defence of certain easy targets in some of the acerbic exchanges, in truth their supervisors or trainers should have stepping in on their behalf anyway.
Quite why hypnotists, hypnotherapists and NLP’ers feel so compelled to perpetually argue is beyond me, though we can hazard a guess that the extremes of ego and insecurity, combined with having way too much time on their hands (..and with fifty clients a day to boot!…ahem) and an actual lack of real congruence in what they are doing all contributed in some measure as to why barely a day went passed last year without a quarrel breaking out in any one of the ‘professional forums’. The actual truth is that the vast majority of the profession has long periods with not enough work and are completely uncomfortable with what they are doing as there is very little in the way of actual congruence – though you’ll find plenty of people trying to convince themselves and others that it’s there in abundance and, because of this too much utter bollocks is tolerated.
(There is another blog coming out on personal congruence, where I am at professionally and the big changes that I am making to the business and what I do).
They say that empty vessels make the most noise and it does not take any great leaps of the imagination to deduce that there are a lot of hypnotists, hypnotherapists, NLPers and then trainers of all of the above, running on empty and constantly making a dreadful and pointless din because of it. Quite what the general public think of the cat-calling and verbal exchanges is anyone’s guess, but let’s assume that it doesn’t wholly endear them to the hypnosis profession.
Yet for all of the tiresome and regurgitated arguments I managed to sidestep last year, there is one topic which pulls me in every time and that is because I find it way more harmful to the industry than the problems of the aforementioned egos and insecurities (and their daily jostle for the position of he or she that knows best) and that topic is the unholy marrying of telepathy or psychic powers to hypnotherapy. As a result I had barely made it out of the first week of 2017 before I found myself publicly (and constructively might I add) trying to snuff out the presented notion that telepathic hypnotherapy was a ‘thing’ and there was research to support it.
It isn’t and there wasn’t. In case you haven’t realised already, telepathy and hypnosis are not connected in my opinion BUT even with the most fanciful thinking, we were to assume they were, they still shouldn’t be discussed in the same breath.
Because hypnosis is an enigma and because hypnotists and hypnotherapists cannot entirely agree on what it absolutely is, a few in the profession feel they have carte blanche to incorporate other phenomena deemed as unexplainable into it too, in this instance ‘telepathy‘. Before we discuss telepathy or specifically ‘telepathic hypnosis‘ let me just say that this is not an exercise in judging anyone who believes such a thing exists (though for my part there is no credible evidence to substantiate its existence) but rather judging it as an affront to hypnotherapy and hypnosis and more sinisterly, a potential vehicle to exploit the needy, gullible and vulnerable.
A thread was posted on one of the better LInkedin hypnosis forums under the banner of ‘telepathic hypnosis’ and the linked article (about research that wasn’t research, or was research long since refuted) led me to a website with a gofundme link seeking donations for £5000 to fund research into: Bringing relief from negative voice intrusions and educating and informing the psychiatric community of the efficacy of drug-free methods – all of which is on a website worryingly connecting said research to hypnosis and hypnotherapy.
Here it is, who knows you may want to send them a few bob…
Where to start…
Well firstly, anyone with half a brain will look at the scant proof and evidence cited to support telepathic hypnosis and with minimal research or effort of their own be able to dismiss it very quickly. This isn’t the first debate or argument I have had about telepathy and psychic ability and I pointed out on the thread that many people who vehemently support such notions often reminded me of the typical ‘conspiracy theorist’. Both cherry pick subjective and immediately dubious data, throwing it out there as fact and when challenged, tell others to join the dots and to do the research themselves, as its all there to find (but surprisingly difficult to be produced by them when asked). They may also point you in the direction of other sources with equally empty premises but stating them as fact in the hope you don’t see the deliberate mistake, all the while telling you of regurgitated anecdotes that clearly never happened to them personally.
Secondly, if you are going to make claims (especially contentious ones) realise that, rather than be defensive, accept rather reasonably that the responsibility to back up those claims and validate them should lie absolutely with you. The originator of the original post on Linkedin and the owner of the above link disappeared when the questions and comments became a little too specific, but not before sharing with us: ‘I didn’t ‘know’ until I looked, and when I found the evidence I put it to the test. So, now I can confidently say ‘I know now‘ – though for someone asking for Five grand to fund knowing even more than he knows already, he doesn’t quite get round to sharing or demonstrating to us so that we know exactly what it is that he knows, at least in any digestible form. The problem is if you do make statements and especially if you use words like ‘research’ and ‘evidence’ the burden of proof is on you to back it up when people question you.
(My friend Adam Eason, who as far as I am aware does not teach telepathic hypnosis (sic) as part of his extensively researched Hypnotherapy Diploma syllabus, wrote a piece last year on Bertrand Russells Teapot theory and the burden of proof here).
Lastly and most importantly of all, may I very strongly suggest that if you are a hypnotherapist and you have a client come to you with voices, or who is professing to being spiritually or demonically possessed (or even tells you they’ve donated to a gofundme page to research it using hypnosis ha!) refer them to a psychologist, psychiatrist or GP immediately. Do not assume to think you should help, do not assume to think you can help them and do not assume to think anyone in the profession will appreciate you for trying to help them. If you are a hypnotist and think it is your responsibility to take it upon yourself to work in this area, may I suggest even more vehemently that you adopt a different professional title altogether. I sincerely hope that any member of the public checking out the above link alone will express grave concerns that someone describing themselves as a hypnotherapist is offering resolution to such problems (or has the audacity to ask people for more money to do more of the same) because the alternative is that they are assuming this is the status quo and that the whole profession should be given a wide berth.
Disturbingly, the thread has unearthed other proponents of telepathic hypnosis, who despite offering more flimsy and contradictory arguments such as citing other defunct and discredited research organisations (who ironically also survive on donations from the dim and deluded) also talk of demons, curses, demons summoned to control people, offering telepathic interpretation and so on and so forth. What the thread doesn’t have is enough fellow professionals publicly saying ‘what the fuck are you talking about this for on a hypnotherapy thread?’ and this is needed because this unhelpful conversation should not be allowed to flourish within the realms of normality, let alone as a professional discussion amongst hypnotherapists.
As churlish and crap as much of the infighting I mentioned at the start of the blog may appear to the ‘average joe’ looking for some help, it is the perceived acceptance by the general hypnotherapy community of bullshit like this as normal that is going to make prospective clients run full speed in the direction of the nearest CBT therapist or counsellor and I for one wont blame them. Isn’t it ironic that many hypnotherapists expend so much energy in the derision of the likes of CBT as a viable therapy, whilst not regulating their own profession, when a quick comparison of the googled searches ‘telepathic hypnosis’ and ‘telepathic CBT’ illustrates that whereas the latter is seen in terms of a solution to spiritual problems connected with delusions of telepathy, the former in many instances includes the notion of telepathy as an acceptable and proven part of the process.
If the hypnosis and hypnotherapy profession ever has a chance of growing and maturing to the levels CBT has done (in a much shorter space of time) it needs to stop being so bloody stupid. The reason so hypnotherapists fail isn’t like so many suggest, because there are too many hypnotists, the reasons so many fail is because there are way too many stupid ones. Sadly there are lots of amazing ones too who are being done a great disservice by either the few or the apathetic.
Think about it. What is the point of mentioning ‘telepathic hypnosis’ ever unless you want to target a very tiny, specific and quite frankly, gullible clientele? Regulated profession or not, at what point did those hypnotherapists who deviated into this special kind of hypnosis think the professional ethics and responsibilities of referral didn’t apply to them at all when it came to working with potentially psychotic clients?
Hypnotists lament why the profession remains in the shadows of less effective therapies or techniques and its because we tolerate this kind of crap in the mainstream more than they do and for that we will all be judged stupid until we are not.