The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on July 27, 1969 · Page 84
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July 27, 1969

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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 84

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Des Moines, Iowa
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Sunday, July 27, 1969
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Page 84
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c Wliat c Do c \6u c Know Qttvlfl Att'9 By LIN ROOT are's an up-to-the-minute report on the latest thinking about this controversial and intriguing subject. Do you go to sleep when you are hypnotised? No. Hypnosis is the antithesis of sleep. You con* centrate on the hypnotist's suggestions; your senses are hyper-alert to every clue, verbal and nonverbal. A* good subject will try to give the hypnotist what he wants. It it dangerous to be hypnotised? No. Not if the hypnotist has the requisite training in medicine and psychology. However, it can be very dangerous in the hands of an amateur or unscrupulous hypnotist. Is it painful? No. To see for myself, I was hypnotized by psychologist Peter Field, director of research at the Morton Prince Clinic for Hypnotherapy. I sat in a big armchair. "Lean back and relax," he said. In a soft, monotonous, soporific voice he directed me to feel my feet getting heavy ... heavy; my legs heavy ... heavy; my arms heavy... heavy; and so on until my whole body felt heavy, relaxed, and entirely supported. I could feel the world receding. The voice commanded my full attention. I heard street noises outside, but they no longer seemed relevant. Dr. Field directed me to hold my arm out and sense its weight; to let the weight carry it down, heavy-heavy. Repeatedly he emphasized that my hand was too heavy to lift. "Try to lift your hand." It was indeed too heavy. Secretly, I was confident I could lift my hand if I made the effort, but in my state of relaxed irresponsibility, it seemed just too much trouble. At this point I was quite ready to follow his suggestions. He said, "I will count down from ten, and when I reach one, you will be wideawake." I was. Bonus: As I left the office, I found to my surprise that the headache I had Lin Root writes extensively on medical subjects. carried around all day had completely disappeared. Mutt a hypnotist have special psychic powers? No. Anyone can learn to hypnotize. Even a child can do it, but it should never be used as a game. Is hypnosis medically acceptable today? Yes. In 1958 the American Medical Association finally recognized hypnotism as a legitimate medical tool. Great Britain and the American Psychiatric Association have granted it full acceptance, - Today it is used in psychiatry, dentistry, childbirth, skin troubles, obesity, stammering, heart disease, asthma, sex problems — the list will lengthen between my writing and your reading this artklc. Before the discovery of ether in 1846, thousands of amputations, abdominal operations, and other types of surgery were performed with the patient under hypnotic trance. Today hypnosis in the operating theater is coming back into favor. It can cut down on preoperative sedatives, anesthetics, and narcotics for postoperative pain. Can anyone be hypnotised? Yes. Anyone who can follow directions can, -if willing, be hypnotized to some degree. The deepest state, somnambulism, can be entered by only one person in five. These people frequently have a history of sleepwalking or sleeptalking, according to Dr. Milton Kline, founding editor of the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. A light trance is adequate for work on such problems as obesity, insomnia, smoking, and sex difficulties. Can a person be hypnotised against his wish? No. Not against his real wish. Many people are unwilling to admit that they really want to be hypnotized; to experience the closed-circuit relationship between themselves and the hypnotist, an authority figure; to act on his suggestion without having to make any decisions themselves, or take any responsibility for what they do. When a stage hypnotist calls for volunteers, he is counting on the wish of people to do things they would not dream of doing on their own. By answering his call, most are already acting out the hypnotist's suggestion. He makes a few simple tests to screen out any whose purpose is merely to show him up. Can you achieve super-strength through hypnosis? No. Any increased muscular power cannot exceed your potential. Everyone when sufficiently motivated can call on more muscular output than he usually shows — in an emergency, for instance. Another consideration: the absence of pain or fatigue in the hypnotized person gives the appearance of greatetf strength. Actually both hypnotized and nonhypiWtized individuals can hold their arms stretched horizontally for the same length of time (about six minutes), but the arms of the nonhypno- tized tremble and ache while the a/ms of persons under hypnosis remain steady. Can you improve memory by hypnosis? Yes. Experiments show that meaningful bufsjitt emotional material can be better rememberetras a result of hypnotic suggestion. However, Professor F. L. Marcuse, in his book Hypnosis: Fact and Fiction, points out that the superior memory resulting from hypnosis requires more time by both subject and hypnotist, and questions whether or not the improvement is greater than the subject could have made by himself with the added time. Can hypnosis help you recall forgotten events? Yes. Memories that have been repressed because they are associated with too much pain — mental or physical —are released and become available to consciousness. Hypnosis has proved of value in breaking amnesia. Court records report many successes like the following: A woman found lying off a Maryland highway, wearing only a black dress, claimed she had been attacked and raped, but could not recall when, how, or by whom. When psychologist Ralph P. Oropolo hypnotized her and made her relive the experience, she described the car and the circumstances and named her attacker. He was convicted, and the verdict upheld on appeal. Is it true that under hypnosis a person will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? No. The subject will say what he thinks the hypnotist wants him to say. Dr. Herbert Spiegel, assistant attending psychiatrist at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, warns that a person in a hypnotic trance may lie, make up fantasies, even confess to a crime he did not commit, if he thinks that's what the hypnotist wants to hear.' Can a person hypnotise himself? Yes. Many doctors teach their patients autosuggestion to control insomnia, pain, and anxiety. Dr. Grantly Dick-Read used hypnosis when he started his method of natural childbirth. Can the hypnotist tell if the subject is faking? Yes. He can even determine the depth of a trance. Tests, ranging from the amount of sway when the subject is told he is falling to insensitivity to pain when a sterilized needle is stuck through his skin, indicate the degree of hypnosis. Can you break bad habits with hypnosis? Yes. Thousands of people have quit smoking, drinking, nail-biting, and overeating with the help of hypnosis. If there are symptoms of some deeper psychological problem, their removal does not affect the basic cause, but can leave the patient more vulnerable. At best he may substitute another habit. At worst, removing a habit that has given the patient comfort and masked his deeper problem may precipitate a profound personality disturbance. Obviously a therapist with adequate training in hypnosis is of first importance. Can you remember what took place under hypnosis after you have come out of the trance? Yes — if the hypnotist has told you in the trance that you will remember. No— if he has told you that you will forget. Can you be hypnotised into committing a crime? Yes. There are numerous instances of people committing crimes against themselves when in hypnotic trance. They have drawn wills and withdrawn savings in favor of unscrupulous hypnotists. The sub- "The voice commanded my full attention. I heard street noises outside t but they no longer seemed relevant.. " jects must be persuaded that the act is right and desirable for them. An actual case in Denmark resulted from hypnotic suggestion. A criminal, Johnson (not his real name), was apprehended in the midst of a robbery as he shot and killed two people. He could give no reason for committing the crime. Danish psychiatrist Paul Reiter questioned Johnson under hypnosis. From this and other sources he learned that Johnson had previously been jailed for collaboration with the Nazis. In jail, his cell mate, an amateur hypnotist, in repeated hypnotic sessions assured Johnson that he was destined to unite Scandinavia, so was above the law, and must perform any act to achieve this high end. After their release they continued the hypnotic sessions, and, with Johnson in deep trance, planned a bank robbery to get funds for the unification. Johnson robbed the bank arid turned the money over to the hypnotist. During a second robbery the murders were committed. Dr. Reiter stated that "a sufficiently skillful and cunning hypnotizer has... the possibility of using a hypnotized person as a tool for committing crimes without himself running the risk of discovery and subsequent punishment." The court ruled that the mastermind hypnotist, who was not even present at the site of the crime, be sentenced to life imprisonment. The murderer Johnson received a two-year sentence. Dr. Martin Orne, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, considers Dr. Reitcr's analysis oversimplified. He emphasizes that hypnotism was only one factor in a complex emotional relationship between the two men, and that crimes have been committed in such relationship without benefit of hypnosis. Most -authorities agree that only a subject with criminal tendencies (Johnson had already been jailed for crimes against his country) can be hypnotized into committing a crime. Whether a superbly skillful hypnotist (which Johnson's cell mate was not) could trick an honorable subject into committing a crime, and whether the subject would protect the hypnotist when faced with trial, are questionable. There is no way to find out. The real problem lies in the nature of hypnotism and of human beings. For hypnotism is nothing more than heightened suggestibility. Whenever you accept another's suggestion — where to eat, what movie to see, whether you accept to please someone you love, to be a good sport, to play along with the gang — you are acting in a hypnotic pattern. A mother lulling her baby to sleep practices a form of hypnosis. Dr. G. H. Estabrooks, former professor of psychology at Colgate University, claims that danger from unscrupulous professional hypnotists is negligible. He raises a very important point, however. "There is a danger of a very real sort in hypnotism, but not where the reader has been taught to expect it. The highly emotional orator and mob leader •'*, from the psychologist's point of view, a much more effective hypnotist. . . . We must learn to discount him. We should refuse to be stampeded by his appeals to k hatred and prejudice." Q THIS WEEK Monotint / July 11, l»4»

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