Is Hypnosis Dangerous?

Beliefs About Hypnosis and Expectations of Negative Effects

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A detailed study and critical analysis of the available literature and evidence from clinical, experimental and entertainment hypnosis including a comprehensive review of hypnosis in popular art and culture.

This research was instigated due to the high profile Court case of Gates v McKenna (1999). Christopher Gates (plaintiff) suffered schizophrenia after taking part in an on-stage hypnosis performance by hypnotist Paul McKenna.

This work attempts to answer the questions pertaining to the alleged incidence of negative effects arising from the use of hypnosis in clinical, experimental, therapeutic and entertainment contexts.

It is argued that any such negative effects arising from the application of hypnosis do so not because of any dangers inherent in hypnosis itself or its techniques and applications but are due almost entirely to pre-existing beliefs about hypnosis and expectations of possible negative effects based on widespread misunderstanding about hypnosis as a discrete altered state of consciousness.

The essence of the case presented is that in fact hypnosis is not such an altered state but a psycho-social context in which compliance and belief are integral factors.

This argument is presented within the context of the academic dispute between physiological 'state' and social compliance 'non-state' theories.