This week in my local paper, The Watford Observer, there was an article about a man who had sexually abused young boys by hypnotising them. The articles headline was “Teacher “hypnotised” pupils before assaults”. This story was picked up by at least one national and several regional papers who again repeated the belief that the pupils were assaulted because they were “hypnotized”.
I want to make clear that whatever happened to the pupils was wrong, absolutely, and the abuser, Peter Clulow, fully deserves any punishment that he is given, but, is it possible to use hypnosis to make people do something against their will? No, it is not. I write the following as an explanation of hypnosis and not to belittle, condone or justify what happened in the case referred to above, if anything I write in support of the pupils. Please read the whole post to understand.
Any evidence gained by a person using hypnosis is not allowed to be used as testimony in a court of law because people can lie in hypnosis just as they can when not in hypnosis, but it seems that in this case the defence tried to convince the court that Clulow used “hypnosis” to ensure that the victims “would not suffer”. Is the act of hypnosis accepted in an English court or not? It would be extremely interesting to look at the transcript of this case and exactly how hypnosis was thought of and referred to in this particular case with regard to its standing and definition in English Law.
Advertisers, marketeers and salesmen bombard us with suggestions all the time because they want us to eat their chocolate bar, use their washing powder, drive their car etc. Persuasion, manipulation and influence is used by many people and organisations and, like it or not, we are surrounded by it. But do we act on every suggestion we are given? No, we don't. We will only act on suggestions that are acceptable to us. If any suggestion goes against anyone's moral, ethical, spiritual or religious beliefs, the suggestion will not be accepted. No-one can be made to do anything that is unacceptable for them to do.
If hypnosis can be used to make anyone do anything, and I give these examples to my clients, I would be living on a Caribbean island with Kylie Minogue, Christina Aguilera and Katherine Jenkins mopping my brow and feeding me grapes, I would be working for multinational companies to ensure that they were awarded the contract as opposed to their competitors, I would gladly be working for MI5 and MI6, I would have a 100% success rate and would probably charge £100,000 per hour. But I don't, because no-one will do anything that goes against their in-built survival mechanism given to them by God, Mother Nature or the Universe.
Hypnosis can not be used to turn violent prisoners in to model prisoners, terrorists in to road sweepers, Muslims in to Jews or Jews in to Muslims, Catholics in to Protestants or Protestants in to Catholics. In hypnosis, no-one will do anything that is morally, spiritually, ethically or religiously offensive to them. In hypnosis, if someone is given a suggestion that they find unacceptable, it will not be acted upon.
When I work with people that have been raped or sexually abused, the initial underlying feelings that they usually have are of feeling dirty, feeling worthless and very often feeling guilty, as if it was their fault.
Generally, adults who are raped are raped by people that are physically stronger than them or they are drugged. Children who are raped/sexually abused are abused by people who are stronger than them or by people in a position of trust and/or authority.
The first thing that stands out in the therapeutic work that I do with people that have been raped or sexually abused is the basic need for human survival. If a rapist has a knife to someones throat and demands a sexual act, the most primal need that we have at any moment is to survive. One of the first things that I do is point out to the victim that it wasn't their fault, the rapist is the one with the mental problems, not them. This in itself is usually a massive emotional release. It takes a lot of courage to accept that it wasn't their fault, but this simple acceptance helps the process of moving on emotionally.
Most children or young adults that are sexually abused by authority figures have no concept of a healthy sex life. At the initial point of abuse, they are sexually confused, part of them wants to explore the sexual pleasure, part of them knows it is wrong, but mainly they just want to survive. Children or young teens will appease the rapist/abuser in order to survive. I would need several more hours to go in to the whole concept of the emotions involved so will keep it simple. It is entirely possible that a young teenager or child who is being sexually abused will go along with the authority figures suggestions simply to survive.
How many people who have been raped or sexually abused never admit it because of the shame that they feel, usually shameful of the fact they they let it happen, which of course is the wrong belief?
Can hypnosis be used to rape or sexually abuse? No. Persuasion, manipulation and influence occurs in every town centre on a Friday and Saturday night, people chatting each other up and having sex. But could any person hypnotise any other person in to having sex with them against their will? No. Could someone who has been raped or sexually abused state that they were hypnotised in to having sex with someone? Yes.
Ignorant, sensationalist and naive views about hypnosis don't help anyone, hypnotherapy can be the quickest and most beneficial way of helping victims of rape and sexual abuse, not the other way round.
No-one deserves to be raped or sexually abused, woman, man, girl or boy, no-one.
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