Hypnosis On Trial, The Jury Of Public Opinion

Recently, poor publicity has been spread about hypnosis. A case here in Florida involving a principal who used hypnosis on students and teachers has been in the news. The families of three North Port High School students who died after being hypnotized by former Principal George Kenney will receive $200,000 each from the Sarasota County School District under a settlement agreement unanimously approved by the School Board at its meeting last Tuesday night. The Board stated that they just want to put the events behind them.

The $600,000 settlement closes a year- long case that began after former North Port High School Principal Kenney admitted he hypnotized 16-year-old Wesley McKinley a day before the teenager committed suicide in April 2011. A subsequent investigation found that Kenney hypnotized as many as 75 students, staff members and others from 2006 until McKinley’s death. One basketball player at the school said Kenney hypnotized him 30 to 40 times to improve his concentration.

The case was settled without going to trial, but has raised concerns about the safety of hypnosis. Hypnosis…the very word conveys dramatic images. The public either imagines a strange character waving a pendulum or a group of silly people on stage acting like ducks. Both of these images imply that hypnosis can be used to control your mind. Nothing could be further from the truth. No one can ever use hypnosis to control another person. The individual gives their permission when they are being hypnotized. In fact all hypnosis is self-hypnosis and it is an incredible tool for managing the mind.


“Contrary to how hypnosis is sometimes portrayed, you don’t lose control over your behavior while under hypnosis,” experts at the Mayo Clinic write. “You generally remain aware of and remember what happens under hypnosis.”

The human mind and its processes have always seemed mysterious and fascinating, but learning the nature of the mind has become the province of experimental science only during relatively recent times. “Hypnosis is a mental state, not, per se, a treatment,” says Dr. David Spiegel, medical director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. “People think it is a means of taking away control, but it is actually a means of enhancing control over perceptions such as pain, anxiety, habits, stress.”

More and more we have become aware that there is a tremendous connection between what happens in our minds and how it affects our bodies. Most of our serious diseases are thought to have some contributing mental and emotional factors. There is research on creating wellness that includes beginning with our minds and emotions. Visualization techniques are being widely used to help fight disease and its’ symptoms. There are also many non-therapeutic uses of hypnosis for instance sales, public speakingĀ and sports that enhance performance and improve success.

It is in some ways unfortunate that this case never came to trial. Hypnosis was tried in the court of public opinion and was found guilty by association. It does not mean that hypnosis caused these events. I have many, many clients like you, dear reader who has used hypnosis to successfully make changes. I love the many ways that hypnosis can benefit any and every one! Whether it is to stop smoking, shed those extra pounds or overcome fears and phobias, hypnosis is a wonderful tool to have.

Because of the publicity, I have had many inquiries from individuals and even concerned colleagues. People who were afraid that this would send hypnosis back to the dark ages. I believe that this has opened up a dialogue that will help everyone to better understand just how easy it is to make powerful and positive strides in life with the use of our own minds!