Health Ministry educates public about hypnotists

Only physicians, psychologists and dentists are entitled to study and perform hypnosis, Health Ministry says.

By
March 26, 2012 02:45
2 minute read.
Hypnosis [illustrative photo]

Hypnosis hypnotists "You're getting very sleepy" 370. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)

 
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Due to abuse by unauthorized hypnotizers, the Health Ministry’s Advisory Committee on Hypnotism has launched a public information campaign via the Internet about who is authorized to “put people under” a suggestive state.

Israel was the first country in the world to pass a hypnosis law to regulate the treatment, said the advisory committee, which was established in 1984. Anyone lacking a license to hypnotize may not do so. Only physicians, psychologists and dentists are entitled to study hypnosis and perform it after completing a recognized course and passing a special test, the committee said.

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Among the tasks of the advisory committee is to identify “charlatans who work in hypnosis without having a license and under the guide of alternative treatment, guided imagery, NLP healing, Hypno- Birthing” and other techniques. Anyone who performs hypnosis without a license has committed a criminal act and is liable to a year’s imprisonment, the committee said.

The current head of the committee is Dr. Alex Aviv of the Abarbanel State Mental Health Center in Bat Yam; the head must be a Health Ministry employee who is licensed to perform hypnosis. There are six other members, three of them representing the professions legally authorized to perform hypnosis.

Hypnosis is defined as a “trance-like state characterized by extreme suggestibility, relaxation and heightened imagination,” usually induced by a procedure involving a long series of preliminary instructions and suggestions. When used for treatment by an authorized professional, it is called ”hypnotherapy,” while when used as illegal entertainment for an audience, it is known as ”stage hypnosis.”

Hypnosis usually is carried out by relaxation in which a person concentrates on one thing such as hearing music or watching a movie and ignores everything else.

Suggestions bring about changes in a person’s awareness and can even cause bodily changes in feelings, perceptions, thinking, memories and behaviors.

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According to Aviv, the public has faulty thinking on hypnosis, much of which comes from “magicians” who claim to have put people under hypnotic spells as entertainment.

Movies have also depicted hypnosis as a mysterious or mystic supernatural phenomenon in which the hypnotist supposedly controls the body and mind of the person who has been put under.

But the advisory committee notes that hypnosis cannot be used to “control” a patient or cause him to act against his will or in violation of his ethical principles.

As stage hypnosis is illegal, the committee aims at locating violators, especially through the media, mediums, entertainers and others. When its members identify suspects, they report to the police and the State Attorney’s Office so that the violator is stopped and punished. In recent years, the committee said, it has succeeded in preventing a number of people from illegally performing hypnosis.

Hypnotherapy by a qualified professional can relieve pain, be used to prepare for childbirth, alleviate anxiety before a medical or dental procedure and minimize the side effects of medications.

The ministry’s website at www.health.gov.il has information about hypnosis (in Hebrew).

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