Is it ethical to suggest to a subject they enjoyed the hypnosis session?
Tao of The Crown
This is a question for more of an advance group of practitioners in my opinion. Recently I received this question and my first thought was to dismiss this question. Is it unethical to give positive commands that the subject enjoyed themselves in a session seems moot, does it not? As I thought about it the person was likely responding to something deeper. The person writing to me argued that these commands rob the subject of the agency to decide for themselves whether or not they liked being hypnotized. How might you answer this question?
My thoughts on this are presuming the subject came to you both desiring and expecting to enjoy the session with you. I don’t believe reinforcing the subject with positive emotion such as enjoyment is unethical. They came to you to enjoy and experience the session and reinforcing enjoyment will not change the result of a bad session. No one should make the assumption that subjects cannot reject suggestions or commands. In my experience subjects will reject suggestions and commands if they don't like them or if they are incongruent with what actually believes. In other words, if the subject didn't enjoy the hypnosis then they will likely reject the suggestion or command to like it. If the subject wasn’t enjoying it and was uncomfortable, even if they were given a command of enjoyment, they would likely come out of trance. The question is about ethics and has little to no flexibility for actual experience in my view. It’s asking for is it right or wrong. To answer it I need to compare the question to other circumstances.
What if you were regressing the subject and run into a past experience or memory that has been causing them issues or emotional blocks. Is it wrong to state that the memory no longer affects them? Is telling them they had a good time different than telling them they didn't have a bad time or forgetting the bad time? Giving someone amnesia even with consent is different than the question, but could it be unethical to someone? Yes, I believe someone could have a problem with it too. I won’t divert much onto this point as it takes me off topic.
I believe it comes down to this. If the subject didn't have a good time, telling them that they did won't change much if it was a bad time. Telling them that the bad times didn't happen or forgetting them is questionable. This is deviating far the simple question of enjoyment but to fully answer this question I believe it needed a comparison. No one is going to discuss and get consent for every possible combination of command and suggestion to empower someone. While this may be a useful thought experiment I believe that ethical questions like this can also be fearmongering. Fact is, we are constantly influencing each other when we spend time and play with each other. I've been to parties where I was kind of bored, but when my partner said to me later "The people were great! That party was awesome!" I felt better and happier about that party. My partner had not hypnotized me, she was just expressing herself. While hypnosis is powerful it is not a magic spell that a person is unable to resist. She helped make a neutral experience better, but if I had a bad experience it wouldn’t have helped. I bet sharing that bad experience may have made her reflection back on it less than awesome.
The only way that enjoyment in this example becomes unethical for me is if enjoyment is attempted to be forced onto someone. When you do a debrief with a subject after a session listen carefully and refine what you share with them. Ensure you set limits and stay within the limits you both agree to. Making hypnosis magic commands can also rob potential subjects of their agency. Hypnotic fearmongering happens but I think it is up to us to push back on it. If somehow I am limiting a person's agency by offering encouragement to have a more enjoyable positive experience, I'm guilty as charged. 😏
What are your thoughts on this question? Would you answer any differently?
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Joseph W Crown
Enjoy your toys and give the gift of Mind Control to those deserving few.
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