[Published in Fortean Times, no. 62, April-May 1992, p. 63.]

Against Their Will

Further evidence against the assertion that hypnotised persons cannot act contrary to their own moral code may be readily found (see 'The Eyes Have It', FT58:36). William Corliss's The Unfathomed Mind: A Handbook of Unusual Mental Phenomena, for example, describes a set of experiments in which hypnotised subjects stuck their hands into a box containing a rattlesnake and threw acid into the face of an experimenter. (The snake was fake and the experimenter's face was protected by unseen glass.) Corliss gives the source for these experiments as Loyd W. Rowland: 'Will hypnotised persons try to harm themselves or others?' in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 34(1939):114-117.

Leo Katz's book of unusual legal cases, Bad Acts and Guilty Minds: Conundrums of the Criminal Law (1987, Univ. of Chicago Press, pp128-133), describes cases from Germany where unethical hypnotists induced patients to give them large sumes of money, commit crimes, and attempt murder and suicide (these attempts were all failures). Katz's source is Paul J. Reiter, Antisocial or Criminal Acts and Hypnosis: A Case Study (1958, Ejnar Munksgaard, Copenhagen.)

Jim Lippard
Tucson, Arizona