There has been quite a lot of coverage about this story… basically it is a man, a doctor, who is accused of fondling his patient… Yet the coverage gives it a far more sinister slant by suggesting that because hypnosis was used, it is somehow even more sinister… Let me explain.

You can read about this story here at myfoxmemphis website, or here at KLTV website… But I am going to quote a more detailed version of the story from News Channel 3 in Memphis, it states:

A Collierville doctor is accused of fondling a woman under hypnosis.

Dr. John O’Connell was released on his own recognizance. He faces a charge of Sexual Battery.

The alleged victim was a co-worker of his at the Lakeside Behavioral Health Center. She told authorities she was trying to kick a smoking habit.

“She got into a conversation with the doctor who indicated he could give her a hypnosis lesson to help her stop smoking,” said Steve Shular, spokesperson for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Dept.

The woman accepted the offer. Court papers state the first session seemed to help, so when O’Connell approached her a few days later for a second one, she agreed. Except this time he offered to take her to his satellite office in Lakeland.

In his own statement to detectives, Dr. O’Connell admits to hypnotizing the woman at his “satellite office,” which was loacted at the Relax Inn on Canada Road.

Now this is nothing to do with the use of hypnosis, is it? It is her potentially obeying a respected doctor and professional who she takes advice from, the man could potentially be seen to be stretching out that trust he has. Surely alarm bells shoudl start ringing if any health professional makes these kinds of suggestions. it is incredibly unprofessional and unethical to make these kinds of suggestions regardless of the mode of therapy.

The article continues to later say: 

Court papers state the victim was hypnotized while she was lying on the bed.

“He took off her socks and shoes, that later led to her shirt,” said Shular.

What, what, what??
No professional in any capacity should be undressing a patient. This has no relevance to what therapy is being used, this is just wrong and is malpractice, no? The article then adds this:

Court papers state Dr. O’Connell repeated “You are very relaxed and will not remember this when you wake up” to the alleged victim. She says he then fondled her breast.

“She was aware, she said, that something was going on, she couldn’t control it, couldn’t stop it,” said Shular.

So now hypnosis is being portrayed as somehow paralysing the individual? There is no documented evidence that I have ever come across outside of cartoons or comedy film portrayals that suggests hypnosis can render someone immovable… maybe she froze with fear or anxiety, but hypnosis cannot do this to someone, it is a myth.

Dr. O’Connell told detectives the woman allowed him to pull her shirt up and massage her shoulders and back with lotion. He says when he offered to take off her bra, she said no and he obliged.

Two weeks later he admits to calling her to apologize.

State records show the 32-year veteran doctor has never been disciplined before.

He could spend a maximum of 6 years behind bars. He was a contracted employee at Lakeside. A spokesperson says he is now no longer working there.

If proven guilty, the guy deserves his sentence, but hypnosis is no more a tool of his wrong doing than his blatant malpractice and unethical misuse of trust and influence upon a patient. So why the play on hypnosis… it makes it more intersting for the media, heck, why didn’t they photoshop a cape and evil sneer on his face or dress him up like the Svengali??!