It is something I should be championing you’d think, wouldn’t you? Yet I have more questions than ever about this move here in the UK whereby Police are being funded to go on a hypnosis course.

This hypnosis article in the Telegraph states:

Officers are being encouraged to sign up to a course by Tom Silver, who is better known as a ‘celebrity hypnotherapist’ on American chat shows, in an attempt to gain more information from suspects.

Mr Silver, who has appeared on the Montel Williams and Ricki Lake chat shows on US TV, where he gave a guest an “orgasmic handshake”, normally charges £1,000-a-day for courses in his home country.

But after being contacted by PC Mark Hughes, of Cheshire police, Mr Silver – a master hypnotist – agreed a ‘free one day taster course’ for cops before they sign up to his six day course, costing £1,500.

First up, I’d say that the UK has some of the world leading and foremost authorities in the field of hypnosis, people who have contributed masses of empirical evidence and research to the body of material on this subject. The UK homes some of the most progressive and highly respected schools in the world. Why oh why would they not seek out someone like Graham Wagstaff, Michael Heap or at the very least someone whose main claim to fame is not going to milked and criticised in the media as a ‘celebrity hypnotherapist’ who did an ‘orgasmic handshake’ on the Rikki Lake show? When we have such a plethora of brilliant minds, authors, researchers and teachers here in the UK, people with vast backgrounds and experience in forensic hypnosis and the theory underneath it… Why oh why do we not spend money on them? They are on our doorstep!

Ok, so next up, the article goes on to say:

The course will teach students ‘cutting edge techniques’, including an introduction into Electroencephalography (EEG) and will be paid for out of police coffers, according to respected industry magazine Police Review.

EEG is the recording of electrical activity in the brain gathered by placing sensors on the scalp which monitor ‘neuron activity’ – which cops believe can help ‘encourage’ suspects and witnesses to tell the truth.

PC Mark Hughes, an investigative skills trainer with Cheshire Constabulary, personally organised Mr Silver’s trip to the university in June next year.

He said that ‘forensic hypnosis’ is a the ‘next logical step’ for investigators to use when other ‘more traditional methods’ fail and said officers interested in new techniques should sign up to the course – despite its cost.

PC Hughes told Police Review: “Putting people in a receptive brainwave state makes it likelier that the truth would come out.

“Forensic hypnosis is a scientific approach as helmets monitor brain activity and anyone who is lying would have wide-awake brainwave patterns.

“Forensic hypnosis does not prove guilt but it can give new lines of enquiry when traditional methods have failed.

“I have studied neuro-linguistic programming where you look at language patterns and eye movements to see if someone is lying.

“For me it is the next logical step for investigators to take.

“It is the next frontier.”

Oh my oh my… This is exasperating to read, isn’t it? There is a very large body of evidence to demonstrate and indicate that there is no set of eye-movements that indicate truth or lies. There is empirical evidence to suggest as much. They eyes do move when people think and communicate, but it tends to be different for all of us… There is much evidence online to show as much, let alone if people actually looked deeper and further. It is even conceded by many NLP training schools, my own included.

As a basic starting point, have a look at Kevin Hogan’s research on the subject of eye-accessing cues and then to explore further, consider some of the sources and evidence given here at the NLP and Science page on Wikipedia.

Yet this basic premise has been overlooked and a top police officer is making claims. It goes on…

David Pickover, a former assistant chief constable of West Yorkshire Police and Police Review’s legal editor, said: “It is difficult to imagine circumstances where hypnotism is sensible or necessary but there is nothing to prevent officers from suggesting it to witnesses.

“The notion of regressing a witness so that a more accurate record of events is stimulated sounds an attractive proposition but we must recognise that the boundaries of hypnosis and its worth are still vague, at the least viewed with suspicion and at the worst with total scepticism.

“Evidence obtained under hypnosis would unquestionably be intensively examined by courts and viewed with extreme caution.”

Well quite right. Hypnosis has been dismissed by courts of law all over the world in recent years due to its lack of efficacy and reliability in ‘extracting’ the truth from alleged crminals. Again, there are huge bodies of evidence to suggest that it is not best used in this manner. Hypnosis is not some truth serum that can be applied and people suddenly spill their guts, again much, MUCH evidence indicates this. The article ends like this:

Silver has previously appeared on Ricki Lake, where he gave a woman an “orgasmic handshake”.

He hypnotised a woman called Jamaica to “sleep”, before he told the audience he would give her the “greatest orgasm” of her life when she woke up and shook a man’s hand. She then woke up and lunged on men getting more excited.

Well, that is just marvellous… Hopefully he’ll show our police force how to do this trick, eh? Maybe the stereotypes of stage hypnosis that mislead public opinion could be lessened if a more suitable person be chosen. I rate Tom Silver, his work is great… Yet we have some incredibly well respected authors and researchers in this country who have devoted years to the field of forensic hypnosis, who have appeared in court on many occcasions and have experience in this field… Yet, such a police initiative, which should be delighting people like me and correctly educating the public about it’s virtues is being promoted (even by the broadsheets) as being run by the ‘orgasmic handshake’ trainer.

This should be a massive step forward, a way of showing the true efficacy of hypnosis and hypnotherapy… instead we get soudbites of inaccuracies and petty nuances likely to have people questioning why on earth it is being done.


This has made me go all ‘bah humbug’ this morning… Better go and find something to laugh at… 🙂