Hypnosis refers to states of consciousness where one's focus of awareness is shifted and attention is guided away from external alertness and critical thinking toward accessing subconscious awareness and suggestibility. Self-hypnosis can be used to refocus one's own mind, while hypnosis by an external hypnotist allows another person to provide hypnotic suggestions and cues. Since hypnosis techniques involve relaxing the "conscious," analytical mind and promoting suggestibility, many people are concerned that they could be manipulated or harmed in some way by undergoing hypnosis sessions.
The very factors that make hypnosis a powerful therapeutic tool also create the potential for hypnosis to be used in devious ways by those with non-benevolent or non-therapeutic agendas. Since hypnotherapists wish for their clients to be relaxed and trusting the process of hypnosis, they often brush aside concerns about potential negative effects or negative applications of hypnosis. However, those are truly valid concerns. If a person can successfully plant suggestions in your subconscious mind that you will have less appetite, feel full with less food, detest the taste and smell of cigarettes, and feel no pain during tooth extractions, then why couldn't someone alter the way you perceive and react to other circumstances or realities without your consent?
When used in therapy, hypnosis is an excellent tool to help you shift your subconscious patterns and associations. It can also help you reprocess memories and experiences to perceive them in more peaceful or empowering ways. Hypnosis can help relax the nervous system, reduce pain, and promote healing in the body. It can help you access spiritual guidance and inner wisdom and build self-confidence and cognitive skills. Hypnosis and hypnotherapy have gained widespread recognition and popular acclaim due to these and other benefits. Hypnosis is now one of the most widely used and successful therapies for smoking cessation and weight loss. It is practiced by many medical professionals to assist with treating a wide range of physical and mental health concerns. Hypnosis has been applied effectively for thousands of years to help people overcome various maladies and shift their consciousness in desired ways. For rapid transformation and facilitating positive changes in one's life, hypnosis is one of the most effective resources available.
Since hypnosis relaxes the rational, analytical mind, it leaves a person with less inhibitions and greater suggestibility. To what extent this occurs varies with the person under hypnosis, and can fall along a continuum from minimal suggestibility to maximum suggestibility and minimum inhibitions. The way you would act under normal conditions could be radically different than how you act with your conscious mind and inhibitions relaxed. Once you dissociate from your ordinary self and its values and beliefs then nearly anything becomes possible. This type of phenomenon has been studied extensively by cults and intelligence agencies as well as academic institutions. Some people can be guided under hypnosis to commit criminal or personally embarrassing acts, and can even be programmed to have amnesia regarding their actions once they are cued to shift out of the hypnotic state. Not everyone is this easily suggestible, but some people are. Also, methods where hypnosis is combined with drugs and/or orchestrated trauma can be even more powerful in programming people to act out of character. CIA projects carried out under the MK-ULTRA umbrella in the 20th Century explored how these altered states of consciousness can be activated and exploited. The ancient Islamic assassin cult is recognized as one of the earliest groups known to employ mind control programming methods, as that group used hashish to help induce a hypnotic trance in which individuals were programmed to kill and to believe that they would experience a heavenly reward for their actions.
A number of events in recent decades have been attributed by independent researchers and investigative journalists to the actions of programmed killers. This includes the Columbine High School shooting, the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting, the Oklahoma City Bombing, The RFK assassination and John Lennon assassination, the Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan assassination attempts, and mass shooting events in Europe and Australia. Psychiatrist Colin Ross, M.D. has written books about how cults and government projects have used mind control programming methods to induce trauma and dissociation in individuals who are then manipulated to act in particular ways using those dissociative trance states. Several victims of this type of programming have written memoirs that document abuse by well-known public figures. Examples of this include books by Cathy O'Brien & Mark Phillips (Trance-Formation Of America and Access Denied) and Brice Taylor (Thanks For The Memories).
Self-proclaimed deprogramming experts Fritz Springmeier and Stewart Swerdlow have also written detailed descriptions of the programming methods and codes that are used in some of these programs. These authors tend to focus on the negative use of hypnosis in mind control programming, and Swerdlow strongly discourages his readers and clients from using hypnosis even as a therapeutic tool, since it gives another person access to one's subconscious mind. Swerdlow promotes self-applied visualization techniques that could be considered to be a form of meditation or self-hypnosis.
BLUEBIRD was the initial CIA project under MK-ULTRA which focused specifically on creating multiple personalities and dissociation, which could be used to develop spies and covert operatives who might operate undetected and be unable to recall their actions if caught. ARTICHOKE was another project that explored using drugs and hypnosis to manipulate the minds and behavior of individuals. Other CIA and military projects explored psychic phenomena associated with hypnotic states, including channeling, remote viewing, out-of-body experiences, remote influencing, witchcraft, and precognition. The famous channeled "new age" spiritual text A Course In Miracles happens to have arisen amidst the research of altered states by academic personnel associated with the MK-ULTRA projects.
Currently, concerns about hypnosis and mind control have arisen in the James Holmes case, where multiple witnesses have come forward with evidence suggesting that Holmes was programmed to participate in the Aurora, Colorado theater shootings and/or be framed as a lone-nut patsy used to hide a plot involving multiple assailants. Fellow inmate Steven Unruh has claimed that he was able to communicate with Holmes from a nearby cell and that Holmes appeared to show remorse for what had happened. A key portion of what Unruh claims Holmes told him presents a much different picture of the circumstances behind the Aurora theater shooting than what the authorities and mainstream media have offered.
According to a journalist who interviewed Unruh “He says that Holmes told him 'he felt like he was in a video game' during the shooting, that 'he wasn’t on his meds' and 'nobody would help him.' He says Holmes also mentioned NLP - neuro-linguistic programming, a controversial approach to therapy and personal influence that was developed by hypnotherapy pioneers - and claimed to have been 'programmed' to kill by an evil therapist.” “When he got out to his car, he wasn’t programmed no more,” Unruh says. “It sounded kind of crazy. He was trying to run it by me, basically.” Unruh was also given a phone number that Holmes asked him to call which connected to a bereavement counselor who says she has no acquaintance with Holmes or Unruh. “They’re going to try to discredit my story,” Unruh told writer Alan Prendergast. “But I was able to have a four-hour talk with him. I talked him out of suicide.”
Holmes, a neuroscience student at the University of Colorado Denver campus, was involved in research on the brain and altered states of consciousness. He was also under the care of a psychiatrist at the University who had a military background. On the evening of the theater massacre police responded to a call reporting an apparent kidnapping of an individual dragged into a vehicle in the immediate vicinity of James Holmes' residence. Just a short while after this the theater shootings unfolded. Holmes was apparently picked up by police in the theater parking lot where he displayed no resistance and had no memory of the events that had just unfolded. This is all consistent with someone who was subjected to hypnosis and drugging on and off over a period of time, where he could be easily triggered to dissociate into states where he would carry out programming instructions and then be triggered to shift out of those states and have amnesia regarding what had transpired. It is already documented that government agencies have researched and successfully created the means to carry out this type of programming.
While hypnosis is generally a safe and valuable therapeutic tool, it is important for us to be aware of the potential negative uses of hypnosis and ways in which it may be employed without individuals' consent and to foster actions that could cause harm to society. If you have any concern about the safety of sessions with a hypnotist or hypnotherapist you are encouraged to discuss your concerns and look up any background information and reviews of the practitioner. You can also request that the sessions be recorded or that you have a trusted friend or relative be present to listen or observe. If you distrust hypnosis it is possible that you may remain extra vigilant and keep yourself from relaxing and gaining the benefits of hypnosis that are available in therapy. Thus, it is important to bring yourself to a place of trust in the process.
The vast majority of practitioners are genuine and well-intentioned, so people seeking out hypnosis in most situations have little to worry about. Hypnotists who have violated human rights to foster dissociation and antisocial actions have usually been associated with government sponsored secret projects - these are not the typical therapists you are likely to encounter in your community. Nevertheless, as with any method of healing or therapeutic treatment, if misapplied it can foster harm. Ordinary counseling, pharmacological treatments, and other varieties of therapeutic intervention can also be applied in abusive ways, so having a reasonable amount of caution when dealing with those approaches is sensible as well. It would be nice to have a society where all professionals can be trusted to have ethics and competence, yet we must presently live in and face a reality where there are some people who use their professional roles to inflict harm, either through negligence, ignorance, or with deliberate intent.