Principal Under Fire for Hypnotizing Students

A Flori­da high school prin­ci­pal is under fire for hyp­no­tiz­ing sev­er­al of his stu­dents. The actions came to light after one of his stu­dents com­mit­ted sui­cide, although there is no proof of the con­nec­tion between hyp­no­sis and the sui­cide oth­er than cer­tain deroga­to­ry ele­ments of the pub­lic stereo­type of hypnosis.

The prin­ci­pal, Dr. George Ken­ney, from the news reports, is no ama­teur regard­ing hyp­no­sis: he wrote four books on using hyp­no­sis for var­i­ous stu­dent-relat­ed prob­lems includ­ing test anx­i­ety and sports per­for­mance, and on at least two report­ed occa­sions hyp­no­tized stu­dents with their par­ents’ con­sent. Ken­ney’s cre­den­tials seem very legit­i­mate, as he learned hyp­no­sis at the Omni Hyp­no­sis Train­ing Cen­ter in DeLand, Fla.

Still, the con­tro­ver­sy fuels the pub­lic mis­con­cep­tions of hyp­no­sis in a large­ly neg­a­tive way, and thus the sub­ject itself is a vic­tim, as well.


First off, while he may have done so for the most inno­cent of rea­sons and pur­pos­es, still the per­cep­tion remains that he may (and I repeat may) have done so on minors espe­cial­ly with­out the per­mis­sion of their par­ents or guardians. In many juris­dic­tions, that is ille­gal and could very well even be termed crim­i­nal assault. That said, accord­ing to the news reports, in the case of the stu­dent who com­mit­ted sui­cide, his par­ents did give the prin­ci­pal per­mis­sion, to help the stu­dent deal with test anx­i­ety. He is under police inves­ti­ga­tion based on a 1961 law that pro­hibits the prac­tice of ther­a­peu­tic hyp­no­sis by lay hyp­no­tists with­out the super­vi­sion of a med­ical pro­fes­sion­al. Ken­ney faces a sec­ond-degree mis­de­meanor pun­ish­able by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine if convicted.

Sec­ond­ly, he did so despite the explic­it injunc­tion by the school board against such actions. Why the board made such a move, and that it is report­ed that Dr. Ken­ney lied about such actions, does not bode well for him and the sub­ject of hyp­no­sis in general.

How­ev­er, what I find slight­ly trou­bling is the 50-year old law against lay hyp­no­sis which does not acknowl­edge the present state of hyp­no­sis as it is prac­ticed today. I also have to won­der how often such a law has been applied in recent years.


1 comment to Principal Under Fire for Hypnotizing Students

  • It was not so long ago that prac­tic­ing Chi­ro­prac­ty was a felony in some states. May still be for all I know, but here in Cal­i­for­nia we now have Doc­tors Of Chi­ro­prac­ty, and some is cov­ered by insur­ance. Until recent­ly the laws in Cal­i­for­nia were some­what anti Hyp­no­sis. Many local ordi­nances more so, and for­bade its prac­tice. These have now been superced­ed by the more per­mis­sive state law. But using hyp­no­sis on minors with­out parental con­sent is ask­ing for trou­ble. I’m sure this gen­tle­man want­ed to help, but parental rights can­not and should not be ignored. Every client I get under 18 years old has to have signed per­mis­sion from a par­ent or per­son “in loco par­en­tis.” There are many laws which are not enforced. But if you wave a red rag at a bull, a neg­a­tive reac­tion will prob­a­bly occur. Old laws will be brought out, dust­ed off, and applied. hyp­no­sis & hyp­nother­a­py Los Angeles