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September 1961

Antisocial and Criminal Acts Induced by "Hypnosis": A Review of Experimental and Clinical Findings

Author Affiliations

From the Medfield (Mass.) State Hospital, the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, and the Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1961;5(3):301-312. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1961.01710150083013

Between the years 1888 and 1927 Bernheim, Liebault, Binet, Moll, Schilder, and other investigators participated in an ongoing debate concerning the question: Can immoral or criminal acts be induced by hypnosis?18,21,24,31 Evidence accumulated during recent decades has provided an answer: Some persons who are said to be "hypnotized" can be made to commit acts which are defined by objective observers as dangerous, criminal, or immoral—to steal,17,37 to violate sexual mores,26 to injure themselves, to injure others,33,38 to attempt murder,29,36 and to commit manslaughter.31 The problem at hand is not, Can such acts be elicited by "hypnosis,"28 but, Which of the many concrete conditions subsumed under the abstract term hypnosis are instrumental and which irrelevant to producing such behavior? To provide an answer to the latter question, the present paper reviews all pertinent experimental and