Hypnotist principal faces questions after suicides

Discussion in 'Up to the Minute' started by mysticrose, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. mysticrose

    mysticrose The key to change... is to let go of fear

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    NORTH PORT, Fla. (AP) — High school principal George Kenney acknowledged using hypnosis to help people: students who needed to relax before tests, a basketball player having trouble making free throws and even school secretaries who wanted to quit smoking.

    But now the popular 51-year-old principal's future at North Port High School is in question since it came to light that he had hypnotized two students before their separate suicides this spring. There is no indication their deaths were any more than a tragic coincidence. However, Kenney acknowledged conducting the sessions after being warned by his boss to stop such one-on-one hypnosis with students at school.

    Most students, teachers and fellow administrators at the southwest Florida school were aware that Kenney was a trained hypnotist who would eagerly help those who sought him out for sessions, according to a school district report. Students looked forward to his demonstrations in a psychology class and at other school events.

    http://www.myqwest.com/news/read.php?rip_id=<D9OCRUD80@news.ap.org>&ps=1011&page=1
     
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  3. Eileen730

    Eileen730 Former Member

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    I live right down the road from that HS and if you ask parents what they think about the principal they will tell you of all the students he has helped. I for one do not think the Hypnosis was what caused the suicides and im not alone in my thinking.
    I chose not to send my son to North Port HS because of all the problems associated with the school maybe if they focused on the drugs the gangs etc etc and what these kids problems really were... Hypnosis wont make you kill yourslef!

    This is a very nice man that only wanted to help his students!

    I wanted to add this school has had its share of deaths this year car accidents and suicides!
     
  4. Melanie

    Melanie Inactive

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    I wonder if the parents knew he was hypnotizing them? I would be be livid, as my child is a minor and would want to be aware of such a thing.

    I can't assume if this contributed to the suicides or not (as there may have been underlying probs). What was he hypnotizing them for and why?

    As a parent I do have problems with this...

    MOO

    Mel
     
  5. wfgodot

    wfgodot Former Member

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    He was warned to stop. Three times he was warned to stop. Why there's even a question of employment after his bosses warned him that often is beyond me.
     
  6. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    Both of the suicides had been hypnotized only after getting signed permission slips from their parents. According to the principal, he always had parental permission before using hypnosis on students.

    In the first case, five months passed between the hypnosis session and the suicide.

    I really don't think you can hypnotize someone into wanting to end their own lives. (I'm using that awkward wording to allow for the possibility that you could lower someone's anxiety about an activity--say, walking in traffic--that might be lethal without being intentionally suicidal; but I'm not sure about even that. As a rule, I don't think you can hypnotize a person into doing something s/he doesn't want to do.)

    Hypnosis isn't magic.
     
  7. shadowraiths

    shadowraiths LISK Liaison, Verified Forensic Psychology Special Staff Member Moderator

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    Quite true. They're investigating the sort of stuff hollywood movies are made of. While such might be good for an episode of Criminal Minds, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support the concept that a hypnotist can plant a suggestion much less trigger it such that the recipient becomes an suicidal automaton when said trigger is activated.

    That said, I will admit, I am rather surprised they're even considering hypnosis as a possible factor in these tragedies. Afaics, if the man were in any way involved with these kids' suicide, it would more likely be due to something mundane. Abuse of power, slipping the kids drugs, sexual improprieties,... that sort of thing.
     
  8. mywarmbluefleece

    mywarmbluefleece New Member

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    I went to a public university and was having anxiety problems, so I went to see a counselor there. We tried hypnosis. She explained it at the beginning. They can't make you do anything you don't want to do and it is impossible to be hypnotized if you don't want to. It requires focus. It is almost exactly the same thing as guided relaxation. This is what I understood from a few attempts at sessions- I could never be hypnotized because I couldn't give up control of myself.

    While I do think he shouldn't have been hypnotizing students, it seems he picked students who were at risk anyways. This is something important I learned in college: correlation does not equal causation.
     
  9. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    We should clarify that we are talking about the hynotist's very limited ability to suggest a subject take a specific action in the future.

    I believe there is considerable evidence that some people are highly suggestible about past events, and it is possible to suggest to them a memory of something that never happened. This is why many (most?) courts don't allow testimony from a subject who has been hypnotized.
     
  10. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    Very well put.

    I also make a poor subject. But my husband is a trained psychotherapist with more than a few courses in hypnosis and he will confirm exactly what you learned from your counselor.

    Like I said, I'm not a great subject. (With no training whatsoever, I was actually able to hypnotize my husband more easily than he could hypnotize me!) But nothing in my experience of being put under would suggest that I could be forced to do anything against my will.
     
  11. shadowraiths

    shadowraiths LISK Liaison, Verified Forensic Psychology Special Staff Member Moderator

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    Right. But that generally involves cues.

    Correct. At this point in time hypnotically refreshed memories are not allowed as evidence in that testimony to support their veracity does not meet Frye (1923) or Daubert (1993) standards of admissibility. Moreover, outside of a court of law, there is at issue the question of risk wrt to "recovered memories" and informed consent. It should be noted however that this issue is still hotly debated.

    That said, while I doubt we're looking at a case of suggestion or recovered memories, Iow how this law ( link ) relates to a school principal? In fact, I'm wondering if the reason the school asked him to stop is bc he wasn't licensed?
     
  12. Reader

    Reader New Member

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    Hypnotist Principal Faces One Year in Jail, If Guilty

    A Florida high school principal faces two misdemeanor charges for practicing therapeutic hypnosis without a license on students, three of whom have since died.

    George Kenney, 51, was known to hypnotize students to help them achieve better test scores and peak athletic performance, despite being warned by his superiors to discontinue the practice. The popular principal allegedly defied those orders.

    More at link....
     
  13. AlwaysShocked

    AlwaysShocked Well-Known Member

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    I think this man should have been fired long before now. He had been told three times not to do this, and they didn't fire him?

    And I cannot imagine a parent giving permission for this!
     
  14. wfgodot

    wfgodot Former Member

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  15. Rayemonde

    Rayemonde New Member

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    I really don't think these people died because they were hypnotised.
     

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