Blog Post

Mass Hypnosis Event Goes Awry at Quebec School

A group of middle-school aged girls in Quebec were left in a trance for up to five hours after a "mass hypnosis" demonstration by an inexperienced hypnotist was unable to wake them up.

According to The Blaze, the event occurred last week at the College du Sacre-Coeur in Quebec where 20 year-old Maxime Nadeau was called in by school administrators to do a hypnosis demonstration as part of an end-of-the-year lunchtime show. When the demonstration was over, Nadeau was unable to reverse the condition of several girls, aged 12 and 13 years, one of whom remained in a trance for almost five hours.

Nadeau eventually called in his mentor and trainer Richard Whitbread to help reverse the effects. Whitbread, who lived more than an hour away from the school, came at once and found several of the girls sitting with their heads lying on the table.

" . . . (A)nd there were [others] who, you could tell, were in trance," Whitbread said. "The eyes were open and there was nobody home."

Whitbread was able to bring them out of the trance by telling them that he was "re-hypnotizing" them and then using a "stern voice" to bring them around.

The Huffington Post is reporting that 13 of the students later reported having headaches or being nauseous after the demonstration. At least five others appeared to be experiencing more serious trouble, with some walking around in a daze and two others remaining at the table with their heads down.

School administrators were stunned by the aftermath of the "show" and admitted that they did not realize hypnosis could produce such side effects.  They were also unaware that hypnosis is not recommended for children under the age of 14 because the young are particularly susceptible to it.

The incident is a prime example of why so many countries have banned the use of hypnosis in stage shows.  There is a very real danger of adverse post-hypnotic reactions to hypnosis, which is why this should only be conducted by a licensed medical practitioner rather than by "lay hypnotists" who do not have adequate training for such emergencies.  Licensed medical practitioners who offer hpynosis typically have seven to nine years of university coursework for either a medical or dental degree, plus additional supervised training in internship and residency programs.

A lay hypnotist, on the other hand, can be certified after just 200 or more hours of training.

As for Catholics, the Church has warned - but not condemned - the use of hypnosis by the faithful. According to a Response of the Holy Office of June 2, 1840, accessed via the Catholic Encyclopedia, “She has condemned only abuses, leaving the way free for scientific research. ‘The use of magnetism, that is to say, the mere act of employing physical means otherwise permissible, is not morally forbidden, provided that it does not tend to an illicit end or one which may be in any manner evil'."