Many Chinese under the spell of hypnotism

Many Chinese under the spell of hypnotism

Source: Global Times Feb 26 2010

  • By Yin Hang

Soothing music creates a dreamy atmosphere in the room, while the hypnotist murmurs to his patient, "Calm down, relax and then wake up" in a slow but authoritative tone. The patient has been suffering insomnia. Now, he opens his eyes, seemly relieved of a heavy load in the wake of a hypnotic trance.

This use of hypnosis as a medical cure is being advertised by a growing number of clinics in China, claiming that a deep trance can help people get better sleep, ease stress, relieve pain, induce people to stop smoking or even lose weight.

On the online forum tieba., over 50 Web users posted their contacts saying they can provide hypnosis therapy.

The purported benefits of hypnotism have given birth to a large number of believers who want to become professional hypnotists or simply try their hand at putting people into a deep sleep.

Recently, experts have warned that possible psychological damage could be inflicted by unlicensed clinics, illegal training classes and amateur hypnotists in China's booming market for hypnotic therapy.

"As far as I know, there are only two qualified hypnotists in China," said Wu Rengang, a psychology professor at Peking University and a psychiatrist at the No. 2 Hospital of Beijing.

Wu told the Global Times that it is impossible to master the skills of hypnotism needed to treat patients simply by attending a weeklong training course.

"Maybe you can learn how to hypnotize someone within a week, but to become a professional hypnotist requires the skills needed to provide proper psychological guidance after hypnosis," Wu said.

She warned that those who want to try the effects of hypnosis at a training class should never attempt to hypnotize someone else because it might worsen their mental problems.

In Jilin Province, a 28-year-old cook, Wang Zhilong, saw hypnotic treatment for the first time on a TV talk show program. Since then, he has been deeply attracted to hypnotism, but also worries about professionalism in the market.

"I feel so absorbed by hypnosis. It's amazing," Wang told the Global Times. "I want to master it, but I'm afraid there are too many fraudulent training institutions right now."

A Shanghai-based hypnosis training center that boasts of being a pioneer in the field told a Global Times reporter that even a junior high-school graduate could master the skills of a professional hypnotist by attending the center's eight-day training program.

"The nation's famous hypnotists will lecture at the courses, using hands-on teaching methods. We guarantee that you will master all skills needed to conduct hypnosis, exactly like what our teacher mastered," said an anonymous female assistant at the training center.

She repeatedly suggested that a reporter watch teaching videos on the center's website. One video shows a man under hypnosis, fast asleep but performing acrobatic moves on verbal commands of the hypnotist, who is surrounded by a group of students.

The tuition fee for the weeklong program is 12,800 yuan ($1,875) according to the assistant, a fee equal to the average tuition cost of four semesters at an accredited university offering psychology courses.

Similar training centers and seminars can be found in cities like Beijing, Xi'an, Zhengzhou and Guangzhou, all claiming that their teachers are hypnotists with reputations.

Thus far, there are no existing laws or regulations to guide the establishment of hypnosis training programs.