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British Society of Clinical & Academic Hypnosis (BSCAH)
I have Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of London (1966) and Reading University (1978) encompassing the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Zoology and Psychology. In 1981 I obtained my Doctorate from the University of Oxford. It was while there that I began a life-long active interest in Hypnosis, joining the fledgling British Society of Experimental and Clinical Hypnosis.
I became Chair of Council of BSECH; then continued in that role when society mergers resulted in the current BSCAH. I joined the Royal Society of Medicine, where I served as President of the Section for Hypnosis and Psychosomatic Medicine, and I am currently President of BSCAH.
My career included working as a psychologist for the UK Ministry of Defence, where I developed an interest in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I have subsequently observed and commented upon the parallels between PTSD and hypnosis.
I am principally an academic, retiring from the Open University, with Emeritus status, six years ago. I have since been made Visiting Reader in Psychology at the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science. I am a Chartered Psychologist and member of the British Psychology Society (BPS). Some years ago I co-authored a document for the BPS, explaining the nature of hypnosis and giving recommendations regarding its safe and ethical use. Because misuse can result in false memories, the British False Memory Society invited me to join their scientific advisory board and give advice on hypnosis. I now chair that body.
I have two enthusiasms: acquiring knowledge and imparting it. I am still research active and attend conferences. For example, at a joint meeting between the British and Spanish Experimental Psychology Societies (Granada, 2010) I set up a symposium on hypnosis and, as some will know, I gave two papers at the ESH Congress in Sorrento. As a strong advocate of the public dissemination of science, I am regularly asked to give lectures at the major British Science Festivals, frequently covering aspects of hypnosis.
In the UK we frequently encounter scepticism among medical professionals, who doubt that hypnosis has anything to offer. In contrast, many members of the public hold unrealistically optimistic beliefs about hypnosis and, unable to make informed choices, turn to lay hypnotists, with all the difficulties that can imply. I believe we should gather more high quality scientific evidence showing the effectiveness of hypnosis and explaining its mechanisms. Once we have a good body of data, then making the facts widely known will help to promote hypnosis to its rightful place, where it is recognised by professionals and understood by the public.
That summarises my hopes for ESH where, by acting as one, the different constituent societies can follow a research programme that ultimately will lead to better therapy for more people. One busy clinician cannot easily produce significant data, but a well-designed programme can facilitate easy data gathering and, combined with others, can provide definitive answers to our questions. Armed with those, we give our lectures and bombard the media!