The use of hypnosis as a medical therapy is being undermined by cowboy practitioners with little training who have caused serious harm to patients, specialists say today.
Hypnotherapy is a proven treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice), and research has shown that it provides effective pain relief to women in labour.
But the extension of the technique to other areas of medicine is being hampered by its misuse by inadequately qualified practitioners.
Specialists from the Royal Society of Medicine's Section of Hypnosis and Psychosomatic Medicine meeting in London tonight are to discuss ways of combating the threat and increasing the medical use of hypnosis which they say could save the NHS millions of pounds. Peter Naish, senior lecturer in psychology at the Open University and president-elect of the hypnosis section of the RSM, said many lay hypnotherapists were using techniques which induced damaging "false memories" in the belief that current traumas stemmed from episodes of abuse in the past which were so terrible the memory of them had been suppressed.