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Karle, H.W. (1987). Hypnosis in psychotherapy in the 1980s. Free Associations, 1(8):58-80.

(1987). Free Associations, 1(8):58-80

Hypnosis in psychotherapy in the 1980s

Hellmut W. A. Karle

For many years, hypnosis has been effectively excluded from the orthodox practice of psychiatry and psychology, and relegated to the more dubious fringes of these fields. Minor exceptions have been references to its use as a means of relaxation, and as a part of supportive psychotherapy (Stafford Clark, 1970). By contrast, in recent years it has achieved recognition as a valuable tool in many areas of medicine and surgery. As long ago as 1955, the British Medical Association (BMA) gave official approval to the use of hypnosis in the treatment of physical disorders and of psychoneuroses, and recommended that medical students should receive a basic training in its use (BMA, 1955). That report (by a special committee appointed by the BMA) suggested further that junior doctors in psychiatry should receive a more detailed training in the use of hypnosis, and also that psychologists should be permitted to use it, albeit under the supervision of a medical practitioner. This report expressed very similar views to a report made by an earlier committee of inquiry appointed by the BMA (1892), which was, like that of 1955, largely ignored.

Without much éclat, however, hypnosis is now to be found in quite extensive use in various specialities in the medical services and in dentistry, although this is perhaps more the case in countries other than Britain, especially Australia and the USA.

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