The power of suggestion…
Instead of helping his vulnerable victim with weight-loss and anxiety issues, ex-RAF man Timothy Porter took advantage of his skills to make her fondle her breasts while he committed a sex act on himself.
After a series of sessions, Porter turned up at her home on the night of December 2 last year when her husband was away.
Despite her reservations, Porter offered to hypnotise her more deeply than before and the pair sat on a sofa.
The amateur hypnotist then persuaded her to expose and touch her breasts while he performed a sex act on himself.
She was roused from the hypnosis and went to the kitchen, the court heard, and Porter tried to restart the session, without success.
Instead, his upset victim rang a friend, police were called and he was arrested.
Porter is being jailed for 18 months. He’s being listed in the sex offender registry for 10 years as well as not allowed to act as a hypnotist during those 10 years. He is also banned from contacting his victim. But this story is odd. Hypnotism is the power of suggestion, not some trance. She overcame inhibitions and maybe at a certain point, it became too much to overcome and she ran away. However, the man did apparently attempt to take advantage of her.
But, she also willingly let go for a while.
The hypnosis showroom provides a social setting where behavior that would usually be considered inappropriate is allowed. If alcohol is involved, an additional excuse for inappropriate behavior is introduced. Looked at this way, showroom hypnosis is a kind of release, a socially acceptable way to let go.
A rather bizarre practice in Malaysia and Indonesia called latah is somewhat reminiscent of what goes on in some demonstrations of showroom hypnosis.
Upon being startled, ordinarily timid, exceedingly polite women sometimes respond with vulgar obscenities and outrageous sexual gestures. Severe cases experience “automatic obedience,” doing whatever they are told, afterward claiming amnesia and thus not held responsible for their actions. (Bartholomew and Radford 2003: 93)
Latah seems to involve a tacit social agreement to act as if one has lost one’s self-control.
However, this does not excuse the therapist’s inappropriate behavior.