Saturday, July 27, 2019

Arrest of Florida Hypnotherapist Signals Need for Caution

In a grim reminder to exercise caution choosing emotional support systems and mental health services, a Florida man was arrested and charged with being a psychotherapist engaging in sex with a client or former client. Robert Andrew Nichols, who advertises himself as a hypnotherapist who offers psychospiritual therapy, was charged by Gainesville police. 

The specific nature of the hypnotherapy sessions is not yet clear, but a woman who initially met Nichols while she was a student in adult education classes he taught at Santa Fe College reported he asked her intimate questions about her sex life. Nichols unexpectedly kissed her on the lips and invited her to his house to continue the appointment. The couple reportedly ended their professional relationship and continued to engage in what was termed sexual therapy and ritual magic.

The Gainesville Sun reported:
Florida statutes state that "Any psychotherapist who commits sexual misconduct with a client, or former client when the professional relationship was terminated primarily for the purpose of engaging in sexual contact, commits a felony of the third degree..."
The state defines a therapist as a person licensed under various statutes "or any other person who provides or purports to provide treatment, diagnosis, assessment, evaluation, or counseling of mental or emotional illness, symptom, or condition."

The story is reminiscent of extremely questionable and unethical applications of hypnosis conducted by so-called investigators of alien abduction. In the 1990's a series of actions by John Carpenter, a Missouri Licensed Mental Health Counselor and hypnosis advocate, became known as the Carpenter Affair.

John Carpenter
By his own admission, Carpenter provided copies of some 140 case files of alleged alien abductees to controversial philanthropist Robert Bigelow. In at least some instances recordings of hypnosis sessions were included. The hypnosis subjects, or alleged alien abductees, were not informed their files and data were shared. Carpenter, who served as the MUFON Director of Abduction Research at the time, was provided $14,000 in compensation from Bigelow for what Carpenter described as the discrete arrangement.

Carpenter married two of his former clients, one of whom was among the 140 whose files were released without consent to Bigelow. An administrative hearing followed a complaint filed to the Missouri Board of Professional Registration. Carpenter's actions in "dual" and "multiple" roles with his clients were examined, along with the inherent dysfunction. 

The result was a five-year probation period enforced upon Carpenter's license in 2001. Stipulations included submitting to a psychosocial evaluation for an impaired professional and adhering to the subsequent treatment plan.

David Jacobs
Other abusive and unethical actions were committed by amateur hypnotist and self-styled alien abduction researcher David Jacobs. He conducted dozens of hypnosis sessions by telephone with Emma Woods. She ended the relationship in 2007 and published audio clips from their sessions showing his remarkably unscrupulous behavior. Among the most infamous occurrences were his request for her undergarments and an offer to send her a chastity belt, each done during phone hypnosis sessions. Also remarkable were the widespread rationalizing and lack of condemnation within a UFO genre bent on maintaining a narrative at seemingly all costs. 

Such documented instances of misconduct veer alarmingly close to the case of Michael W. Fine. In 2016 the former Ohio attorney was sentenced to twelve years in prison stemming from hypnotizing several female clients with neither their knowledge nor consent, then sexually accosting the women. 

Fine's is an unusually well documented and established case of such allegations. Police received similar complaints from multiple female clients, conducted surveillance, and obtained specific details of his abusive actions. His techniques reportedly included directing the women during hypnosis to not recall what had taken place.

While exchanging emails with Emma Woods and obtaining what would become material included in The Greys Have Been Framed, Woods informed me Jacobs administered something she termed "amnesia blocks." These were instructions to not recall information discussed during their sessions, Woods explained, and she supplied me an audio file of an example. 

From pages 54-55:
I downloaded and played the file, in which Jacobs instructed, "I want you to become very, very relaxed. Now this is a session that I want you to be able to just put into a corner of your mind - in sort of a, a vault-like structure nobody can get into - behind a brick wall that is totally inaccessible to anyone. The vault is shut tight. Your memories are in there. You can access them a little bit when you want in the future, but the point right now is nobody will know that you remembered this. Nobody can get to that part of your mind that is sealed. This is your private part of your mind. No one can access it. If someone tries, even if they try hard, even if they're powerful, it will not matter because the harder they try, the more they will not be able to access it, the dimmer it gets, the smaller it gets, the tighter it gets. They will not know that you have remembered this. They will not know. You will not allow it. This is your mind. They will not be able to access it. It is too far out of reach for them – locked in that vault, behind that brick wall. No matter what they do, they will not be able to get to it. You are strong. You will be able to keep it from them.
"Now I'll bring you out of this again. Five, coming out of this..."

It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of prioritizing caution while seeking support, particularly within the UFO subculture. Hypnosis as a memory enhancer is conclusively unreliable and is extremely ill advised as an investigative tool. 

If seeking other kinds of emotional support or investigative services, you are empowered and entitled to request clear explanations of methods, objectives, and projected outcomes. If service providers are hesitant to commit to you or if you feel apprehensive about the relationship, be extremely cautious. There are many instances of individuals who sought assistance who were only provided more damage to heal.