Conditions regulating the exhibition, demonstration or performance of hypnotism

Hypnotism Act 1952

Conditions for hypnotism, mesmerism or any similar act or process which produces or is intended to produce in any other person any form of induced sleep or trance in which the susceptibility of the mind of that person to suggestion or direction is increased or intended to be increased.

1. Applications

The Licensing Authority to be informed in writing 28 days in advance of the performance of:

a) the name (both real and stage if different) and address of the person who will give the performance (hereafter referred to as the ‘hypnotist’), together with details of their last three performances (when and where) the performance or demonstration took place.

b) a statement as to whether, and if so giving full details thereof, the hypnotist has been previously refused or had withdrawn a consent by any licensing authority or been convicted of an offence under the Hypnotism Act 1952, or of an offence involving the breach of a condition regulating or prohibiting the giving of a performance of hypnotism on any person at any theatre or other place of public amusement or public entertainment.

2. Publicity

a) No poster, advertisement or programme for the performance which is likely to cause public offence shall be displayed, sold or supplied, by or on behalf of the licence holder either at the premises or elsewhere.

b) Every poster, advertisement or programme for the performance which is displayed, sold or supplied shall include, clearly and legibly, the following statement: “Volunteers, who must be aged 18 or over, can refuse at any point to continue taking part in the performance”

3. Insurance

a) the performance must be covered by a reasonable level of Public Liability Insurance, evidence of which must be provided to the licensing authority and be available for inspection during the performance.

4. Physical Arrangements

a) the means of access between the auditorium and the stage for the participants shall be properly lit and free from obstruction.

b) A continuous white or yellow line shall be provided on the floor of any raised stage at a safe distance from the edge. This line shall run parallel with the edge of the stage for its whole width. The hypnotist shall inform all subjects that they must not cross the line while under hypnosis, unless specifically told to do so as part of the performance.

5. Treatment of the audience and subjects

Before starting the performance the hypnotist shall make a statement to the audience, in a serious manner, identifying those groups of people who should not volunteer to participate in it; explaining what volunteers might be asked to perform; informing the audience of possible risks from embarrassment or anxiety; and emphasising that subjects may cease to participate at any time they wish. The following is a suggested statement, which might be amended as necessary to suit individual styles as long as the overall message remains the same:

“I shall be looking for volunteers aged over 18 who are willing to be hypnotised and participate in the show. Anyone who comes forward should be prepared to take part in a range of entertaining hypnotic suggestions but can be assured that they will not be asked to do anything which is indecent, offensive or harmful. Volunteers need to be in normal physical and mental health and I must ask that no one volunteers if they have a history of mental illness, or are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or are pregnant.

b) no form of coercion shall be used to persuade members of the audience to participate in the performance. In particular, hypnotists shall not use selection techniques which seek to identify and coerce out on stage the most suggestible members of the audience without their prior knowledge of what is intended. Any use of such selection techniques (e.g. asking members of the audience to clap their hands together and asking those who cannot free them again to come on to the stage) should only be used when the audience is fully aware of what is intended and that participation is entirely voluntary at every stage.

c) If volunteers are to remain hypnotised during an interval in the performance, a reasonable number of attendants as agreed with the licensing authority shall be in attendance throughout to ensure their safety.

6. Prohibited actions

a) the performance shall be conducted as not to cause offence to any person in the audience or any hypnotised subject.

b) The performance shall be so conducted as not likely to cause harm, anxiety or distress to any person in the audience or any hypnotised subject. In particular, the performance shall not include:

  • i. any suggestion involving the age regression of the subject (i.e. asking the subject to revert to an earlier age in their life; this does not prohibit the hypnotist from asking subjects to act as if they were a child etc.);
  • ii. any suggestion that the subject has lost something (e.g. a body part) which, if it really occurred, could cause considerable distress;
  • iii. any demonstration in which the subject is suspended between supports (so called ‘catalepsy’);
  • iv. the consumption of any harmful or noxious substance;
  • v. any demonstration of the power of hypnosis to block pain (e.g. pushing a needle through the skin).

c) the performance shall not include giving hypnotherapy or any other form of treatment.

7. Completion

a) all hypnotised subjects shall remain in the presence of the hypnotist and in the room or place in which the performance takes place until all hypnotic suggestions have been removed.

b) All hypnotic or post-hypnotic suggestions shall be completely removed from the minds of the subjects and the audience before the performance ends. All hypnotised subjects shall have the suggestions removed both individually and collectively and the hypnotist confirm with each of them that they feel well and relaxed (the restriction on post-hypnotic suggestions does not prevent the hypnotist from telling subjects that they will feel well and relaxed after the suggestions are removed).

c) The hypnotist shall remain available for at least 30 minutes after the show to help in dealing with any problems which might arise. (Such help might take the form of reassurance in the event of headaches or giddiness, but this condition does not imply that the hypnotist is an appropriate person to treat anyone who is otherwise unwell).

8. Authorised access

a) where:

  • i. a police officer; or
  • ii. an authorised officer of the licensing authority; has reason to believe that a performance is being, or is about to be, given, he/she may enter the venue with a view to seeing whether the conditions on which approval for the performance was granted are being complied with.

Additional conditions imposed by Horsham District Council

1. The exhibition shall be so conducted as not to be likely to cause harm to any person attending it.

2. No person shall be caused, while under the influence of hypnotism, to do or say anything offensive to the public.

3. No exhibition, demonstration or performance shall include –

  • i. Any experiment involving the age regression of the subject;
  • ii. The giving of hypnotherapy or any other form of treatment;
  • iii. Any experiment in which the subject is suspended between two supports (so called “Catalepay”); or
  • iv. The giving of suggestions to the subject that he/she should perform any act or behave in any manner which is likely to be interpreted as indecent, offensive or harmful, nor that he/she would consume any substance which is either noxious or harmful;
  • v. Hypnotism of any person under the age of 18 years.

4. All hypnotic or post-hypnotic suggestions shall be completely removed from the minds of the subjects (including those of the audience) before they leave the room or place in which the performance takes place.

5. The exhibition shall conform to the description submitted to the licensing authority.

6. No inducement shall be offered to members of the public to subject themselves to the influence of the hypnotist.

7. No poster, advertisement or programme relating to the exhibition shall be displayed, sold or supplied, by or on behalf of the licensee either at the premises or elsewhere, which is likely to be injurious to morality or otherwise offensive to the public feeling.

8. Every poster, advertisement or programme relating to the exhibition displayed, sold or supplied on the premises shall draw attention, in a clear and legal manner, to the prohibition on the hypnotising of persons under the age of 18, imposed by Section 3 of the Hypnotism Act 1952.

9. This permission confers no protection on the performers named, for any criminal proceedings or civil action which may be brought against them.

10. The performer shall provide a telephone number and address (or telephone numbers and addresses) where they can be contacted during the two weeks following the performance.

11. A doctor is to be available in the building throughout the performance and for one hour after the performance concludes. The name and address of the Doctor to be provided to the Licensing Authority at least ten clear working days in advance of the event.

12. The attention of the Premises Licence Holder and the Designated Premises Supervisor is drawn to the provisions of the Hypnotism Act 1952.