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Hypnotherapist Cats: A Real Threat

Hypnotherapist Cats: A Real Threat

This week I’m going to take you back to my native North East – imagine if you will the taste of fresh stottie, the smell of the River Wear and the lush and verdant scenery of Durham’s forest. And then forget most of that, because it’s in no way relevant to what we’re about to talk about. Which, specifically, is an episode of the BBC One North East show Inside Out. The show this week featured George Jackson’s success in registering with a professional-seeming organisation of hypnotists. Many people might think a little odd, given that George is in fact a cat.

In the show, which took a look at the hypnotherapy industry and the sham claims to legitimacy of many practitioners, presenter Chris Jackson decide to test just how easy it is to set yourself up as an “accredited” hypnotherapist with absolutely no qualifications. Rather than register himself, he decided to try the Ben Goldacre approach and aim for feline registry – and he discovered that using a fake diploma and paying a pretty nominal sum it was alarmingly easy to set his moggy up as a ‘genuine’ hypnotherapist.

The stunt is reminiscent, of course, of Hettie Goldacre’s success in achieving membership of the American Association of Nutritional Consultants (AANC), despite being both a cat and dead. Ben registered his deceased moggy in order to show up the nutritionist and non-doctor Gillian McKeith’s claims to accreditation – reports of the whole affair can be read in full on his excellent Bad Science blog. As I’m sure you knew.

Aside from exposing the sham nature of organisation bodies, elsewhere in the show the claims of George McNaney were examined. McNaney calls himself ‘hypnotist to the stars’ in a blatant appeal to what’s often seen as authority these days – that of celebrity. On top of that, he also lists all of his certificates and accreditations on his website, including:

  • Association for Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy (APHP)
  • Hypnotherapy Society (HS)
  • General Hypnotherapy Standards Council (GHSC)
  • General Hypnotherapy Register (GHR Reg)
  • National Council of Psychotherapists (NCP)
  • Accredited by the National Regulatory Register for Hypnotherapy (NRH)
  • UK Confederation of Hypnotherapy Organisations (UKCHO)

All impressive-sounding, I’m sure you’ll agree. But must I remind you about the cat? Excellently, George McNaney lists his full name on his website, with all of his qualification-titles too, describing himself as:

George McNaney
Clinical Hypnotherapist – D.Hyp.LNCP.LAPHP.LHS.NRH.GHR.GQHP.UKCHO

How about that for an appeal to authority. By the way, that’s the Sunderland-dwelling human, not the cat, despite them both being called George, which I’ll admit is a bit confusing, but try and keep up. Maybe ‘George’ is quite a hypnotherapisty name? Who knows.

Anyway, man-George claims to be able to help people stop smoking. Cat-George makes no such claims, I hasten to add. Hypnotherapy has been show to be roughly helpful in around 20-35 percent of smokers – which seems to me to be closer to the normal figures for stopping smoking anyway, so how it can be shown to be exclusively the hypnotherapy that’s helping I’m not sure. Still, that’s an academic point, because Man-George claims a success rate of “up to 90 per cent” using hypnotherapy techniques for a one-off payment of £129. Which is high when it comes to in both numbers.

When asked about his success-rate and the vast gulf between what he claims and what can be shown to be true using actual science and evidence, Man-George responded by saying that he’s less interested in clinical tests than what works for his clients. Where have we heard that before? Oh yeah – with every bullshit-peddler going.

After a bit more digging, the Inside Out team discovered that although Mr McNaney has a website offering hypnotherapy services, he isn’t the director of any registered hypnotherapy company. He is, however, the director of an outfit that predicts who’s going to win at the horse racing, for the small fee of over £5000. Apparently, this scam (sorry, scheme!) is no longer in operation and was stopped before he became a hypnotherapist. This makes sense – why make money scamming people when you can make money scamming people in ways they’re less likely to complain about.

At this point, it’s worth noting that despite the existence of several hypnotherapy organisations around the country, the practice is not regulated by law and there are no standard qualifications. Which is good news for Cat-George, and even better news for Man-George. With this in mind, I’ve decided to become a hypnotherapist myself. Cat-George is gonna show miaow.

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  1. #1 by Marc on October 19, 2009 - 11:30

    “Cat-George is gonna show miaow.” – All I can say to that is Dear Flying Spaghetti Monster that was terrible

  2. #2 by Andy on October 19, 2009 - 23:33

    Genius last sentence. Punlific.

  3. #3 by Holly Martin on April 28, 2010 - 06:37

    It is hard to Stop Smoking at all but i tried so hard to quit smoking because of the fear of lung cancer |

  4. #4 by Richard Anson on August 4, 2010 - 18:43

    I see “George Jackson, CAT” is still listed, as of August 2010, as a hypnotherapist on http://www.hypnotherapistregister.com

  5. #5 by hokes on May 5, 2014 - 11:26

    People who have never been hypnotised before sometimes ponder what hypnosis feels like to experience. Here is a short video by Mark Bowden that explains this.

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