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7 Dev. Mental Health L. 1 (1987)

handle is hein.journals/dvmnhlt7 and id is 1 raw text is: A Publication of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry & Public Poiicy at the Uniwrsity of Virginia
Developments in
/Mental Health Law
Box 100, Blue Ridge Hospital, Charlottesville, VA 32901 (604) 924-5435  Vol. 7, Nos. 1-2 January-June 1987
An update on state regulation of hypnosis
by Anne Bromley


§18.2-315. Hypnotism and mesmer-
ism. - If any person shall hypno-
tize or mesmerize or attempt to
hypnotize or mesmerize any person,
he shall be guilty of a Class 3
misdemeanor. But this section shall
not apply to hypnotism or mesmer-
ism performed at the request of the
patient by a licensed physician,
licensed clinical psychologist, or
dentist, or at the request of a
licensed physician, in the practice
of his profession.

The hearing of the Council on
Health Regulatory Boards
Eighteen people, including Copeland,
spoke at the informational hearing on
hypnosis conducted by the Council.
Psychiatrists, physicians, clinical psy-
chologists, professional counselors, and
lay persons gave testimony. Surprisingly,
no law enforcement officials attending
the public meeting spoke to defend the
use of hypnotically enhanced testimony
in criminal cases, although two profes-

sional people who have hypnotized
witnesses for the law did testify. In
addressing the scientific history of
hypnosis and explaining how it works,
the majority of those testifying called
for regulation of the practice and
restriction of its use to those with
advanced training and degrees. They
described the medical uses and manage-
ment of hypnosis, the probabilities of a
variety of harmful side effects, and the
problems with hypnosis used for forensic
Continued on page 14

In 1980 this Virginia statute was
repealed because it excluded the use of
hypnosis as an investigative tool for law
enforcement officials. Although legisla-
tive attempts in 1982 and 1983 to
reinstate restrictions were unsuccessful,
reports of harm to the public recently
led to a study by the Council on Health
Regulatory Boards.
On May 4, 1987, the Council's Scope
and Standards of Practice Committee
held a public hearing on whether the
practice of hypnosis and hypnotherapy
should be regulated in the state of
Virginia. The study was requested by
Delegate Howard E. Copeland in Sep-
tember, 1986, out of a concern about
possible injuries caused by unqualified
people rendering services as hypnotists
or hypnotherapists. In the same month,
the Board of Psychology recommended
that the use of hypnosis be studied to
determine the degree and manner of
possible regulation. The Board of Medi-
cine concurred with this recommenda-

In the Virginia General Assembly - 1987

This year the General Assembly's
attention was captured by a perceived
crisis in medical malpractice liability
insurance. New laws aimed at reducing
the cost of that insurance for health care
providers, especially obstetricians, were
enacted which shortened the statute of
limitations on injuries to minors, put a
ceiling on the recovery of punitive
damages, extended Good Samaritan
immunity to emergency obstetrical care,
and created an exclusive no-fault system
of compensation for birth trauma claims.
In other action of importance to mental
health professionals the legislature made
minor clarifications to civil commitment
procedure and major changes to the
juvenile court procedures involving
children in need of services (CHINS).
These and other selected new state laws
are summarized below. The citations at
the conclusion of each summary indicate
the bill number,, the chapter number of

the 1987 Virginia Acts of Assembly, and
the section of the Virginia Code affected
by the new law.
Council on Coordinating
This newly established council will be
composed of twelve representatives from
state boards and councils, including the
Department of Mental Health, Mental
Retardation and Substance Abuse Ser-
vices, the Board of Health and the Board
of Education, and of five representatives
from the private sector. The Council
will be required to review a Comprehen-
sive Prevention Plan for alcohol and
drug abuse which will be prepared by
certain state agencies. The Plan will also
coordinate and integrate prevention
planning efforts of state agencies and
Continued on next page

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