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Observations placeholder

Dr Stephen Black - Hypnotherapy, hysterical blindness and Herpes



Type of Spiritual Experience


The morality of the experiments undertaken on this poor women is extremely questionable and as we can see were not undertaken by Dr Black, who expressed his view that they were ‘ethically questionable’.  Nevertheless they do show that one can both heal and make a patient ill using hypnosis.  The person was cured of ‘hysterical blindness’ by hypnotherapy, but the suggestion that her immune system wasn’t working resulted in it not working and herpes resulted.  If we put a more positive slant on this, we might surmise that if a person has herpes, then a suggestion that their immune system is working like a dream, might make it do so and help to squash the virus.

Dr Black was a doctor and a trained psychologist practising at the Westminster Hospital and West London Hospital

A description of the experience

Dr Stephen Black – Mind and Body

…an hysterical patient previously cured of blindness by DSUH [Direct Suggestion under Hypnosis], produced multiple herpetic blisters 25 hours after ISUH [Indirect Suggestion under Hypnosis] of being "run down and debilitated" (Ullman, 1947).

Since moreover herpes of all kinds is essentially a virus infection of the peripheral nerves, Heilig and Hoff (1928) determined the 'opsonic index' in such subjects. By this means they found that "physiological resistance was reduced" after the experiment. This was indicated by measurement of the 'opsonins' in the serum, which are specific immune bodies making micro-organisms more susceptible to the action of phagocytic white cells.

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Immune system

Activities and commonsteps