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On Monday 3rd of October, 1977, at 6:15pm, a meeting was held at the Royal Society of Medicine to discuss the arrangements for the formation of a new section—The Section of Medical and Dental Hypnosis. This name was changed many years later to the Section of Hypnosis and Psychosomatic Medicine. At this first meeting, the following were present: Dr Thomson, Dr Graham Bennette, Mrs Coley, Dr David Waxman, Dr Lucy Hanson, Dr Basil Morcas, Mr Bernard Oliver and Mrs Mary Samuels. At the meeting, they discussed how to let members of BSMDH know about the new section and to ask them to become Fellows of the RSM. They also pointed out that it was important to let already existing Fellows know that they could become Founder Fellows of the section. In addition, they compiled a list of members who would become members of council.

On Thursday 22nd of June, 1978, the Inaugural Meeting of the Section took place. The acting President of the Royal Society of Medicine, Sir Gordon Wolstenholme, and David Waxman, President of the Section, welcomed Fellows, members and guests to the meeting. At the time Dr G.P. Maher-Loughnan was the President Elect; there were two Vice-Presidents, John Elliott and Bernard Oliver; a Library Representative, David Pedersen; an Editorial Representative, Dennis Zimmerman; and two Honorary Secretaries, R.B. Smith and Pauline Nicolaou. A vote was taken on a show of hands, and those nominated were elected unanimously. The acting President welcomed Professor Linford Rees, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, to the meeting. He then called on Dr David Waxman to give the Presidential address entitled ‘Wounds give no pain’. There were 164 Founder Fellows of the Section. These included a range of eminent physicians, dentists and other health professionals. Amongst them were: Dr G.J. Ambrose, Dr M.A. Basker, Dr G.A. Burnett, Mr E.M. Fenton, Dr D.K. Fisher, Dr A.E.R. Gibbs, Mr G.S. Graham, Dr T. Kraft, Dr S. Lazarus, Dr G. Maher-Loughnan, Dr A.E.T. Mathieson, Dr P.G. Mellett, Dr B.A. Morcas, Mr B.A. Oliver, Professor I. Oswald, Dr D.L. Pedersen, Dr P. Sarin, Dr M.R Trimble, Dr D. Waxman and Dr D. Zimmerman.

Since then, the Section has gone from strength to strength, welcoming speakers from all over the UK, from Europe, Asia, Canada and the United States of America. The purpose of the section is to promote the knowledge and understanding of hypnosis and psychosomatic medicine from clinical practice and from the laboratory setting. The Section encourages debate from health professionals including doctors, nurses, dentists, chartered psychologists and other health professionals who have a legitimate reason for using hypnosis in their work.

All the section’s meetings, lectures and events—including public outreach sessions—are open to the public. However, there are the occasional workshops which are only open to health professionals. To become a member of the section, please phone the Royal Society of Medicine and ask for the Membership Department; alternatively, you can e-mail the section’s co-ordinator at hypnosis@rsm.ac.uk. It must be pointed out, however, that there is a strict eligibility criterion to become a full member of the Section. The Section of Hypnosis and Psychosomatic Medicine welcomes, as full members, doctors, nurses, chartered psychologists, dentists and other health professionals in clinical practice. Psychotherapists and counsellors may also be eligible on a case-by-case basis. Normally, this means that you will have a first degree or a postgraduate degree in a relevant discipline—for example, medicine, dentistry, nursing or fields related to psychology. It is also important that you are registered with the appropriate professional body.

The Section of Hypnosis and Psychosomatic Medicine is a constituent society of the European Society of Hypnosis (ESH). The ethical guidelines of the Section are closely connected with the ethical guidelines of ESH; however, the section is not governed by the European Society and reserves the right to maintain or amend ethical and membership criteria as necessary.

There are usually between 12-15 members of council at any one time, although we are hoping to expand this. The council must have a President, a President Elect, an Immediate Past President, an Honorary Secretary, Editorial Rep., Honorary Treasurer and a Library Rep. However, this section also has a number of other representatives—namely, a British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis (BSCAH) Rep., a European Society of Hypnosis (ESH) Rep., a Membership Officer, and a British Society of Medical and Dental Hypnosis (BSMDH Scotland) Rep. Further, there must be a representative on the Academic Board and that is usually the President.

All the meetings of this Section carry CPD points. We run all-day conferences, half-day meetings and evening events: lecturers are well known in their field of expertise and their presentations are often of the highest standard. Generally, we run four meetings in an academic year. Anyone interested in attending meeting run by this section should check the diary on the RSM website. One can book online or by telephoning the Royal Society of Medicine.


By David Kraft PhD  


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