FESH – the Federation of Ethical Stage Hypnotists – is the established governing body of stage hypnosis in the UK and has been for over thirty years.
It has been working hard to dispel myths and rumours about stage hypnosis, and now it’s the only such body to be recognised by Equity, the actors’ union. Indeed, Equity always makes sure that there is a senior FESH member on its stage hypnosis committee.
A Little History
In the late 1970s a group of thirteen stage hypnotists was becoming increasingly concerned about bad feeling being generated towards hypnosis in general and stage hypnosis in particular.
Some of this came from exaggerated stories in the press, hyped to create a sensationalist good story and sell more newspapers.
Other criticism came from people seeking remedies in the courts for pretend illness or accidents supposedly originating from participation in stage hypnosis – or even from being in the audience at a stage hypnosis show!
Yet more criticism came from the British Society of Medical and Dental Hypnosis, the govening body of medical hypnotists many of whom felt that hypnosis had no place on the stage, and that audiences are disinclined to view it as a serious medical tool when they have seen it used for comedy. They ignored the fact that hypnosis has been used as entertainment for over 200 years, and research shows that audiences are actually more inclined to take it seriously after seeing a stage show.
To combat these misconceptions, FESH was formed. A group of prominent stage hypnotists, in consultation with the British Society of Medical and Dental Hypnosis and the Home Office, agreed a Code of Conduct for stage hypnotists. This Code was later used by the Home Office as a basis for their Model Conditions for Stage Hypnotism Performances, circulated to all Local Councils, and forms the basis of the FESH Code of Conduct in force today. It’s still a requirement that FESH members abide by the Code, and you can read it here.
There is so much misinformation, misunderstanding, and prejudice surrounding stage hypnosis that it is important for the public to have a source of reliable information about every aspect of stage hypnosis.
If there’s anything you need to know about stage hypnosis, whether it’s to do with safety, proper practice, professional standards, or the law and licensing, just contact the Administrator here, and he’ll be happy to help.
Before joining, prospective members are carefully vetted by senior members of FESH. Their shows are reviewed and checked, they are interviewed by two members of the FESH Council to ensure, among other things, that they understand the paramount importance of the safety of the volunteers. References are taken from venues where they have played to ensure the act is not only safe, but is suitably entertaining and appropriate for the venue.
In the (almost unheard of) case where there is a complaint against a FESH member, the FESH Council will investigate, and take appropriate action.
Represents stage hypnotists
Various august bodies, from time to time, have needed an authoritative voice to explain the intricacies of stage hypnosis, and the prevailing standards of ethics among professionals. When they do, FESH is there to help. The Home Office, Equity, and even the High Court have all called upon FESH members to supply expertise in a formal context.
FESH is often called in to help with licensing issues, too. Many Councils don’t understand the law regarding licensing; FESH is always on hand to explain, and to negotiate on its members’ behalf.
It’s a membership requirement that FESH members keep themselves apprised of the importance of public liability insurance. When insurance companies have been reluctant to offer insurance (usually through a misunderstanding of what stage hypnosis is) then FESH has been on hand to negotiate and explain.
FESH is always working hard to obtain the best insurance deals for its members, too. Many insurance companies are prepared to offer a better deal to FESH members, because they are aware of the high ethical standards members maintain.
In any profession there is always the possibility of a dispute between members. As the governing body of stage hypnosis in the UK, FESH provides an arbitration service, should this be necessary.