Florida High school principal George Kenney is under fire for using hypnosis on students — two of which later committed suicide. Kenney had been told by school officials not to use hypnosis on students, but parents have rallied to his side in the controversy.
Kenney is known as a principal who was willing to use his training in hypnosis to help students focus or, in one case, help a basketball player with his free throws. Supporters are saying that the suicides were simple tragic coincidences.
In one case in April, Kenney hypnotized a 16-year-old student Wesley McKinley to help him better focus on a test. The next day, the boy committed suicide. The parents, however, had given their permission for the hypnosis. He was, however, accused of initially lying about the use of hypnosis on another student who later committed suicide. Yet, in that earlier case, the mother of student Brittany Palumbo was present for the session.
There has been an outpouring of support for Kenney by the students and parents alike.
Kenney is the author of four books about using hypnosis in defeating test anxiety and mastering baseball and basketball skills.
The case could present interesting factual and legal causation problems if it results in civil litigation. The suggestion that hypnosis triggers suicide is likely to be opposed by many hypnotists and their organizations. Then there is the consent of the parents to these sessions.
Kenney, however, could be in more difficult problems with the school system which reportedly told him not to do such sessions with students.