In the late 50s and early 60s, a physical education professor at the University of Maryland by the name of Dr. Warren Johnson began research in a very unique and mysterious field of study: hypnosis. Dr. Johnson’s ultimate goal was to prove that hypnosis was capable of increasing the levels of muscular and physical performance of athletes.
At first, Johnson had many intrigued by his discussions of hypnosis, even university president Wilson Elkins, who was often kept up to date on Johnson’s findings. However, as criticism in the academic community grew concerning the use of hypnosis in scientific inquiry, President Elkins decided that he no longer wanted University of Maryland students involved in the experiments. At that point Johnson was hypnotizing students for his research on muscular performance as well as students who reported having trouble concentrating on their work.
Ultimately in 1961, Johnson wrote a report titled “Hypnosis and Muscular Performance”. In the report, he stated that based on his in-depth research, there was insufficient evidence to support the idea that hypnosis was useful in heightening athletic or muscular performance.
A section of Warren Johnson’s report “Hypnosis and and Muscular Performance” can be viewed here: Dr. Warren Johnson’s report on hypnosis
Before coming to the University of Maryland, Johnson taught in both Denver and Boston, as well as a number of institutions in the South and Southwest. Dr. Johnson was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Physical Education, an honor that only few nationwide receive. In 1978, he was selected as one of five recipients of the University of Maryland “Distinguished Scholar-Teacher” award. In addition, Johnson was the founder and director of the Health and Developmental Clinic on the College Park campus that looked to aid thousands of local children with physical and mental handicaps. Unfortunately, Johnson fell ill to a very painful and mysterious skin disease called scleroderma that debilitated him and eventually ended his life in 1982. Johnson is remembered and commended for his contributions in the fields of health, sports education, and human sexuality.