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I've written a novella entitled 'Regression Therapy' which I intend to self-publish. It's a black-comedy about a man who undergoes past life regression therapy and, well, it has negative consequences.

From Wikipedia

"Past life regression is a technique that uses hypnosis to recover what practitioners believe are memories of past lives or incarnations, though others regard them as fantasies or delusions or a type of confabulation."

The story is completely fictional and the events are, in my opinion, so absurd that I can't imagine anybody taking it seriously. However, I worry that advocates of past life regression would argue that the story damages/tarnishes the reputation of the 'treatment' and therefore leaves me open to being sued.

My questions are:

  1. Are my concerns warranted?

  2. If so, is there anything I could do to mitigate any legal repercussions? Such as including a disclaimer saying "The following story is completely fictional…" (or words to that effect).

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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The only legal concern here would be over defamation. One concern would be whether you identify a specific individual and accuse them of doing wrong, in which case said Ludwig McTavish might have a case against you for defamation. You cannot defame a belief or practice, you can only defame a person. A second concern would be over making false claims, that is, do you falsely accuse Mr. McTavish of fraud, or do you truthfully reveal that he has a belief which you argue is deluded. Patently absurd statements also do not constitute defamation.

  • The unfair competition provisions of the Lanham Act related to false advertising (Section 43(a)) do authorize lawsuits for false statements about a product in some circumstances but a suit on that basis wouldn't prevail on these facts. – ohwilleke Jun 8 '17 at 22:03
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Under U.S. law you would have no meaningful risk of legal liability in any fashion. This is squarely protected by freedom of speech and is not within any exception to that protection that is recognizes in U.S. law.

Various other countries take a variety of stands on legal liability for publications so it is hard to know if someone, somewhere in the world might have a legal cause of action, but U.S. courts are forbidden from enforcing foreign court judgments on claims that would be protected as free speech in the U.S.

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