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ProfessionaProfessionall PsychologyPsychology:: ResearcResearclh and Practici 1989, Vol. 20, No. 5,122-328

Copyright 1989 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.


Memory and Hypnosis: Implications for the Use of Forensic Hypnosis

Anthony J. Pinizzotto Georgetown University

I review arguments regarding hypnosis in forensic investigations, offer procedures of a nonhypnotic nature to enhance memory recall, and suggest guidelines for hypnosis in criminal cases. The effects of hypnosis on memory, as well as the concomitant dangers regarding those effects, are discussed.

A typical summer day quickly turned into a nightmare for 26 children and their bus driver. In July 1976, children and driver were abducted by several masked men. At gunpoint, all 27 were forced into vans, which were then buried beneath the ground of a rock quarry. The bus driver and 2 of the older boys were able to dig themselves to the surface and escape. This case, referred to as the Chowchilla kidnapping case, is one of many cases that drew national attention to the use of hypnosis in criminal investigations. Because the bus driver had seen two of the van license plate numbers and tried to memorize them, he was considered an appropriate subject for hypnotic recall. In the hypnotic session, the driver was able to recall enough numbers of the license plates to speed the apprehension of three men. Those three individuals were tried and convicted of the charge of kidnapping and were given life sentences (Kro- ger & Douce, 1979). The literature is replete with equally fasci- nating recountings of major crimes solved by hypnosis (Arons, 1977; Reiser, 1980). Hypnosis has been applied in many different clinical settings.

Psychologists, dentists, social workers, psychiatrists, gynecolo- gists, and surgeons have applied hypnosis in their respective

practices (see Cheek & LeCron,

examples of applied hypnosis in these and other areas). Within recent years, the forensic use of hypnosis has been increasing at an exponential rate. Major law enforcement organizations have availed themselves of the use of hypnosis to assist in solving crimes. This has been done on federal, state, and local levels. Among the more widely known departments and offices using hypnosis are the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Ault, 1979, 1980), the Los Angeles Police Department (Reiser, 1976), and the New York City Police Department ("The trial of hypnosis," 1981). Clifford and Bull (1978) also reported that the law en- forcement agents in Israel make extensive use of hypnosis.

1968, and Kroger, 1977, for

ANTHONY i. PINIZZOTTO received his PhD from Georgetown Univer- sity and is currently on faculty at Georgetown University in the Depart- ment of Psychology. In addition to his university teaching, he is a consul- tant in forensic psychology. His current research includes criminal per- sonality profiling, hypnosis in criminal investigations, and cult-related criminal behavior. THE AUTHOR EXPRESSES HISGRATITUDE to Darlenc Howard, George- town University, for her comments in the preparation of this article. CORRESPONDENCE CONCERNING THIS ARTICLE should be addressed to Anthony J. Pinizzotto, Department of Psychology, Georgetown Univer- sity, Washington, D.C . 20057.


From these numerous accounts, as well as from my applied forensic cases, the use of forensic hypnosis in criminal cases appears to be more than justifiable. In many cases (Barnacle, 1975;Misseck, 1978;Reiser, 1974) it was through hypnosis that the investigators allegedly were given major leads and informa- tion in order to close cases. At first glance, this is most impres- sive and would lead many to draw the conclusion that hypnosis can enable one to "replay" memory experiences and hence solve crimes. Yet a flag of caution must be raised at this point; there are several questions and assumptions that should be ad- dressed before such a conclusion is drawn. Among the questions are these: What is hypnosis? What "working model" of memory is assumed by the hypnotist? Is that working model an acceptable one, given the current state of cognitive research? Does hypnosis actually enhance recall— that is, is memory any more accurate with hypnosis than with- out it? Is the alleged enhancement of hypnotic memory in real- life, forensic situations greater or less than in laboratory settings? If hypnosis is to be used in forensic settings, what guidelines can be implemented to safeguard against its inappro- priate use?

Denning Hypnosis and Hypnotic Trance

Hypnosis is not easily defined. Extreme positions exist, as with all theoretical constructs. Some hold that hypnosis in- volves major neurological alterations, and so hypnosis can be denned in terms of concomitant and specific physical signs. It is argued that the trained hypnotist can determine levels of hyp- nosis on the basis of certain signs and thus that researchers will be able to discover the neurological changes that take place dur- ing hypnosis. Early proponents of this theory were Mesmer (1779/1948) and Charcot (1882); among the more recent theo- rists were Erickson (1939) and Spiegel (1972). Others (Couch &Fross, I976;Segall, 1975) define hypnosis by using psychody- namic explanations, suggesting that hypnosis is a function of the unconscious mind. Many other definitions of hypnosis are similar to those frequently given for psychotherapy: It is the in- teraction that happens when a trained hypnotist (therapist) per- forms what he or she defines as the process of hypnosis (therapy) on a client or patient (Orne. 1977). There are inadequacies in many of the attempted definitions of hypnosis. Explanations as to the way in which hypnosis works are equally varied. Sarbin and Coe (1972) spoke of hypnosis as in- volving "as if" behaviors; Shor (1970) suggested that there is a


loss of generalized reality orientation; Hilgard (1977) stated that there is a shift in multiple cognitive control systems. In many cases, hypnosis has been denned by fiat: It is based on the qualifications of the hypnotist and the "fact" that he or she hypnotizes a subject and then asserts that hypnosis has taken place (Orne, 1977). Because there is little way to quantify such a view of hypnosis for the purpose of validation and reliability testing, a different approach to its definition is necessary. In defining hypnosis, Spiegel and Spiegel (1978) stated that "this [hypnotic] experience is characterized by an ability to sus- tain in response to a signal a state of attentive, receptive, intense focal concentration with diminished peripheral awareness" (p. 22). They stressed that the hypnotized person remains awake and alert; he or she does not "fall asleep." It was within this context that Spiegel and Spiegel (1978) went on to explain the ability that one develops within the hypnotic "trance" to de- velop concentrated attention:

The crux of the trance state is the dialectic between focal and pe- ripheral awareness. Any intensification of focal attention necessi- tates the elimination of distracting or irrelevant stimuli. Likewise, a position of diffuse and scanning awareness requires a relinquish- ing of focal attentiveness. In fact, the one type of awareness implies the existence of the other. We not only pay attention to our given task, we also ward off distractions, (p. 22)

In the end, Spiegel and Spiegel (1978, p. 23; see also Spiegel & Spiegel, 1987) likened the experience of hypnosis to that of be- ing absorbed in an interesting novel, in which one's attention is focused in a very concentrated way. At the end of the novel, the reader needs a moment to reorient himself or herself to the surroundings. In attempting to define hypnosis, one must be able to specify objective measures. Many authors (Arons, 1961; Cooke & Van Vogt, 1956; Teitelbaum, 1965; Weitzenhoffer, 1957) have sug- gested a variety of means by which levels of hypnosis are tested. Yet, at best, these tests are merely descriptive of some behaviors that typically take place during the time that the experimenter defines as "hypnotically induced." There may well be a correla- tion between certain states of relaxation and concomitant phys- iological responses. However, to speak of those relative behav- iors as defining some internal processes seems to be unwar- ranted. An apparent problem with so many approaches is that no systematic study can be made of them. This is why Spiegel and Spiegel (1978) suggested that "by using a standardized in- duction procedure, which involves systematic questioning re- garding physiological, behavioral, and phenomenological re- sponses, the variable influence of different operators on the trance performance is minimized and the trance capacity of a subject can be systematically documented" (p. 28). The prob- lem of defining just exactly what hypnosis is remains. However, standardizing the process of induction and operationalizing the behavioral, physiological, and phenomenological responses brings one closer to an experimentally controlled understanding of some of the elements of hypnosis. Once the induction process has been invoked, is there assur- ance that the individual is actually hypnotized? There are groups that seriously question the claims of the very existence of the hypnotic state, as well as groups that seem to include any experience as evidence of a heightened hypnotic state. Perhaps the most balanced view concerning the test of hypnosis was ex-



pressed by the American Medical Association (AMA), Council on Scientific Affairs (1985): After the hypnotic induction, "it

can be recognized by administering a series of different test sug- gestions of varying degrees of known difficulty, typically involv- ing alterations of perception, motor control, or memory. The

degree to which these suggestions are

as real and involuntary indicates the extent to which hypnosis has taken place" (p. 1919). (A more detailed explanation of test- ing measures can be found in Spiegel & Spiegel's 1978 book.)

In all forensic cases, it is important that the investigator corrob- orate all material elicited from the subject. Not only are individ- uals capable of simulating or faking hypnosis, but also those in "deep hypnosis" are capable of intentional false statements (AMA, Council on Scientific Affairs, 1985). Cautious consider- ation of retrieved forensic information is the rule, not the ex- ception. The accuracy of much information received from a hypnotic

to verify objectively, as is evident in the

Chowchilla case. In this particular case, it is true that the recall

of the license plate numbers facilitated the closing of the case. However, there are many reported cases of the use of hypnosis in which the license plate numbers retrieved were not at all re- lated to the actual plate revealed later. The problem of verification of data is more obvious in the use of hypnosis for age regression, which was explained by Spie- gel and Spiegel (1978, p. 32). They stated that some people who are highly hypnotizable are able to achieve a form of age regres- sion wherein they relive periods of their lives as if they were actually in those periods. When these individuals are tested, they respond with a vocabulary appropriate to their trance- state age. When quizzed about current events, they are igno- rant. Spiegel and Spiegel went on to show how some individuals become nonverbal when regressed to ages of 6 or 7 months. One of the problems with age regression is that of confabulation, the tendency on the part of the hypnotized person to fill in memory gaps with suggested or fantasized material. The hypnotized per- son is then unable to differentiate confabulation from the truth. It all becomes part of the individual's "memory." Indeed, the confidence that individuals have in their own recollection of de- tails within hypnosis is greater than it is outside the hypnotic situation, even when these recollections are false (Dywan, 1983; Sheehan & Tilden, 1983; Timm, 1981). Though some (Reiser, 1974, 1980; Schafer & Rubio, 1978) tend to understate the serious problem of confabulation, several notable and recent examples reaffirm the need to be cautious. In one case, an individual under hypnosis gave a description to a police artist of a man whom he saw commit a murder. Upon further questioning, it was shown that the person giving the hyp- notic testimony could not possibly have seen the act take place. The witness to the alleged crime was approximately 250 feet (76.2 m) away from the action, and he viewed the activity in a condition of semidarkness. According to the testimony of an ophthalmologist, identification beyond 30 feet (9.1 m) under those conditions would have been impossible. The witness, however, strongly believed that he saw the crime and had a clear view of the perpetrator (People v. Kempinski, 1980). A second case involved a woman who accused a man of stab- bing her with a knife several times in the vagina. This informa- tion came about during a hypnotic session but was proved in-

session remains difficult

followed and experienced



correct by medical examination, which revealed only one vagi- nal lesion and no damage to the labia or perineum (State v. Mack, 1980). There are recorded court cases (for example, State v. Stolp, 1982) in which previously unknown information was retrieved

through hypnosis and, it is asserted, proved so accurate as to effect the capture of an offender. However, "the vast majority of

. reports [of memory enhancement in hypnosis] are anec-

dotal, and most fail to provide independent corroboration of the memories recovered in hypnosis or to establish that hypno- sis was responsible for any effects observed" (AMA, Council on Scientific Affairs, 1985, p. 1920). More controlled, empirical studies are needed to determine whether what is recalled in hyp- nosis is more verifiable data or more confabulated data. At present, definitive statements regarding these data would be precipitous.

Models of Memory and Problems of Confabulation

The working model of memory that one adopts determines how one views confabulation and its effect on memory. It is nec- essary, then, to view certain models of memory and how they deal with the issue of confabulation. Some views of hypnosis assume working models of memory wherein memory is a kind of tape recorder. This particular model of memory is especially dangerous in forensic hypnosis. This theory suggests that all stimuli are received and recorded in the mind as originally perceived. The rationale for using hyp- nosis, then, is to engage the memory tape recorder and have the individual "replay" the experience. Penfield (1975) has been attributed with developing such a static notion of memory. This view apparently has been adopted by others (Reiser, 1980, for example) whose implicit theory of memory suggests that what was experienced in the past has been stored in the mind like a tape recorder. The purpose for using hypnosis rests on the assumption that the mind will be able to rewind, play forward, and produce a copy of the original experience. This static view of memory is held by some despite the large body of research suggesting that other important factors affect the construction of memory data. As only one example, re- search has shown that cognitive strategies and mental imagery are important factors in human memory (Carroll & Maxwell, 1979; Richardson, 1980). This "video-recording" type of memory not only lacks sub- stantial experimental data to support its claim but also creates the possibility of developing an approach to forensic hypnosis that leads both the hypnotist and the client into the realm of magical thinking. As Perry and Laurence (1982) stated in their criticism of an approach to hypnosis that uses a static concept of memory, "By a series of metaphors from televised sports, the victim is encouraged to zoom-in, freeze-frame, and re-experi- ence in slow motion the events of a crime" (p. 445). The empha- sis here is on the re-experiencing of the crime, as if to infer that one can replay the exact experience as originally perceived. The problem with such a concept of memory and perception as mere machines that copy environmental stimuli is that they simply do not function that way. Buckhout (1974) stated that "perception and memory are decision-making processes

affected by the totality of a person's abilities, background, atti- tudes, motives and beliefs, by the environment and by the way his recollection is eventually tested" (p. 25). He went on to show how the observer is an active perceiver of external stimuli, not a passive recorder. The conclusions that the active perceiver reaches are the result of evaluation and reconstruction. The ac- tive observer imposes meaning on the information that im- pinges on his or her senses (Neisser, 1967). Buckhout concluded by stating that the sense organs of seeing, hearing, tasting, smell- ing, and touching are social organs, as well as physical ones. In strong contrast to this static view of memory is one that suggests that memory, even in the unhypnotized state, is con- structive (see Alba & Hasher, 1983, for a review); that is, among other things, memory is characterized by distortion and inaccu- racy. As such, the constructive nature of memory may influence individuals to complete or fill in gaps of their accountswith data not directly perceived at the tim e of the incident that they are recalling (Sheehan & Tilden, 1983). There is a growing body of literature (Brigham, Maass, Sny- der, & Spaulding, 1982; Loftus & Burns, 1982; Loftus, Miller, &Burns, 1978; Powers, Andriks,& Loftus, 1979)about experi- ments with unhypnotized subjects that have shown that mem- ory is affected by information received after a particular occur- rence. These experimenters follow the same basic pattern in testing this theory. The subjects are shown a series of slides, or view a movie, or listen to an account of some incident (e.g., a staged robbery or a traffic accident). After seeing the incident, one group of subjects would be given subtle cues that suggest events that did, in fact, not occur or that contradicted the facts of the original occurrence. When later asked to relate to the experimenters what had taken place in the created crime or in- cident, the experimental group that had been given erroneous suggestions reported the material suggested to them rather than what they had perceived. The amount of erroneous and contra- dictory information given by the experimental groups was al- ways significantly greater than that given by the control groups that were not given any additional information. In related research (O'Connell, Shor, & Orne, 1970) with hypnotized individuals, the confabulation took the form of combining the facts of a recalled event with fantasies of the indi- vidual recalling the particular event. In these particular hyp- notic sessions of age regression, the subjects tended to produce more details than they did in the nonhypnotic state, but they also tended to confabulate more. When checking the validity of the data received from these age-regressed subjects, the experi- menters found that certain individuals, vividly recalled from the past, never existed. In therapeutic settings, this material can be dealt with through appropriate psychological interventions. However, for forensic purposes, it is the accuracy of the material that is important and necessary, not whether someone is work- ing through a fantasy wish. A further finding in O'Connell et al.'s (1970) study was that the actual amount of factual data received (and of significance to the law) was not greater than the amount received without hypnosis. Witnesses of crimes depend on their memory to aid them. Often, they believe that what they recall is, in fact, accurate. However, as Loftus (1979) pointed out, there are several mis- conceptions about eyewitness testimony:



Witnesses remember the details of a violent crime better than those of a nonviolent one. Research shows just the opposite: the added stress that violence creates clouds our perceptions. Witnesses are as likely to underestimate the duration of a crime as to overestimate it. In fact, witnesses almost invariably think a crime took longer than it did. The more violent and stressful the crime, the more witnesses overestimate its duration. The more confident a witness seems, the more accurate the testi- mony is likely to be. Research suggests that there may be little or no relationship between confidence and accuracy, especially when viewing conditions are poor. (p. 24)

Buckhout (1974) concurred with Loftus: "Both sides, and usu- ally the witness too, succumb to the fallacy that everything was recorded and can be played back later through questioning"

(P. 23).

That is not how memory works. To believe that memory works like a mechanical device is to accept a "nineteenth-cen- tury view of man as perceiver, which asserted a parallel between the mechanisms of the physical world and those of the brain. Human perception is a more complex information-processing mechanism. So is memory" (Buckhout, 1974, p. 24). Memory is constructive and integrative.

Hypnosis and Memory Enhancement

A highly related area of current investigation within the field of hypnosis is that of its memory-enhancement function. Some researchers (Buckhout, 1974; Putnam, 1979) question the memory-enhancement capability of hypnosis altogether; others have shown that difficulties have arisen in laboratory studies in which researchers attempted to demonstrate clear, significant, and controlled examples of hypnotic hypermnesia (Barber & Calverly, 1966; DePiano & Salzberg, 1981; Dhanens & Lundy, 1975). An even greater amount of experimental literature (Buckhout, Eugenic, Licitra, Oliver, & Kramer, 1981; Dia- mond, 1980; M. C. Smith, 1983) suggests that in laboratory settings, recall aided by hypnosis is no better than recall without hypnosis. These studies in experimental psychology are contrasted with the reports of forensic investigators/hypnotists who have un- covered information not available before the hypnosis (Arons, 1977;Reiser, 1976;Teitelbaum, 1965), as well as with some lim- ited empirical studies that suggest that forensic hypnosis does enhance eyewitness memory retrieval (Geiselman, Fisher, MacKinnon, & Holland, 1985). The question remains, then:

Why have the experimentalists not been able to replicate what appears to be occurring in the real-life forensic situations? Crime scenes differ in considerable ways from laboratory set- tings (DePiano & Salzberg, 1981). Because of these differences, perhaps the factors of the crime scene aid the hypnotic effects (M. C. Smith, 1983). These same factors are not available or replicable in laboratory settings (for practical as well as ethical reasons) and could be part of the explanation as to the differ- ences in effect of hypnotic recall. M. C. Smith (1983) outlined several differences between the crime scene and laboratory en- vironments: type of material being recalled, level of arousal, intentional versus incidental learning, and the consequences of recall. The material used in real-life situations, in contrast to the material used in typical laboratory experiments, is usually quite

different. In the real-life experience, the material is usually meaningful and dynamic, rich with both verbal and visual cues.

The material used in laboratory settings, however, is usually composed of lists of words, lists of nonsense syllables, or short prose passages. M. C. Smith's (1983) second factor is the level of arousal. Crime scenes, unlike the relatively sterile laboratory, are usually highly emotional. Perhaps hypnosis improves one's memory only when the learning takes place in an emotionally charged and traumatic set of circumstances, and so perhaps hypnosis is most effective in uncovering repressed or motivated forgotten memories. In the laboratory, most recall material is given in an inten- tional learning paradigm, unlike the street situation in which

specifically asked to pay

attention to or attempt to memorize any particular material. Perhaps hypnosis is most effective in recalling incidentally learned material. Last, there are far-reaching consequences concerning the in- formation gained in forensic settings. Lives are very greatly affected. The subjects in laboratory studies have no emotional investment in the process. There is an emotional difference be- tween describing the fact of a mugging or a rape and recalling a series of words or phrases. Experimenters (Brigham et al., 1982; DePiano & Salzberg, 1981;Putnam, 1979;Zelig&Beidleman, 1981) have attempted to incorporate as many real-life situations that are as emotional as possible into the laboratory settings. M. C. Smith (1983) summarized these findings from the various sources and what effects they have had. She stated that it is not merely the absence of "dynamic, meaningful stimuli to elicit arousal" (p. 398) while subjects watch these stimuli, nor does it appear to be the perception on the part of the viewer of the serious consequences of recall, that accounts for the lack of increased recall under hypnosis in laboratory settings. According to M. C. Smith, there is, however, some small degree of support to suggest that hypnosis does improve memory for incidentally learned mate- rial. M. C. Smith's (1983) final statement demands attention:

witnesses or victim s of crimes are not

"All in all, however, one is struck by the absence of any strong experimental support for the improvement of memory through hypnosis" (p. 398).

Applications to Forensic Hypnosis

There are blessings and curses in attempts to use hypnosis in forensic investigations. Given the real-life field data of applied hypnosis and, in addition, the experimental findings, what can be said about the use of hypnosis in forensic investigations? Whether hypnosis produces—in and of itself—the effects that field investigators claim remains a disputed issue. Though hypnosis sometimes appears to enable rather accurate revivifi- cation and recall of perceived situations, it can also elicit con- fabulations: false memories. These false memories are most dangerous because the persons experiencing them believe that those memories are accurate. Consequently, the courts have be- come most cautious with regard to testimony received from hypnosis sessions (State v. Hurct, 1981). One court (People v. Shirley, 1982) suggested returning to an earlier decision (Frye v. United Slates, 1923) that requires a "scientific procedure" to be



generally accepted as reliable within the scientific community before it is accepted by the courts. There is no real consensus within the scientific community concerning the nature, func- tion, and use of hypnosis.

Much of the controversial use of hypnosis began in 1968 with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals (Harding v. Stale, 1968). Using hypnosis for the purpose of refreshing one's mem- ory was seen at that time as being similar to referring to one's note cards. Though many courts followed this decision for years, a serious challenge to it came about in 1980, when one

admissibility of

testimony received from a hypnotized witness. After the deci- sion of many other jurisdictions (which include California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York), the Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed its 15-year-old Harding deci- sion in State v. Collins (1983). Currently, there are differences in various courts' opinions regarding the use of testimony resulting from the use of hypno- sis. Because many courts have rejected testimony received through hypnotic sessions, nonhypnotic memory-enhance- ment procedures are needed. What are some of these tech- niques for enhancing memory without the use of hypnosis? Two nonhypnotic methods have been shown with some reli- ability to produce greater and more accurate recall: "reinstate- ment of context" and "repeated testing sessions." In several studies (Godden & Baddeley, 1975; S. M. Smith, 1979), researchers have suggested that the context in which learning originally took place aids in the recall of the material. Even the physical conditions of the environment in which the learning occurred (e.g., odors, sounds, sights, and temperature) assist the individual's ability to remember the information learned. In Godden and Baddeley's (1975) experiment, for ex- ample, scuba divers were given lists of words to remember. One group was given the list to learn underwater; the other group learned on land. Each group was then tested for recall in either the same or the alternative environment. When the learning en- vironment was the same as the testing environment, recall was significantly greater. Watkins, Ho, and Tulving (1976) tested recall effaces. When the face was paired with the context within which it was learned, the experimenters found clear evidence of memory enhance- ment. Of greater interest for purposes of application of the rein- statement of context are Norman's (1976) findings, which sug- gest that the actual physical setting need not be present in order for memory enhancement to occur. In these findings, recall was accomplished by the use of imagination, visualizing a particular setting within a specific emotional context. Similar experimen- tal findings (Bower, 1981) suggest that the reinstatement of the original mood in which material is learned aids significantly in recalling that information later. These uses of contextual reinstatement appear to assist indi- viduals in recalling details from the past without the apparent risks of bias that hypnosis has. The second nonhypnotic aid in recalling previously learned material is that of repeated testing. When an individual who has attempted to remember an incident is later asked about that same incident, a greater amount of information is recalled the second time (Erdelyi & Kleinbard, 1978). This is referred to

court (State v. Mack, 1980) ruled against the


as "hypermnesia," the recollection of more information after repeated testing. Information retrieved in hypnosis may have

had nothing to do with the hypnosis per se, but rather it may be

a function of repeated questioning. However, caution must be

used here because of the possibility of confabulation by the per- son being questioned. This must be particularly safeguarded against in forensic settings because, as Clifford and Bull (1978) suggested, "under interrogative report he [the subject] will be asked questions to which he has no relevant memory, but be- cause he is being asked by an authority figure an answer is likely to be given; also, by the very fact of being asked a question the implication is that he ought to know the answer, and is consid-

ered capable of giving it" (p. 156). What complicates matters (Clifford & Bull, 1978; Timm, 1981) is that when the witness or subject responds, he or she now believes it to have occurred that way. Clifford and Bull (1978) stated the problem as such:

"The witness leaves all doubt behind and accepts his output as the outcome of genuine recall" (p. 156: see also Nogrady, Mc- Conkey, & Perry, 1985; Sheehan & Tilden, 1983, 1986). By re- sponding favorably with follow-up questions, the interrogator can suggest to the witness—unwittingly—that what the witness

is saying is, indeed, factual and valid.

In this regard, more research needs to be done on the ways in which questions are asked and the effects of such lines of questioning. Work that has been done in this area (Hilgard & Loftus, 1979) suggests that the greatest accuracy of information given is when the witness is simply asked to report what he or she can remember about the crime. This is referred to as free recall. There is, however, a trade-off here: Though accuracy is high, quantity of recall is low. There are criminal cases in which every investigative tool has been used and each nonhypnotic procedure has been applied, and yet no substantial leads have been formulated. For this situ- ation, the use of hypnosis is very cautiously recommended. However, even this use must be performed with certain and well-defined safeguards for both the client and the individual inducing hypnosis. Such measures have already been proposed (Orne, 1977; Orne, Soskis, Dinges, Orne, & Tonry, 1985). Judi- cial authorities themselves recognize both the potential benefits

and the potential dangers involved in the use of hypnosis, as well as its controversial nature within the fields of mental health and law: "The use of hypnosis in criminal investigations

is controversial, and the current medical and legal view of its

appropriate role is unsettled" (Rock v. Arkansas, 1987, p. 2707). On the basis of the present understanding of the nature of memory and the complexities surrounding the forensic and experimental findings of the use of hypnosis, I agree with these guidelines. The hypnotic session ought to be conducted by a psychiatrist or psychologist trained in hypnosis. This individual should receive a written document that states only the informa- tion about the case that he or she needs to know in order to conduct the hypnosis. This individual ought to be an indepen- dent professional, not connected to the agency requesting the services. Because nonverbal suggestions are possible, and inso- far as they can affect the testimony of the witness/victim, all contact between the hypnotist and subject should be recorded, preferably on videotape. Before the hypnotic session, a detailed account of the recol- lection of the victim/witness should be taken. This should be


done by the psychiatrist/psychologist because frequently an in-

dividual will remember something when speaking to a psychia-

trist/psychologist that he or she did not recall when questioned

by the law enforcement agent.

The psychiatrist/psychologist also should elicit a statement

from the witness/victim concerning his or her history with or

understanding of hypnosis. Perhaps a certain technique has

been found to be more or less effective than others for inducing

hypnosis. There may also

tions concerning hypnosis.

Because observers may inadvertently communicate approval

or disapproval of the responses of the witness/victim by their

gestures, sounds, or other nonverbal movements, in general only

the psychiatrist/psychologist should be in the room with the

witness/victim durin g the hypnosis. Others may view the ses-

sion from behin d a one-way mirro r or on a

There are no guarantees that when one follows these proce-

be reason to dispel som e misconcep-

video monitor.

dures, all inappropriate suggestions will be avoided. However,

it does allow tw o very importan t checkpoints. The first is that

the subject of the hypnotic session is optimally protected when

session is conducted by a trained medical or menta l health


practitioner. Though complications during hypnosis are rare,

the availability of such well-trained personnel is a safeguard

against their occurrence. A s Perry and Laurence (1982) stated,

complications are possible with any psychological procedure,

and hypnosis is no exception. Hence only the trained profes-

sional ought to use this procedure.

Second, it allow s for an adequate record of the entire session

to be maintained. If there are any questions concerning the pro-

cess, they could be answered by examinatio n of the actual hyp-

notic session.

With the knowledge of memory and hypnosis that is avail-

able, the cautious use of hypnosis may be of great importance

to the field of forensic investigation.


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Received February 16, 1989

Revision received May 6, 1989

Accepted May 9, 1989