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HYPNOSIS - INVESTIGATING THE SUBCONSCIOUS

NCJ Number
53288
Journal
Police Magazine Volume: 2 Issue: 1 Dated: (JANUARY 1979) Pages: 14-20
Author(s)
R WILSON
Date Published
1979
Length
7 pages
Annotation
HYPNOSIS AS A TOOL IN POLICE INVESTIGATIONS FOR EXPLORING THE SUBCONSCIOUS OF VICTIMS AND WITNESSES IS EXAMINED, AND ITS USE IN THE LOS ANGELES CALIF., POLICE DEPARTMENT IS EVALUATED.
Abstract
SINCE THE FORMAL BEGINNING OF LOS ANGELES' INVESTIGATIVE HYPNOSIS PROGRAM IN 1976, HYPNO-INVESTIGATORS HAVE BEEN CALLED UPON TO CONDUCT ABOUT 350 HYPNOSIS SESSIONS WITH VICTIMS AND WITNESSES. ONE SURVEY INDICATES THAT ABOUT 101 CASES INVOLVING THE USE OF HYPNOSIS WERE RESOLVED. OF THESE CASES, 78 PERCENT OF THE DETECTIVES SAID THAT HYPNOSIS PROVIDED NEW INFORMATION AND SOME STATED THAT THEIR CASES COULD HAVE NOT BEEN SOLVED WITHOUT HYPNOSIS. HYPNO-INVESTIGATORS RECEIVE ABOUT THREE REQUESTS PER WEEK TO TRY HYPNOSIS. SUBJECTS ARE SCREENED TO ELIMINATE POSSIBLE SUSPECTS OR PEOPLE WITH SIGNS OF EMOTIONAL INSTABILITY. HYPNO-INVESTIGATORS USUALLY VISIT SUBJECTS AT HOME, ACCOMPANIED BY A POLICE ARTIST AND OCCASIONALLY BY DETECTIVES. PROGRESSIVE RELAXATION IS THE PROCESS EMPLOYED TO PLACE SUBJECTS UNDER HYPNOSIS; THE STATE OF HYPNOSIS IS NOT A TRANCE BUT RATHER A CONDITION OF DEEP RELAXATION AND HEIGHTENED AWARENESS. TO ENHANCE RECALL, A METHOD KNOWN AS THE T.V. (TELEVISION) TECHNIQUE IS UTILIZED. SUBJECTS ARE TOLD TO IMAGINE THEY ARE LOOKING AT A TELEVISION DOCUMENTARY ABOUT CRIME. THEY CAN STOP THE PICTURE AT ANY TIME, PLAY IT BACK, OR FOCUS ON DETAILS. THE KEY TO THE SUCCESS OF THE HYPNOSIS PROGRAM IS THAT VICTIMS OR WITNESSES ARE REMOVED FROM EMOTIONAL ASPECTS OF CRIME AND CAN COMMUNICATE MORE PRECISELY. NO CASE OF HYPNOSIS HAS RESULTED IN LONG-TERM DAMAGE TO SUBJECTS, ACCORDING TO THE PROGRAM DIRECTOR. CRITICS OF HYPNOSIS SAY THE TECHNIQUE VIOLATES THE PRIVACY AND THREATENS THE MENTAL HEALTH OF SUBJECTS WHEN NOT CONDUCTED BY IMPARTIAL FULLY-TRAINED PHYSICIANS OR PSYCHOLOGISTS. OTHERS STATE THAT EVIDENCE OBTAINED UNDER HYPNOSIS IS UNRELIABLE AND SHOULD NOT BE USED IN COURT. THE SOCIETY FOR CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL HYPNOSIS, INCLUDING ABOUT 850 PHYSICIANS, PSYCHOLOGISTS, AND DENTISTS WHO USE HYPNOSIS IN THEIR WORK, HAS PASSED A RESOLUTION STRONGLY OPPOSING THE USE OF HYPNOSIS BY POLICE OFFICERS. THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL AREA WITH REGARD TO POLICE HYPNOSIS IS THE ISSUE OF SUGGESTION, WITH THE IMPLICATION THAT POLICE INVESTIGATORS MIGHT MISUSE THE HYPNOTIC STATE TO LEAD A SUBJECT INTO A FALSE STATEMENT. LEGAL DEBATE FOCUSES ON THE ISSUE OF SUGGESTION AND ON THE PROPER CONDUCT OF HYPNOSIS, WITH TAPE RECORDINGS PROVIDED TO THE DEFENSE. COURTS HAVE ADMITTED TESTIMONY WHEN RECORDINGS SHOW NO OBVIOUS LEADING OF SUBJECTS UNDER HYPNOSIS. MIRANDA-TYPE WARNINGS MUST BE GIVEN TO POTENTIAL HYPNOSIS SUBJECTS; PERSONS ARE FREE TO REFUSE HYPNOSIS AND SESSIONS MUST BE RECORDED. NO EVIDENCE IN VIOLATION OF ANY OF THE WARNINGS IS ADMISSIBLE IN COURT. THE SOCIETY FOR INVESTIGATIVE AND FORESENIC HYPNOSIS, WITH ABOUT 200 MEMBERS NATIONWIDE, SETS STANDARDS FOR POLICE HYPNOTISTS. (DEP)