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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76416 Find in a Library
Title: Use of Hypnosis To 'Freshen' the Memory of Witnesses or Victims
Journal: Trial  Volume:17  Issue:4  Dated:(April 1981)  Pages:56-59,63
Author(s): E E Levitt
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 5
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Circumstances in which investigative hypnosis is used by law enforcement officers with victims and witnesses are described, and conditions under which the technique should take place are specified in this article.
Abstract: In the past 3 years there has been a dramatic increase in the use of hypnosis in the legal process, primarily by law enforcement officers with witnesses, potential witnesses, and victims. Although the circumstances in which investigative hypnosis is used differ from case to case, there are identifiable similarities. Usually, an effort is being made to 'freshen' the memory of the witness, the witness is hypnotized by a police officer, no one is present except the law enforcement personnel and the subject, the complete proceeding is not recorded, the police hypnotist is in possession of all facts known in the case, and no effort is made to determine if the subject is in the hypnotic state. The two salient characteristics of the person who is successfully hypnotized are hypersuggestibility and hypercompliance. The witness believes that not only has the memory been improved by the hypnotic induction, but also that the improved memory must be accurate because people cannot dissemble under hypnosis. Once a statement is made under hypnosis it will not change upon subsequent questioning. Hypnosis can be useful forensically when its employment is limited to a requisite set of conditions. Hypnosis should be carried out by a psychiatrist or a psychologist with special training in its use. All contact with the subject should be videotaped until the session is completed. The session should be private. Tape recordings of interrogations held prior to the session should be reviewed to ensure that the witness has not been implicitly or impliedly cued regarding information which may be explored during the hypnotic session. Six references are provided.
Index Term(s): Criminal investigation; Forensic psychiatry; Medicolegal considerations; Police legal limitations; Questioning under hypnosis; Victims of Crime; Witnesses
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