Regarding possible harm to a hypnotic subject in the 19th century, a young man’s death was attributed to nervousness and exhaustion and diabetes due to repeated hypnosis. Other studies of death (of chickens, of a frog) due to repeated hypnotization were published. Now the consensus is that hypnosis is not dangerous (but incompetence using hypnosis may be dangerous).
In 1897 a California court refused to accept testimony of a Subject who had been hypnotized. People vs Eubanks.
The 1950’s Cornell case established that a person can be hypnotized for their own defense.
In 1963 the California supreme court ruled that a lower court made a mistake in not admitting testimony from someone who had been hypnotized.
In Harding (a Maryland case), the trauma victim, amnestic, was hypnotized one month later. The testimony was accepted. A 1983 Maryland appeals court overturned it, influenced by the California Shirley case.
In 1983 Hurd case, a victim, hypnotized, identified her husband as attacker. Lower court didn’t permit the testimony; then a higher court reversed it. The court issued what are known as the Hurd rules, governing testimony that is acceptable: 1. hypnotist is licensed psychologist or psychiatrist with training in hypnosis 2. hypnotist must be independent of both the prosecution and defense 3. all information given to the hypnotist about the case must be written 4. hypnotist must obtain a nonhypnotic account of the memory before hypnosis is used. 5. must have taped record of the hypnosis sessions (preferably videotaped) 6. only hypnotist and subject should be present in the room
Soon after, California had the Shirley case. The California court ruled hypnosis per se is unreliable because it produces confabulation. This decision had a chilling effect throughout the country for several years.
In 1987 we had Rock vs Arkansas, the first and only case involving hypnosis to come before the U. S. Supreme Court. Vicky Rock shot her husband. Under hypnosis, she remembered she did not have her finger on the trigger, and her husband grabbed her and shook her. Lower court wouldn’t admit the testimony of the gun expert, who testified the trigger was sensitive to jarring. Supreme Court ruled defendants (not necessarily others) could use hypnosis in their own defense.

Murrey, Gregory J.; Cross, Herb J.; Whipple, Jim (1992). Hypnotically created pseudomemories: Further investigation into the ‘memory distortion or response bias’ question. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 101 (1), 75-77.

In order to study whether pseudomemories represent actual memory distortions or are a result of response bias, 60 highly hypnotizable subjects and subjects from the general population were divided into 4 experimental groups and were tested for pseudomemory manifestation after receiving a false suggestion. Of the 4 groups of subjects, 3 were offered a monetary reward as a motivation to distinguish false suggestion from the actual occurrence. Pseudomemory manifestation was found to be significantly higher among subjects not offered a reward than among subjects who were offered such a reward. The implications of these findings are discussed. NOTES 1:
NOTES: The article contains a review of the literature through 1989. The study tested the hypothesis that when it is important to distinguish fantasy from reality in a hypnosis experiment, subjects can do so–a position presented by Spanos and McLean (1986). They used a verifiable event to test for pseudomemory production, as in research published by McCann and Sheehan (1988). Subjects were 30 high hypnotizable and 30 unselected students.
Subjects were shown a videotape of a mock robbery scene. The next week, Groups A, B, and C heard audiotapes “to enhance memory,” but in addition to motivating statements about “trying to remember” certain details, the tapes included misleading information (e.g. “Remember the color of the hat the robber was wearing” when in fact there was no hat on the robber). Subjects in these groups were ‘influenced.’
“Both highly hypnotizable subject groups (Groups A and B) listened to the audiotape after being administered a 10-min hypnotic induction procedure (modified from that of Barber, 1969). Subject Group C listened to the audiotape without hypnosis. The control group, Group D, did not listen to the audiotape and was, therefore, classified as ‘uninfluenced.'”
A week later subjects responded to multiple-choice and yes-no or true-false questions about the robbery scene. The yes-no question about whether the robber was wearing a hat served as the dependent variable, a measure of pseudomemory. “To motivate subjects to report the truth rather than to follow any perceived expectations of the experimental of social context, we offered subjects in Groups B, C, and D a monetary reward if they achieved the most correct answers on the quiz (according to the videotape). The reward was offered just before administration of the quiz to ensure that no collusion between the subjects could occur. Group A was not offered any such reward” (p. 76).
“The number of subjects in Group A (hypnotized, influenced, no reward) who reported the false information at posttest (12) was significantly greater then that of Group B (hypnotized, influenced, offered reward…. However, the difference in incidence of pseudomemory between Group B and the control group, Group D (not hypnotized, uninfluenced, offered reward), was nonsignificant” (p. 76).
Table 1 Incidence of Pseudomemory Per Group ——————————————————————————————- False suggestion Group A Group B Group C Group D
result (n=15) (n=15) (n=15) (n=15) ——————————————————————————————-
Accepted 12 6 7 3
Rejected 3 9 8 12 —————————————————————————————— Note. Group A = hypnotized, influenced, not offered reward.
Group B = hypnotized, influenced, offered reward.
Group C = not hypnotized, influenced, offered reward.
Group D = not hypnotized, not influenced, offered reward.
In the Discussion, the authors wrote, “Because the only variable among these groups was the reward, a reasonable conclusion from the findings is that pseudomemories manifested by the subjects were (for the most part) not actual memory distortions. Presumably, the reward provided the subjects in Group B an incentive to ‘report the truth’ and a disincentive to give biased reports on the basis of the perceived expectations of the social or experimental context. Thus these data suggest that pseudomemory effects or the occurrence of the pseudomemory phenomenon among highly hypnotizable subjects can be minimized by providing a motivation to subjects to give unbiased reports.
“A major implication of these findings is that researchers should control for response bias resulting from perceived social demands or from leading test designs when they conduct pseudomemory research. Of further concern is the fact that a number of researchers contend that hypnotic interrogation of eye-witnesses can greatly facilitate the creation of pseudomemories (Levitt, 1990; Loftus, 1979; Orne, 1979; Putnam, 1979), and therefore hypnosis either should not be allowed in the courtroom or should be strictly controlled. Yet in light of our findings, response bias may be a confound in pseudomemory research, and thus researchers need to be cautious when making inferences to specific situations from data obtained in an experimental setting.
“Despite the existence of a confound of (unmeasured) differences in hypnotizability between the two groups, there was no significant difference between Group B and the control group (Group D). This suggests that if response bias is controlled for, there may not be significant differences in manifestation of pseudomemories between highly hypnotizable subjects and subjects representative of the general population. However, further research is needed in order to address this question” (pp. 76-77).

Ofshe, Richard J. (1992). Inadvertent hypnosis during interrogation: False confession due to dissociative state; mis-identified multiple personality and the satanic cult hypothesis. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 40, 125-156.

Induction of a dissociative state followed by suggestion during interrogation caused a suspect to develop pseudo-memories of raping his daughters and of participation in a baby-murdering Satanic cult. The pseudo-memories coupled with influence from authority figures convinced him of his guilt for 6 months. During this time, the suspect, the witnesses, and all the evidence in the case were studied. No evidence supported an inference of guilt and substantial evidence supported the conclusion that no crime had been committed. An experiment demonstrated the suspect’s extreme suggestibility. The conclusion reached was that the cult did not exist and the suspect’s confessions were coerced- internalized confessions. During the investigation, 2 psychologists diagnosed the suspect as suffering from a dissociative disorder similar to multiple personality. Both psychologists were predisposed to find Satanic cult activity. Each concluded that the disorder was due to “programming” by the non-existent Satanic cult.

Perry, Nancy W. (1992, Summer). How children remember and why they forget. The Advisor (Published by American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children), 5 (3), 1-2; 13-16.

My memory is the thing I forget with.’ (a child’s definition, cited in Grossberg, 1985, p. 60)” (p. 1).
“Unlike the simpler forms of memory retrieval, free recall is strongly age-related… the recall skills of preschool children develop gradually” (p. 2). “…in some cases, younger children can provide _more_ accurate information than adults (Lindberg, 1991). For example, if an event is particularly salient (as sometimes happens in cases of trauma), recall may be exceptionally good (Brainerd & Ornstein, 1991; Lindberg, 1991)” (p. 13).
“Children have limited ability to use memory strategies. For this reason, children often know more than they can freely recall” (p. 13).
“The use of _rehearsal_ as a memory strategy is almost automatic for adults. … Ten-year-olds also commonly use rehearsal to aid memory. Young children, however, have not mastered rehearsal (Harris & Liebert, 1991).
“Another memory strategy is imagery, which involves (1) mentally picturing a person, place, or object, or (2) visually associating two or more things that are to be remembered. Children develop imagery much later than other memory strategies. Indeed, some people never learn this memory strategy (Flavell, 1977)” (p. 13).
“… stress alone may not impair memory processes. Indeed, stress can lead to arousal, heightened attention, and improved encoding (Deffenbacher, 1983). However, stress that results from intimidation may lead to either impairment in encoding or problems in recalling or reporting memories” (p. 14).
“Because the effect of suggestion on material that has been well encoded tends not to be significantly different across age groups (Cohen & Harnick, 1980), it may be that younger children’s inferior performance on suggestive tasks results from inferior encoding” (p. 15).

Summit, Roland C. (1992, Summer). Opinion: Misplaced attention to delayed memory. The Advisor (Published by American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children), 5 (3), 21-25.

I believe this is the time to cap a century of progress with a monumental achievement in awareness. We must cherish and develop the concept that what we don’t know can hurt us. We can establish, for the first time, that our lives and even the nature of our society can be shaped by experiences so terrible that they are, in the words of Josef Breuer a century ago, ‘forbidden to consciousness’ (1895, p. 225). We may learn that huge chunks of oppositional thought, cruelty, perversity, helplessness, self-destruction and mental illness are derived from this hidden reservoir of suffering, and we could inspire unprecedented achievements in healing, prevention and enlightened peacemaking” (p. 21).
“We have been slow to consider the implications of dissociation for protective awareness of child sexual abuse” (p. 22).
“And we should respect the painful threat that enlightenment poses for our comforting faith in a just and fair society. We would have to consider that we may be capable as a people of hiding our most grotesque activities under the cover of dissociation, so that we don’t know we’re doing it, our victims can’t say it’s happening, and as an outer society we will insist that no such thing could possibly exist” (p. 22).
“While it is urgently important to know that dissociation is real, it is doubly important not to endorse as accurate, in fact, details or encounters that may be part of a still unknown process of distortion” (p. 22).
“The most distinguished clinicians, the people who occupy the platform of authority as scientists and educators, are joining with those who, until now, have been recognized mainly for their adversarial positions. Now those two poles are coming together in aroused opposition to the phenomenon of delayed memory, especially when acquired in therapy with young women in their 30’s, especially when those therapists lack an M.D. or a Ph.D. diploma. We face, once again, an ageist, sexist, elitist professional standoff around an issue that deserves to be explored in harmony” (p. 24).
“In California and several other states the statute of limitations has been suspended for individuals who can demonstrate delayed discovery of childhood trauma” (p. 24).
“The rush to judgment is not confined to civil litigation. There is no statute of limitations on murder” (p. 24).
“How many kids have hidden the memory of unspeakable assaults which can be unearthed years later to plunge them into courtroom testimony? How many free citizens could be sued or imprisoned by such remote discoveries? What should we do as scientists in support of or in opposition to those delayed memories?” (P. 24).
“We know that skepticism can quash the emergence of dissociated memories. Can we prove that therapeutic zeal cannot enhance such memories? Survivors who gain a clear picture of sexual assault in the climactic period of discovery tend to fade out the sharp edges as they achieve resolution and healing. The most seasoned survivors may discount the intermediate memories which once provided the impetus for their recovery” (p. 25).

Gibson, H. B. (1991). Can hypnosis compel people to commit harmful, immoral and criminal acts?: A review of the literature. Contemporary Hypnosis, 8, 129-140.

The literature relating to whether hypnosis can be used to compel people to perform acts that are dangerous, immoral or criminal is reviewed, some evidence over the past 200 years being discussed. Relevant real-life instances are cited as well as the laboratory studies of the twentieth century. Detailed criticisms of the latter are made, and it is shown that although no really conclusive findings have emerged, such research has strongly implied that hypnosis does not increase compliance. Four past criminal trials concerned with alleged rape and sexual assault are cited. It is concluded that whilst hypnosis may be one among a number of techniques used in sexual seduction, it is not reasonable to claim that rape has ever been effected by means of hypnosis alone.
Review of literature that concludes that while hypnosis may be one among a number of techniques used in sexual seduction, it is not reasonable to claim that rape has ever been effected by means of hypnosis alone.

Grabowski, Karen L.; Roese, Neal J.; Thomas, Michael R. (1991). The role of expectancy in hypnotic hypermnesia: A brief communication. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 39, 193-197.

Previous research has yielded equivocal evidence of hypnotic memory enhancement. This study assessed effects of expectancy and hypnotizability on recall for videotaped material under waking and hypnotic conditions. Ss (n – 138) were informed of hypnotic induction either before (expectancy condition) or after (no expectancy condition) watching a videotaped enactment of a crime and completing an initial waking recall test (R1). Both groups then underwent hypnotic induction, and completed the test again (R2). Ss’ raw recall scores were significantly greater under hypnotic than waking conditions, but this hypermnesia was not evident when scores were corrected for mere increase in rate of responding. Ss expecting later hypnosis scored significantly higher than Ss with no such expectations, but again, this different was not evident in corrected scores. Hypnotizability of Ss was, however, related to corrected recall, with high hypnotizability Ss displaying the greatest increase in rate of responding from R1 to R2. No evidence for the hypothesized “suppression effect” underlying hypnotic hypermnesia was found. NOTES 1:
NOTES: Thus Ss tended to answer more questions on R2 but most of this increase was error. Moreover, high hypnotizability Ss displayed this pattern to a far greater extent than other Ss, indicating that they were more likely than others to increase the no. of responses made between tests.
The finding of an interaction effect between hypnotizability and corrected recall suggests that hypnosis does play some role in the hypnotic hypermnesia described in the literature, possibly refuting the findings of several recent studies (e.g., Nogrady, McConkey, & Perry, 1986; Register & Kihlstrom, 1987). High hypnotizability Ss increased the number of responses made from R1 to R2 to a greater extent than other Ss. The lack of an interaction between hypnotizability and expectancy, however, fails to support the suggestion by Salzberg and DePiano (1980) that people of differing hypnotizabilities differ also in their susceptibility to demand biases.
As both Klazky and Erdelyi (1985) and Whitehouse et al. (1988) have noted, however, the use of hypnosis with witnesses of crimes may be useful if it can stimulate individuals to share uncertain recollections, perhaps providing otherwise unconsidered clues. The present data suggest that such guessing may also be increased by mere expectation of hypnosis. The value of forensic hypnosis may, therefore, be in part one similar to placebo: the simple notion of hypnosis placed in witnesses’ minds may be sufficient to inspire useful leads.

Smith, William H. (1991). Antecedents of posttraumatic stress disorder: Wasn’t being raped enough? A brief communication. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 39, 129-133.

Many rape victims, like those traumatized by war, accidents, and natural disasters, are able to recover from their ordeal with supportive, crisis-oriented treatment. For others, however, symptoms may persist and require more intensive treatment. Hypnosis allows a modulated re-experiencing and abreaction of the traumatic event that can help to provide the victim with a relieving sense of mastery, and it fosters a receptive context for reassurance and interpretation regarding the irrational or exaggerated thoughts and feelings involved. 2 case examples are presented in which earlier conflicts appeared to play a role in perpetuating the patients’ symptoms. Detecting and addressing these antecedents resulted in complete alleviation of long-standing problems through relatively brief treatment using hypnosis.

Spanos, Nicholas P.; DuBreuil, Susan C.; Gwynn, Maxwell I. (1991). The effects of expert testimony concerning rape on the verdicts and beliefs of mock jurors. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 11, 37-51.

Mock jurors heard one of 4 versions of a ‘date rape’ case and deliberated in small groups, to a verdict. Exposure to the direct examination of an expert who testified about rape myths undermined belief in the defendant’s testimony that sex with the complainant had been consensual, and increased the frequency of guilty votes. However, exposure to the expert’s cross-examination reversed the effects of the direct examination on the frequency of guilty votes. Women jurors disbelieved the defendant and voted him guilty to a greater extent than male jurors, while in both sexes profeminist attitudes correlated with disbelief in the defendant’s testimony but failed to correlate significantly with final verdicts. Implications are discussed.

Wagstaff, Graham F. (1991). Hypnosis and harmful and antisocial acts: Some theoretical and empirical issues. Contemporary Hypnosis, 8, 141-146.

The author analyses paper in same issue of this journal: Gibson, H. B. (1991). Can hypnosis compel people to commit harmful, immoral and criminal acts?: A review of the literature. He presents a critique from the point of view of “state” theorists, and concludes: “Where does this leave us? The area seems to be a potential minefield for any unsuspecting dissociationist. Personally, I think that both parsimony, and what empirical evidence there is, point to a non-state approach to this issue. However, despite the inevitable uncertainties and differences of opinion, there is perhaps a very obvious and important lesson to be gained by all from studies in this area. It has been fashionable to write off experimental studies on this topic on the grounds that subjects in these studies generally perceive the situation as ‘safe’; this is not only the case in hypnosis research but also in general social-psychological work on obedience (see, for example, Orne & Holland, 1968; Mixon, 1974). Some have questioned this assumption that subjects only obey the experimenter when they perceive the situation to be safe (see Barber, 1969; Milgram, 1974), but what often goes unnoticed is the significance of this assumption in itself. If labeling a situation as ‘hypnosis’, or even just an ‘experiment’, can make subjects think that any apparently harmful act they are requested to perform is safe, think of the implications; here, in itself, is a potentially powerful, even lethal, mechanism by which people in hypnotic contexts may be induced to perform harmful and antisocial acts. They perform them because, given the context, they think it is safe to do so! In the study of Orne and Evans the venomous snake the subjects were instructed to grasp was placed behind an ‘invisible’ glass screen, and the acid they were instructed to throw at the experimenter had been, allegedly unknown to them, replaced by a harmless liquid; one wonders, however, if writers would be so dismissive if the liquid that Orne and Evans’ subjects threw at the experimenter had actually burned him, or the snake that they picked up had actually killed them” (pp. 144-45).

Coe, William C. (1990). Are the Conclusions Valid? Invited discussion of Levitt, Baker, and Fish: Some conditions of compliance and resistance among hypnotic subjects. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 32 (4), 237-239.

The authors confounded variables, e.g. hypnotic susceptibility and monetary incentive (in Study IV), and Study IV was different from the other 3 studies, so that any differences/similarities between these studies can’t be attributed to susceptibility level, degree of incentive, or interaction between them.
A simulator design would clarify why 50% of Ss in Study IV did not resist and lost $100; also, postexperimental interviews focusing on Ss’ reasons for resisting or not resisting would be helpful. Did nonresisters actually believe that they would receive $100 for resisting?
The Subject population was not homogeneous in occupation, and students are financially poorer than others–which would affect incentive strength. Were those who resisted the ones who could use the money the most?
Small sample sizes obviating statistical tests is a problem. Coe nevertheless evaluates 4 variables in terms of the ‘power’ of their effects on hypnosis: 1. Susceptibility level. Studies I, II, and III all show correlations between hypnotizability and compliance with resistance, suggesting that high hypnotizables are not as susceptible to resistance manipulation; however across studies, highs in one study seem to comply at the same rate as lows in another study, and as many as 50% of high hypnotizables in the strong incentive ($100) study were able to resist suggestions. 2. View of the Hypnotist. Coe states that one can’t evaluate the question with the data given. One would need an experimental condition that would also create a negative view of the hypnotist, as all samples tended to view the hypnotist positively. 3. View of Resistance Instructor. Again, one would need a research design that separates the effects of hypnotic susceptibility from effects of Ss’ views of the resistance instructor. “Nevertheless, Study IV suggests that for high susceptibles the view of the resistance instructor has little effect. Three resisters viewed him as positive, whereas the other three viewed him as negative; further, nearly all of the nonresisters viewed him as neutral” (p. 238). 4. Degree of Incentive. This too was confounded with susceptibility level, as “the higher value was only offered to the very high susceptibles in study IV. Half of them took it, half did not” (pp. 238-239).
Coe also remarks that “the expectational effects on subjects of being in an experiment have not been addressed adequately. It is possible that the experimental paradigm as currently presented is incapable of providing an unambiguous answer to the question of coercion. In naturalistic settings subjects may react quite differently than they do when they know they are participating in an experiment” (p. 239).

Gwynn, Maxwell I.; Quigley, Celia; Perlini, Arthur; Glatt, Richard; Spanos, Nicholas P. (1990, August). Eyewitness testimony: Effects of hypnotic interrogation and witness preparation. [Paper] Presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Boston.

There is notable absence of empirical research on the effects of witness preparation on subsequent testimony. The present study investigates the separate and combined effects of hypnotic recall procedures and witness preparation on subjects’ confidence in, and maintenance during cross-examination, of mug-shot identifications.
Session 1: Subjects viewed a 65 second videotape of a mock crime involving a shooting. The offender in this video was a male approximately 40-50 years old, whose face was partially obscured by the brim of a baseball cap.
Subjects were then taken individually to another room, where a second experimenter presented them with a series of five photographic mug shots. Half of the series contained the mug shot; the other did not. Subjects indicate if any portrayed the offender and then to rate their confidence in their identification.
Subjects for Session 2 were randomly assigned to one of two conditions:
Hypnotic condition … followed by “reliving” instructions modeled after Reiser’s procedures used in training police detectives.
Nonhypnotic condition … Each subject was then presented with the mug shot lineup and rated their confidence as in Session 1 with the same second experimenter.
Subjects who in Session 2 identified any mug shot as portraying the offender returned about one week after for a mock courtroom appearance. Subjects were randomly assigned to either a “prepared” condition, or a “nonprepared” condition, with the restriction of equal numbers of offender-present vs. offender-absent lineups and hypnotic vs. nonhypnotic subjects in each condition … The subject-witness was questioned by the third same experimenter under direct examination and then cross-examined by a fourth experimenter in the role of defense attorney.
Subjects in the prepared condition were given pointers concerning their courtroom appearance. These pointers included counseling to answer all of the questions fully, to speak in complete sentences, and to present themselves confidently.
The videotapes of the subjects’ testimonies were then shown to independent blind raters who rated the degree of confidence displayed by the subject-witness at two points, first after direct examination, and again after cross-examination.
To summarize the results: 1) As in a number of previous studies, eyewitness confidence was unrelated to mug shot identification accuracy. 2) The use of hypnotic techniques as practiced by many police investigators did not lead to an increase in the frequency or accuracy with which subjects identified a mug shot as portraying a previously viewed offender. 3) Again consistent with previous research, the use of hypnosis did lead to an increase in eyewitness confidence, without a corresponding increase in accuracy, and this confidence increase was correlated with pretested levels of hypnotic susceptibility. 4) Contrary to the speculation of researchers such as Orne, Laurence & Perry, hypnotic procedures _did not_ lead to the creation of unshakable witnesses who were impervious to cross-examination. And, 5) The usual practice of pre-trial preparation of witnesses _did_ lead to a resistance of witnesses to be broken down under cross-examination.
In conclusion, the key factor found to affect eyewitness confidence and mug shot identification was _not_ the use of hypnotic memory enhancement techniques, but rather the usual practice of pre-trial witness preparation.

Halleck, Seymore L. (1990). Dissociative phenomena and the question of responsibility. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 38, 298-314.

There are many controversies regarding the prevalence, causation, possible iatrogenicity, and treatment of multiple personality disorder. Those who view the disorder as much more prevalent than has previously been suspected believe it is caused by experiences of severe child abuse and have used rather unorthodox techniques to help the patient relate the experience of abuse to current problems of dissociation. Other clinicians believe the disorder is overdiagnosed and that it may be created or made worse by therapists who unwittingly reinforce symptoms of dissociation. Many of the controversies about these issues can be clarified by considering the manner in which clinicians attribute responsibility for undesirable conduct associated with the disorder. In dealing with multiple personality patients, clinicians regularly must decide whether their therapeutic approach will emphasize the patient’s responsibility for undesirable conduct or will minimize it. Practical and theoretical arguments can be made for both approaches. There are important consequences to patients using either approach, and particularly harmful consequences with inconsistent approaches. Clinical experience and wisdom dictate that until we have more objective data about the results of various forms of treatment, the preferred method of treatment of multiple personality patients should continue to focus upon maximizing their responsibility for any type of undesirable conduct.

Hoencamp, Erik (1990). Sexual abuse and the abuse of hypnosis in the therapeutic relationship. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 38, 283-297.

In the Netherlands, individuals charged with rape may be prosecuted only in instances in which the suspect could have known that the victim was unconscious or in a state of powerlessness. Hypnosis might be looked upon as a method by which an unscrupulous person could sustain such a state of powerlessness in a victim. As an expert witness, the present author participated in a court case against a lay hypnotist who was accused of abusing 9 women. The methods and strategy used by the lay hypnotist are presented as well as are the diverse reactions of the women involved in the case. Feelings of nonvolition appear to have been a relevant factor in the coercion, especially in women who demonstrated hypnotic phenomena such as arm levitation, catalepsy, etc. The basis for sexual coercion was established only after the interpersonal relationship had been redefined as a therapeutic relationship. Introduction within the pseudotherapeutic relationship of a sexual rationale for the presented complaints helped to provide a framework for actual sexual acts to occur. With certain individual patients, the introduction of hypnosis enhanced the subjective experience of nonvolition and with it the vulnerability for abuse. It may be hypothesized that patients with a tendency for external attribution and high hypnotizability are specifically at risk for this kind of abuse when hypnosis is used in the context of a therapeutic relationship.

Perry, Campbell (1990). Coercion by hypnosis? Invited discussion of Levitt, Baker, and Fish: Some conditions of compliance and resistance among hypnotic subjects. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 32 (4), 242-243.

A postexperimental inquiry (following Orne, 1959) might have informed the reader of the degree to which operationalization of the coercion in terms of disobedience was successful. Without this additional step, it is difficult to determine whether what was found in the laboratory by these investigators applies to what has been reported in clinical and field settings for almost 200 years” (p. 242).
“In particular, elsewhere, the authors equate coercion with involuntariness and appear to view involition as a euphemism for coercion. While I agree that perceiving involition of one’s own behavior may contribute to the commission of unconsenting acts in hypnosis, the two are easily distinguished at the conceptual level. Laboratory subjects ordinarily report much behavior in hypnosis that is experienced involuntarily, without the issue of it being coerced ever being broached” (p. 242).
Author describes cases in which patients claimed they participated in sex with hypnotist against their wills because they were hypnotized. “What may be happening in both of these reports is that the hypnotized subjects found themselves responding involuntarily; from this, they appear to have adduced that they could not resist the hypnotist’s suggestion. That is, they were coerced not by hypnosis but by their belief, which was a direct function of the experience of involuntariness, that they could not resist” (p. 243). “In short, if a hypnotized person equates involuntary behavior with powerlessness, “coercion” may occur in this limited sense. Conceptually, this appears to be a far cry from equating involition with coercion” (p. 243).

Spiegel, David (1990). Theoretical and empirical resistance to hypnotic compliance. Invited discussion of Levitt, Baker, and Fish: Some conditions of compliance and resistance among hypnotic subjects. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 32 (4), 243-245.

Does hypnosis bypass the will, facilitate coercion? The hardest thing for trauma victims to do is to admit helplessness. Furthermore, it is interesting that these same dissociative phenomena seem to be elicited by traumatic experience, the stark imposition of involuntariness (Stutman & Bliss, 1985; Spiegel, Hunt, & Dondershine, 1988). What, then, are we to make of experiments that purport to show that hypnotizable and hypnotized individuals comply with hypnotic instructions irrationally? At some level this challenges our comfortable belief that we always act in our enlightened self-interest, unaffected by unwanted influence. If that can happen even once, our pride of self- ownership is reduced.
Taken as a whole, the studies show that high hypnotizables comply with hypnotic instructions, even in the face of resistance instructions, whereas low hypnotizables are less likely to, especially when conditions foster a relatively less negative view of the resistance instructor. As the authors note, subjects always viewed the hypnotist more positively than the resistance instructor, which in itself suggests the nonrational influence intrinsic to hypnosis. Free will is not abrogated, it is simply not exercised. The Ss are fundamentally choosing whether or not to comply. Half of the highs in Study IV resisted the hypnotic instruction. However, hypnotized individuals tend to narrow the focus of attention, thereby reducing their ability to consider alternatives such as the resistance instruction.
William James (1890) believed that all ideas were invitations to action. Why, then, do we not act on every idea we have, he pondered on a snowy morning while lying in bed. He observed that he would try to get himself to arise by picturing himself doing so. “Why, then, am I still in bed?” He realized that he was editing the primary idea, reflecting on how cold it was, how long it would take to light a fire, and how much time he had until his classes. In a state characterized by a narrowing of the focus of attention, we are less likely to edit the primary idea, and therefore more likely to act. In the experiments presented, the resistance instructor attempts to act as an external editor on the primary hypnotic instruction. Those capable of focusing attention sufficiently disattend to the editing and comply. These studies show that, thankfully, hypnosis is less than automatic submission to instruction but, interestingly, more than simple conscious response to new information.

Gibson, H. B. (1989). The Home Office attitude to forensic hypnosis: A victory for scientific evidence or for medical conservatism?. [Comment/Discussion] .

The author is in agreement with the Home Office Circular (August 1988) that advises against the use of hypnosis in police investigations. However he disagrees with the Circular statement that “‘There may be danger that, in some cases, the experience of hypnosis may cause longer term harm to the mental health of the subject…’ This is certainly not true if the proceedings are carried out by a competent health professional” (p. 26).

Lindsay, D. S.; Johnson, M. K. (1989). The eyewitness suggestibility effect and memory for source. Memory and Cognition, 17, 349-358.
Examined the possibility that eyewitness suggestibility reflects failures of the processes by which people normally discriminate between memories derived from different sources. Misled and control subjects were tested either with a yes/no recognition test or with a “source-monitoring” test designed to orient Ss to attend to information about the sources of their memories. The results demonstrate that suggestibility effects obtained with a recognition test can be eliminated by orienting Ss toward thinking about the sources of their memories while taking the test. Findings indicate that although misled Ss are capable of identifying the source of their memories of misleading suggestions, they nonetheless sometimes misidentify them as memories derived from the original event. The extent to which such errors reflect genuine memory confusions (produced, for example by lay judgment criteria) or conscious misattributions (perhaps due to demand characteristics) remains to be specified.

Pinizzotto, Anthony J. (1989). Memory and hypnosis: Implications for the use of forensic hypnosis. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 20 (5), 322-328.

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

Sanders, Glenn S.; Gansler, David A.; Reisman, Stephen Jr. (1989). The effects of hypnosis on eyewitness testimony and reactions to cross-examination. American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 7, 33-60.

Investigative hypnosis has been a widely used and valuable police technique, but recent court rulings have expressed reservations about the admissibility of hypnotically related testimony. The proposed research is the first directly relevant evaluation of the most serious of the courts’ reservations: the allegation that hypnosis produces excessive and unshakable levels of confidence in witnesses, thereby effectively denying opposing counsel the right of cross-examination. Volunteers from the community witnessed a simulated crime, and were then interviewed by a professional police investigator to obtain evidence and testimony. Two-thirds of these witnesses were randomly assigned to have their memory refreshed by one of two hypnotic induction techniques. All witnesses were subsequently examined and cross-examined by a pair of practicing criminal lawyers, and their videotaped testimony was evaluated by another volunteer sample of community residents serving as jurors. On both objective and subjective measures, hypnotized witnesses provided more complete and internally consistent testimony. However, neither form of hypnotic induction led to greater witness confidence, credibility, or resistance to cross-examination. Our results generally replicate previous findings in a more realistic investigative simulation. The discussion considers artifactual explanations of the confidence null effects, and explores theoretical and policy implications of the data.

People responding to a newspaper ad asking for volunteers who would be paid for participating in psychology research at the State University were later asked to undergo hypnosis. Of 45 who responded to the ad, six (13%) declined to have hypnosis. This rate of refusal has relevance to research on clinical hypnosis that requires paid volunteer participants.

Schuyler, Bradley A.; Coe, William C. (1989). More on volitional experiences and breaching posthypnotic amnesia. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 37, 320-331.

Highly responsive hypnotic subjects, who were classified as having control over remembering (voluntaries) or not having control over remembering (involuntaries) during posthypnotic amnesia, were compared with each other on four physiological measures (heart rate, electrodermal response, respiration rate, muscle tension) during posthypnotic recall. Two contextual conditions were employed: One was meant to create pressure to breach posthypnotic amnesia (lie detector instructions); the other, a relax condition, served as a control. The recall data confirmed earlier findings of Howard and Coe and showed that voluntary subjects under the lie detector condition recalled more than the other three samples that did not differ from each other. However, using another measure of voluntariness showed that both voluntary and involuntary subjects breached under lie detector conditions. Electrodermal response supported the subjects’ reports of control in this case. Physiological measures were otherwise insignificant. The results are discussed as they relate to (a) studies attempting to breach posthypnotic amnesia, (b) the voluntary/involuntary classification of subjects, and (c) theories of hypnosis.

The authors suggest that subjects observe themselves not remembering (i.e. not reporting memories) and conclude that they therefore could not remember. Such subjects, they say, are deceiving themselves in so far as they could remember if they were to direct their attention to salient cues.

Watkins, John G. (1989). Hypnotic hypermnesia and forensic hypnosis: A cross-examination. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 32, 71-83.

Early enthusiasm for the hypnotic enhancement of memories of witnesses has faded since publication of a number of experimental studies which cast doubt on its efficacy and reported also that pseudo-memories could be confabulated under hypnosis. This has caused some investigators to assert that hypnosis should never be used to enhance the memories of eyewitnesses testifying in court. Many of these studies are themselves subject to errors in sampling, biases, and ignoring of the ‘hypnotic relationship’ effect. It is premature to recommend complete elimination of hypnotic hypermnesia in court situations, and several recent Supreme Court decisions seem to agree. Results of some previously unpublished studies are reported, plus suggestions for improving research approaches to studies of hypnotic memory enhancement.

Coons, P. M. (1988). Misuse of forensic hypnosis: A hynotically elicited false confession with the apparent creation of a multiple personality. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 36 (1), 1-11.

A case is presented in which there was flagrant misuse of forensic hypnosis. The patient, a woman in her early 30s, was accused of shooting her 2 children. During a hypnotic interview, the police hypnotist used an extremely suggestive interrogative technique, and the suspect produced an apparent secondary personality who confessed to the shootings. Subsequently the prosecutor tried to enter the “hypnotic confession” as evidence against the defendant. The evidence was dis-allowed because of the manner in which it was obtained and because of the lack of verification from other sources. The literature regarding the use of forensic hypnosis is reviewed as is the literature regarding multiple personality and the experimental production of multiple personality-like phenomena.

Gudjonsson, Gisli (1988). Interrogative suggestibility: Its relationship with assertiveness, social-evaluative anxiety, state anxiety and method of coping. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 27 (2), 159-166.

Investigated in 30 adults some of the theoretical components related to individual differences thought by the present author and R. Clark (1986) to mediate interrogative suggestibility as measured by a scale developed by the present author (1984). The variables studied were assertiveness, social-evaluative anxiety, state anxiety, and the coping methods generated and implemented during interrogation. Low assertiveness and high evaluative anxiety correlated moderately with suggestibility, but no significant correlations emerged for social avoidance and distress. State anxiety correlated significantly with suggestibility, particularly after negative feedback had been administered. Coping methods (active-cognitive/behavioral vs. avoidance) significantly predicted suggestibility scores. The findings give strong support to the present author’s theoretical model.

McConkey, Kevin M.; Kinoshita, S. (1988). The influence of hypnosis on memory after one day and one week. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 97, 48-53.

High- and low-hypnotizable subjects were given repeated tests in either hypnotic or awake conditions to recall pictures they had seen either one day or one week earlier. Hypnotic procedures were associated with increased memory performance by subjects; specifically, hypnotic subjects reported more correct material. Also, hypnotic procedures were associated with increased confidence in memory reports; in particular, high- hypnotizable Ss tested in the hypnotic condition displayed the most confident errors. The pattern of findings for subjects tested after one day differed from that of subjects tested after one week, and this difference was related to the subjects’ hypnotizability. Findings are discussed in terms of memory performance and the confidence associated with that performance.

Perry, Campbell (1988, November). An interactionist position on hypnosis. [Paper] Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Asheville, NC.

Success in pain reduction is much greater in clinic (Crasilneck; Melzack et al; Cedercrentz – skull injury) than in lab (Hilgard’s studies of highs and lows).
Central to the disagreement about special state/socio-behavioral theories is the question, “What are the origins of beliefs about hypnosis?” The beliefs can be modified by experience, which is mediated by individual differences.
Author suggests trying to predict which individual will respond to which hypnosis item. Since there are at least 3 factors in hypnotizability scales, one needs a number of variables to do this type of research. Nadon et al (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1987) predicted hypnotizability with PICS (an imagery control test) and Absorption scale plus Evans’ Sleep Questionnaire subscale plus Belief in [paranormal events] subscale: predictions were 63% correct. PICS (as compared with other imagery tests) reflects imagery as a _preferred mode_ of thinking. Now, can we predict who will make highly confident errors when asked to remember details of a crime? Who is more vulnerable when told a pseudomemory is veridical?
In a test of this question, mimicking a field setting, the authors weren’t able to predict the people who would make errors, who functioned at the same level following neutral instructions (“We don’t know what we’ll find”) and Reiser-type instructions (“You can use a zoom lens to see the scene up close”) in hypnosis. Also, the effect of an increase in confident errors was greater for highs than for lows. People with high hypnotizability and low PICS made the most errors. N.B. Since lows also increased in errors, one should be cautious in any case.
Creation of pseudomemory research: Using SHSS:C and PICS one can predict 81% of those who accepted and reported the implanted pseudomemory.

Sheehan, Peter W. (1988). Memory distortion in hypnosis. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 36, 296-311.

This paper presents data from a programmatic series of studies that varied the range of conditions affecting potential increase of recall, memory distortions, and distortions of confidence during and following hypnosis. All the studies used a paradigm that exposed Ss to misleading information some time before memory was tested and applied procedures in the hypnotic setting to analyze memory performance in both recognition and free recall. Results from the program failed to demonstrate any increment in accurate memory due to hypnosis, and the accuracy of memory reports in hypnosis was at times significantly reduced. Further, hypnotic recall was distinctively distorted when false information was introduced after, rather than before hypnosis. Results were discussed in relation to the role hypnotic as opposed to contextual variables may play in explaining Ss’ memory test performances, and some legal implications are drawn from the data.

This article investigates 3 major questions: 1. whether hypnosis makes recollections more susceptible to error 2. whether hypnosis reliably enhances recall 3. whether hypnosis alters certitude of what is remembered, independent of accuracy
The author reviews earlier literature, noting that different methodologies lead to different, sometimes conflicting, results. He uses Loftus’ methods, which “allows for systematic exposure to specific information that is erroneous and examines the after- effects of that exposure on subsequent attempts to remember” (p. 298). The Ss are tested initially for memory of an incident, with subtle introduction of false information; then retested in way that probes for correct recall/recognition by presenting the incorrect information as an alternative for response. (Loftus has presented the position that misinformation is incorporated into waking memory, and this examines whether the addition of hypnosis–especially with Ss who are highly hypnotizable–increases the effects.)
Sheehan reports six studies that varied type of memory test (free recall, recognition); type of instruction (hypnotic, waking, simulating); and level of hypnotizability (high, low). Each study dealt with the same incident that depicted an apparent robbery and three false pieces of information about the incident were presented to Ss in the misleading condition. The studies have been published elsewhere as: –Study 1 Sheehan & Tilden, 1983: High and low hypnotizable Ss tested under hypnosis & waking conditions. False information is given before hypnosis. –Study 2 Sheehan & Tilden, 1984: Real & simulating Ss presented with false information prior to hypnotic induction. –Study 3 Sheehan & Tilden, 1986: High hypnotizable and motivated low hypnotizable Ss presented with false information prior to hypnosis. –Study 4 Sheehan, Grigg, & McCann, 1984: Real & simulating Ss presented with false information after hypnotic induction. –Study 5 Sheehan & Grigg, 1985: High hypnotizable and motivated low hypnotizable Ss presented with false information after hypnotic induction –Study 6 (this article reports): High and low hypnotizable Ss tested under hypnosis and waking conditions. False information is given after hypnosis. Scene shown is described by hypnotist in a congruent (robbery) or incongruent (friendly encounter) way
Ss tended to give incorrect responses along the lines of the false cues, but this effect was not greater when hypnosis occurred after the leading information had been given. In two experiments (#4 and #5) the effect was associated with hypnosis. Thus, when Ss are hypnotized they are more likely to be misled by false information. Study 6 did not demonstrate the incorporation of false information into memory, possibly because there was a longer delay between presentation of the information and the memory test itself. This weakening effect of delay has also been shown by Loftus et al. (1978). High hypnotizable Ss in the hypnosis condition showed more distortion than lows not hypnotized in 4 of the 6 studies evidencing distortion.
The authors note that “confidence may be maintained in the hypnosis setting despite the presence of substantial inaccuracy. … Simulating Ss performed just as confidently as real Ss … raising the question that context may determine the results for confidence among real Ss. … Where expectations were out of phase with stimulus events [Study 6], confidence effects involving hypnosis did not emerge” (pp. 304-305).
“Overall, data indicated that hypnotic instruction may be more reliably associated with confidence than level of hypnotizability, though both variables are associated with confidence at one time or another. What is not clear, however, is whether hypnosis itself is at issue or the context of which hypnosis forms a part. That context, of course, may include the belief of Ss brought to the formal test situation that hypnosis increases memory. … Simulating Ss reported higher confidence levels than real Ss when results were analyzed just for the hypnotic setting …, for recognition testing in Study 4; simulating Ss were not distinct from hypnotic Ss under waking conditions of testing. It seems that the hypnotic setting itself, or expectations about it, obviously communicated that an expression of strong conviction was required. Collectively, results demonstrated that simulating Ss believed that a hypnotized person would be more confident, and they therefore reported greater confidence levels during their act of pretense” (pp. 305-306).
In their discussion, the authors note that there was more evidence for mis- reporting than for accuracy, but that hypnosis did not produce more error unless false information was given during hypnosis. High hypnotizable Ss produce many errors with a high level of confidence, but since simulators feign hypnosis by reporting high levels of confidence, it may be expectations about the ability of hypnosis to improve recall that influences these results. “Such expectations may influence hypnotic recall for all Ss, but this would not explain differential levels of confidence between high and low hypnotizable Ss when both are tested in exactly the same way–that is, when task demands are held constant” (p. 306).
“One major implication of the data is that future research should move away from focusing only on the truth validation or distorting influence of hypnosis to emphasize the role contextual features may play in accentuating memory distortion effects” (p. 307). “The one clear finding across all of the studies in the program was that hypnosis does not increase memory, and the findings provide no basis to justify the forensic application of hypnosis given that the point of forensic application is that hypnosis will help memory. Data also indicate that when leading questions are asked under hypnosis, they are likely to be more effective in distorting memory reports than when such questions are asked without hypnosis. Low resistance to misinformation was present among both hypnotic and waking Ss, but separated the two groups when the false information was given in hypnosis.
“One of the major inferences … is that the most substantial risk to using hypnosis may lie not only with the tendency to mis-report itself, but with the tendency for hypnotic Ss to be convinced in their reporting no matter what the accuracy of their statements. This effect was pervasive enough that it may offer sufficient grounds for restricting how hypnosis should be used forensically” (p. 308).