Should More Investigators Use Hypnosis to Get at the Truth?

While discussion on the value of hypnosis hasn’t been a hot topic per se among investigators in the last few months, at least one researcher has looked into the potential for hypnosis to help uncover the truth when it comes to conducting interrogations. Learn what Edward F. Deshere posits in a CIA publication entitled Hypnosis in Interrogation and weigh the advantages and limitations yourself.

When it comes to the idea of hypnosis, researchers in a wide array of fields have investigated its use to learn more about its value from pain management to anxiety-lowering benefits. Others have looked at the psychological function in order to speak to bigger questions surrounding human behavior like lying, lying under oath, protecting classified information and eliciting truth from suspects.

The answer to whether or not law enforcement should be using hypnosis is a tough one to answer. In fact, it’s impossible to give a categorical yes or not to the question.

Here is the situation.

Yes, hypnotism really has been used as part of the treatment and therapy of various physical and psychological conditions. Through its ability to tap into the subconscious and to intensify focus and concentration, hypnosis can help you be more attuned with your intellectual and emotional capacity; thus helping you modify your habits and behaviors, or wield more control over the way you think and analyze.

But no, it is not the cure-all for problems, nor does it have a proven record of working in a repeatable way when it comes to confessions and witness testimony. It is not proven to be effective every time, as you may hear claimed. In fact, the United States general surgeon reports there is insufficient evidence to support hypnosis even as a treatment for smoking cessation. Again, the effectiveness of hypnotism depends on each and every different case it is being used for.

According to a study run by Edward F. Deshere which was published in a CIA article entitled Hypnosis in Interrogation, the challenges of harnassing the value of hypnosis far outweigh the possible benefits. He summarizes his work by noting the following factors:

  1. “It appears extremely doubtful that trance can be induced in resistant subjects.
  2. It may be possible to hypnotize a person without his being aware of it, but this would require a positive relationship between hypnotist and subject not likely to be found in the interrogation setting.
  3. It is doubtful that proscribed behavior call be induced against the subject’s wishes, though we must admit that crucial experiments to resolve this question have not yet been performed.
  4. The evidence indicates that information obtained during hypnosis need not be accurate and may in fact contain untruths, despite hypnotic suggestions to the contrary.”

The finality of it is that at least for now, don’t expect law enforcement agents to be using hypnosis to elicit confessions and don’t expect the testimony “I was hypnotized” to exonerate a person who has committed a violent crime.

When You Are Ready for a Confession

When your subject is ready to make a confession, they need to freely make their confession, without being coerced or “tricked” into it. And you as an agent of the law need to be ready to capture that testimony with top-of-the-line equipment.

If you’re ready to upgrade your recording system or just want to learn more, connect with an iRecord expert today. We’d love to fill you in.

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