Of the almost infinite uses of Hypnosis a very interesting one is during investigations, the so called Forensic Hypnosis also known as Investigative Hypnosis. There are many myths about it but in reality, at least as I see it, is a very simple technique. Problems arise when the Hypnotherapist make it complicated.
The Ego of the Hypnotherapist must always be kept under control at all times, unless we are talking about a Stage Hypnotist. The goal of Hypnosis is to get a definite outcome or to provide a benefit to the client and not to show to the world how great the Hypnotherapist is. This is especially true with Forensic Hypnosis when the part of the Hypnotherapist must be kept at the bare minimum to avoid influencing the subject and invalidating his testimony. What is important is what the subject has seen or heard and definitely not to be cool.
Forensic Hypnosis Flaw 1
The subject hasn’t “registered” important facts and as good as the Hypnotherapist can be proofs cannot come out of nowhere. Our Mind is thought to register everything that happens to us and to store it forever. Sometimes this is true, sometimes it is not as some events leave a trace as deep as a line in the dust thrown away by the lightest wind. This is especially true if the subject is completely unaware of what’s going on. If there is no relevant information then nothing useful can come out from the Investigative Hypnosis session.
Forensic Hypnosis Flaw 2
The Hypnotherapist lets his Ego to enter the ring and puts, intentionally or not, into the mouth of the subject the information he wants to hear. This happened plenty of times in the past from Psychologists investigating children’s abuses which were in reality later discovered to be false memories created by the children to “please” the interviewer. When in a very receptive state, like being in a trance, the smallest information given to a subject knowing what is being searched can lead to the creation of stories aimed at pleasing the interviewer whether it’s a conscious decision or not.
Being able to participate in investigations and help Justice is great but the Ego must be kept strictly controlled otherwise even if the information received during an Investigative hypnosis session are correct they can be later invalidated if the words have been put into the subject’s mouth. The Hypnotherapist must not bait the subject nor influence his thoughts or words in any way. Forensic Hypnosis is definitely the case when the Hypnotist must be as invisible as possible and the only things that matter are proofs. Who was able to get them comes definitely later.
How Forensic Hypnosis Works
There are many courses and books around teaching how to perform Investigative Hypnosis and as always happens some are good and some are not. The goal of Forensic Hypnosis is to have the subject to remember as well as possible a specific moment in his or her life with all possible details coming from all five senses. To do this the Hypnotherapist has to relax the subject, get him back in time to the relevant event and ask him what he sees, hears, smells, etc. Nothing else. Actually the therapist has to listen to what the subject says and never the contrary as hard as it can be for the Ego. At least if what is to be found are relevant proofs useful during an investigation and not showing to the world how cool the Hypnotherapist is.
Sometimes there is nothing to be found because the subject hasn’t really registered something useful, many times Forensic Hypnosis founds hints and proofs. But after the Induction and having had the subject to go back in time the only things the Hypnotherapist must say are: “Tell me what you see”, “Tell me what you hear”, “What happened next”, “What you saw after that”, etc.
No influences, no baits, nothing; just questions keeping the subject on track and listening to answers. Investigation and Deduction are Detective’s work, the Hypnotherapist has only to help the subject to come out with information hopefully useful. Clearly the therapist part is fundamental to get proofs and no one would deny that but the practical part must be kept to the bare minimum; that’s what makes a great Forensic Hypnotherapist: Listening and not really Talking.
It’s neither a demonstration of ability nor a stage show.
What do you think of Forensic Hypnosis? Have you already heard about it? What’s your opinion?