extreme professional handling. This author recommends that hypnosis sessions absolutely either be recorded or detailed transcriptions are maintained. This author can share a little about personal experience of hypnosis and its positive outcomes in therapy. For discussion today, one must outline the measures to know that false memories are not being implanted and tactics to avoid that. Clues to identification of false memories exist and will be discussed.
One only needs to know a little bit about me to recognize that I spend a lot of my daily time in altered states of consciousness and hypnotic-like states. It's not that my reality isn't pleasant- I have built myself a great everyday life. Part of me is more concerned to habitate in my inner-mind more often than the physical world. I can say this with certainty due to my behaviors to get me out of my physical world. My behaviors that get me into my brain or elsewhere and away from the physical world include writing, being artsy, dancing, sleeping, meditating, day dreaming, lucid dreaming, driving on auto-pilot (habituation), walking on auto-pilot, re-living conversations and making them even funnier in my mind editing, and if were not so expensive, hypnosis. While my altered states of consciousness is usually driven by myself, in hypnosis another party is usually in the driver's seat. There are issues of trust and risk to this, including the consequence of false memory implantation if not following a strict protocol that I observed from personal experience.
I first learned that I was highly suggestible to hypnosis while an undergraduate student. We had had a magician/ hypnotist come to an event and very easily I became an audience member “put under.” Fast forward to a few years ago, summer 2007 when I was struggling with a work presentation and I used this little fact to my advantage. I needed to know a work presentation that was an eight-page document and for the life of me, could not memorize it under my time constraints to execute its delivery. In great panic, I researched and found an OSU professors of Psychology and Hypnotist. In a series of about 4 hypnosis sessions, I was hypnotized to help my memory into learning my presentation-all eight pages.
In speaking a little about from my experience and to the idea of implanting false memories, it could very easily happen. Under hypnosis, the client is in a very vulnerable state and open to suggestion. A Hypnotist must work very hard not to suggest or implant any ideas foreign to the patient.
During hypnosis, a client may find blockages and verify them with the Hypnotist. For example, during some of my hypnosis, I had blockages to the actual hypnosis sessions resembling many things like a free-association exercise. I had had a grandmother, a dog, a baby, and the presence of a yellow energy burst all stymieing the effectiveness of my treatment. The Hypnotist and I had to free these entities from myself in order to get onto the hypnosis. Should that Hypnotist not be so well trained, he or she could have implanted their ideas or entities as to who or what is a blockage to the work at hand.
Furthermore, I learned from the professional protocol of the Hypnotist I saw what techniques to employ so as not to implant false memories and suggestions. First, the hypnotist must never know anything about the incoming client. One may need to even assume an alias. This is especially true in small towns. It's almost like making an appointment with a fortune-teller. They too don't want to know the client before-hand. Very minimal interaction other than the goal of the hypnosis session must be in place so as not to bias the professional to the potential of human error by presuming things about the patient and placing a projection onto the patient.
Also, a Hypnotist that's not very careful in presumptive questions could implant a false memory. A lot of times, behind a question is an implicit expectation. It could be like this: “ Mary, being that you are working full-time and a mother of two, it makes sense that you were stressed out frequently?” As one can infer from this example, the Hypnotist's question may infer to Mary that she perhaps should assume that she is stressed instead of allowing her own synopsis of how she's feeling. Being that she's presumably “under” in this hypnotherapy session, the Hypnotist may have very innocently though ignorantly just hypnotized Mary to being stressed when she may not, in fact, be all that stressed given what's on her plate.
Likewise for the discussion at hand, children seek and want to perform for the positive reinforcement of adults. Hypnotists and adults involved with the court not only can implant expectations, but by also creating a court prosecution conducive to “leading the witness” for the intended outcome of the defendant/prosecutor is extremely relevant in questiong tactics/techniques. In fact, it's known in other court cases, such as a domestic assault case, that prosecution has been known to create questions that dehumanize the victim/survivor in jury cases to sway juror's perceptions. ( Personal Communication, Audited class on Women's Studies, OSU Winter quarter 2006). (Belknap and Dee, 2000)
To ward off any chances of false memory implantation of suggestions, Hypnotists must be vigilant in monitoring their communication and intent in sessions. A tool that could be used would be either a video recorder or audio recorder. Much training would be needed to relieve the Hypnotist of asking leading questions. This is true of counselor-techniques too. ( Personal Communication, Dr. Linda Hall, Interpersonal Sensitivity classes, IUP summer 2002). Counselors and psychologists will spend many class sessions perfecting techniques accordingly. (Conte, 2009). Should also, there ever be a need to look back at hypnosis sessions, the Hypnotist would have the video or sound recording sessions archived to know if they unknowingly implanted a suggestion or expectation tangential to goals during hypnosis.
In the event that one's curious, not only did my hypnosis “cure” me to memorize my 8-page presentation for work, but I also was hypnotized to no longer have road rage, and to fall asleep the moment my head hits the pillow. Yes, hypnosis can be a magically, beautiful thing in the proper hands.
Belknap., J., and Dee., G., (2000) Factors Related to Domestic Violence Court Dispositions in a Large Urban Area: The Role of Victim/Witness Reluctance and Other Variables, Final Report (Available from U.S. Department of Justice)
Conte., Christian., (2009). Advanced Techniques for Counseling and Psychotherapy. New York, New York: Springer Publishing Co.