Hypnosis, Coercive Persuasion, and the Law: A Historical Perspective

  • Jean-Roch Laurence
  • Campbell Perry


The current controversy surrounding the use of hypnosis for legal investigative purposes is paralleled by a similar debate during the last decades of the 19th century. Although the debate took place mainly in France, legislation was enacted in most European countries restricting the practice of hypnosis to professionally trained persons. In most countries, the legal restrictions were much more severe than are found in North America currently. The present paper reviews the main viewpoints, and presents several legal cases involving the use of hypnosis on two of the issues that preoccupied 19th century colleagues. These concern (a) the issue of hypnotic coercion and (b) the use of hypnosis to “refresh” the memories of crime victims. The relevance of 19th century thinking to the current North American situation is emphasized.


Legal Case Crime Victim Coercive Power Garter Snake Hypnotic Induction 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-Roch Laurence
    • 1
  • Campbell Perry
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology Department, H-531Concordia UniversityCanada

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