An Examination of the Effects of Forensic Hypnosis

  • Howard William Timm


This study examined the efficacy of using memory assistance procedures to increase eyewitness recall as well as the impact of incorporating formal hypnotic induction suggestions into those techniques. The subjects consisted of 56 volunteers that were each victims of a squirt gun shooting incident. The number of “I don’t know” responses made by those subjects when they were questioned about that incident significantly decreased after the memory assistance procedures were employed. Contrary to the results of prior forensic hypnosis studies, both the hypnotized and non-hypnotized subjects had higher levels of certainty associated with their correct responses than with their incorrect answers. Overall, the results indicated that the addition of formal hypnotic induction techniques to standard guided memory assistance procedures offers neither substantial advantages nor disadvantages with respect to the amount of information secured from witnesses.


Certainty Level Police Investigator Hypnotic Susceptibility Mock Crime Certainty Rating 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Griffin, G. R., 1980, Hypnosis: Towards a logical approach in using hypnosis in law enforcement agencies, J.Pol.Sci.Admin., 8:385–389.Google Scholar
  2. Hilgard, E. R., and Loftus, E. G., 1979, Effective interrogation of the eyewitness, Int. J. clin. exp. Hypnosis, 27:342–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Kroger, W. S., and Douce, R. G., 1979, Hypnosis in criminal investigation, Int. J. clin. exp. Hypnosis, 27:358–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Loftus, E. F., 1979, “Eyewitness Testimony,” Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 54–78.Google Scholar
  5. Malpass, R. S., and Devine, P. G., 1981, Guided memory in eyewitness identification, J. appl. Psychol., 66:343–350(a).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Orne, M. T., 1959, The nature of hypnosis: Artifact and essence, J. abnorm. soc. Psychol., 58:277–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Orne, M. T., 1962, Antisocial behavior and hypnosis: Problems of control and validation in empirical studies, in: “Hypnosis: Current Problems,” G.H. Estabrooks, (ed.), Harper & Row, New York.Google Scholar
  8. Orne, M. T., 1979, The use and misuse of hypnosis in court, Int. J. clin. exp. Hypnosis, 27:311–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Putnam, W. H., 1979, Hypnosis and distortions in eyewitness memory, Int. J. clin. exp. Hypnosis., 27:437–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Reiser, M., and Nielson, M., 1980, Investigative hypnosis: A developing speciality, Amer. J. clin. Hypnosis, 23:75–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Schafer, D. W., and Rubio, R., 1978, Hypnosis to aid the recall of witnesses, Int. J. clin. exp. Hypnosis, 26:81–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Shor, R. E., and Orne, E. C., 1962, “Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility Manual, Form A,” Consulting Psychologist Press, Palo Alto, Ca.Google Scholar
  13. Smith, S. M., 1979, Remembering in and out of context: Human learning and memory, J. exp. Psychol., 5:460–471.Google Scholar
  14. Timm, H. W., 1981, The effects of forensic hypnosis techniques of eyewitness recall and recognition, J.Pol.Sci.Admin., 9:188–194.Google Scholar
  15. Weitzenhoffer, A. M., 1957, “General Techniques of Hypnotism,” Grune and Stratton, New York.Google Scholar
  16. Zelig, M., and Beidleman, W. B., 1981, The investigative use of hypnosis: A word of caution, Int. J. clin. exp. Hypnosis, 29:401–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Howard William Timm
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for the Study of Crime, Delinquency, and CorrectionsSouthern Illinois University at CarbondaleUSA

Personalised recommendations