A crime-fighting tool often kept under the radar, forensic hypnosis refers to the application of hypnosis in civil and criminal investigations to enhance the recall of pertinent details among victims and witnesses.
When law enforcement officials need victims or witnesses to relay information from a crime scene, their memories are not always as helpful as they would like them to be. Stress, fear and trauma can affect the normal functioning of our memory in a number of ways.
In some cases, the traumatic event in itself can be partially or entirely repressed from the conscious memory. In other cases, while memories of the traumatic event remain intact, post-traumatic stress disorder can lead to subsequent troubles in the person’s capacity to focus, process, comprehend and retain information following the trauma.
In helping crime victims and witnesses recover their memories, forensic hypnosis provides law enforcement with vital information and leads allowing them to bring resolution to their unsolved cases.
The use of forensic hypnosis in criminal justice and law enforcement dates back to 1845. First used to solve a burglary case, it has since been used in a number of high-profile cases, including the criminal prosecutions of Ted Bundy, Dr. Sam Sheppard, the Boston Strangler, New York City’s Mad Bomber and the Scott Peterson case.
While Courts are divided over the admissibility of hypnotically elicited testimony, forensic hypnosis can be an important element in the preparation and outcome of a trial. Its use has been upheld by the US Supreme Court. In states where hypnosis is not admissible in court, forensic hypnosis, when conducted properly, can still produce vital information, leads and credible testimony to be pursued and verified independently.