Over the past couple of weeks, a number of media articles have been showing hypnosis and self-hypnosis have found their way into several high profile criminal investigations… Some of those references beggar belief!
Let me explain…
OK, so first up, in this article in the Daily Herald, they cite the murder case against a Christopher Neal Jeppson. The prosecutor (Raskin) spent a large part of the trial determining whether polygraph results should be admissable and whether Jeppson’s should be allowed to be used at all. Want to know why? The prosecutor referred to a previous case involving someone called Hoffman. The article states the following:
Raskin said Hofmann was able to pass the test because he had used self-hypnosis for years and practiced the technique on questions involving the bombings. Raskin did note, however, that the polygraphs are not 100 percent accurate.
“The error rate is somewhere between five and 10 percent,” he said.
Hmmm… of course, self-hypnosis is a valuable tool which can enable people to recreate states at will and take control of physiological responses. Interesting stuff, eh?
The second case of interest, although there are others with seemingly irrelevent mentions of hypnosis, was featured in the UK’s very own Guardian in this article.
It mentions that the cases of two men jailed last November for the murder of a prostitute have been referred to the Court of Appeal.
The case against the men rested on one man’s confession, which he had retracted, evidence of a prison informer, Ian Massey, and that of two prostitutes, Leanne Vilday and Angela Psalia. And this is where hypnosis is mentioned…
On June 15, 1988, before any arrests, Ms Vilday was interviewed under hypnosis by Dr Una Maguire, a psychologist and consultant to the police. The Guardian has seen this interview. Ms Vilday tells how she came to discover Ms White’s death. ‘I looked through the letter-box to call her.’ At no stage does she describe being involved in the murder.
Later, however, Dr Maguire stated that “given the tragic circumstances,” Ms Vilday could have ‘blocked out’ all memory of the murder. Ms Vilday has since said she was not genuinely under hypnosis.
With hypnosis being so utterly difficult to prove in this capacity and because of it’s very subjective nature, it is gradually being seen as less and less useful as eye witness testimony and is nlonger admissable in many parts of the world.
I’ll be interested to see how this case develops… Hypnosis invovled with murder cases… Happier topics tomorrow 🙂