I wrote about this a great deal earlier in the year and last year… Many states in the US have stopped giving any legal weight for the use of hypnosis in witness testimony and Canada has refuted it entirely.
I read this hypnosis article this morning which piqued my interest for two reasons. Firstly, it is highlighting a murder case where hypnosis is being considered as a way of providing evidence. Secondly, it shows very overtly the use of hypnosis in the retrieval of memories…
The article opens with this:
There is a potential witness to the murder of Christa Worthington in January 2002 at her isolated Truro bungalow — Worthington’s daughter, Ava, who was 2 years old when her mother died.
But how could Ava’s memory of this horrific incident, assuming she has any, be unlocked? Speaking for myself, the earliest memories begin around age 4, vague ones at that. A few earlier ones may kick around upstairs, but I can’t be sure if they are genuine, or fragments of dreams, or recollection of events I wish had occurred but actually didn’t.
There are some valid points here — the witness was 2 years old at the time. As such, any memory is coded through the eyes of a 2 year old.
I can remember being such a way when I was child that when I imagined hings, I often felt like I was really there, doing that thing — and the younger I was, the more difficult it is to understand reality.
When I spent some time in the Chippa Wa Cree nation, the shamanic people I satyed with had 5 distinctions for what we call the conscious mind. They refer to the ‘last born mind’ which is the part of us hat begins to have self-awareness… They believe that part of us does not exist until we are 1-3 years old… So how much awareness of the reality did the 2 year old have and how is hat going to affect the memory?
Ok, excue me having a quick swipe at the author here, because he says:
Supposedly, distant memories from toddlerhood and even infancy can resurface — through hypnosis. This is not something I’ve ever seen, nor have I been hypnotized.
No experience or real understanding, yet you are commenting upon it? He continues:
But I’ve read about it enough the years, of people recalling in exact detail the circumstances of birthday parties when they were toddlers, what everyone was wearing, the gifts that were given, the weather.
Not only have I read about it — I have done this many, many times with people and it happens — no ‘supposedly’ about it. Now this is what gets me spitting my green tea at the PC screen in the morning:
Consider also that some people refuse to be hypnotized, for fear of what will surface or be suggested while they are in a trance.
Ok, firstly — you don’t hypnotize people that don’t want to. Hypnosis is a viable tool with the consent of the individual only.
Secondly — it is a misnomer that you can possibly spontaneously combust to things that you are not looking for.
This is not something Ava, now of elementary school age, could decide for herself until she was at least a decade older. It would be for her guardians to consider, though I doubt they will.
We agree on one thing Jack.
But if I were in their shoes, I’d consider it at that point when the child in my guardian care was mature enough to understand the implications. And if the practitioner could assure me that my child would possess no conscious memory of being hypnotized.
What? You’d put them through that, let them therapeutically get rid of it, work it out, stop it from bubbling away in the deepest parts of my mind (especially when she may spend a lifetime suspecting she has something buried within her as result of all of this open media discussion!) and then want her to forget that she had even been hypnotized?
Maybe the author has seen too much sci-fi — you going to erase her memory of that entire day? Of all the discussions before hand? Of all the debate around the subject?
Another question comes to mind — what good can come of this, especially considering the risk of revisiting such trauma?
Well, she can process any bottled up memories and live a life of emotional freedom — as many psychiatrists, psychologists and hypnotherapists do in regression therapy!
Would any of it, assuming any could be summoned through hypnosis and recorded, be admissable in court?
Good question Jack. Now you’re thinking right. What use is this going to be in court? Especially when you look at the bigger picture, the possibilityof planting things which don’t exist too?
The rest of the article makes for some interesting reading about the case itself — it is just that this article made me very pensive and thoughtful his morning and it highlights many consistent debates we have in the hypnosis world…
… It also reminds me of how irritating it can be when people who know very little about hypnosis comment on its efficacy…
Will wipe the foam from my mouth and revert to my usual pleasant self again… 😉