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Hypnosis and the Iatrogenic Creation of Memory Description: Hypnosis and the Iatrogenic Creation of Memory: On the Need for a Per Se Exclusion of Testimony Based on Hypnotically Influenced Recall

Robert A. Karlin, Ph.D.

Rutgers University

 

Martin T. Orne, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania

 

Abstract

An overview of Karlin and Orne (1996) and related research shows why hypnotically influenced testimony is more unreli�able and misleading than testimony based on ordinary recall. McConkey and Sheehan�s (1995) report on a recent series of forensic hypnosis cases is then used to illustrate the need for a per se exclusion. Next, several points raised by Scheflin (1996) are discussed. First, as in Amytal interviews -- whose per se exclusion most scholars accept -- testimony influenced by hypnosis tends to be believable, vivid, and misleading. Second, Scheflin�s (1994, 1996) challenge to per se exclusion based on the case of an abused child is answered. Third, the time course of Ms. Borawick�s hypnotically influenced retrieval of putative abuse memories is examined. Fourth, consideration is given to the inherent incredibility of Ms. Borawick�s claims and the costs of debating the admissibility of such testimony on a case-by-case basis. Combining clinical hypnosis and psychotherapy will not result in objectively reliable memories, since each procedure encourages recall that may be subjectively impor�tant, but is often historically inaccurate. In the therapeutic context a lack of understanding of iatrogenic effects is hazard�ous, and hypnotically influenced testimony, with rare and easily specifiable exceptions, should be automatically excluded at trial.

 

Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 14, No. 2, 1997

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