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New directions in forensic hypnosis: facilitating memory with a focused mediation technique

Wheatcroft, Jacqueline M. and Brunas-Wagstaff, Joana and Cole, Jon and Wagstaff, Graham (2004) New directions in forensic hypnosis: facilitating memory with a focused mediation technique. Contemporary hypnosis, 21 (1). pp. 14-27. ISSN 1557-0711

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Abstract

In the late 1970s and early 1980s considerable publicity was given to the use of hypnosis as a technique to facilitate witness' memory in police investigations. As empirical evidence mounted, however, a number of limitations and disadvantages emerged with regard to the use of hypnosis in this role. As a consequence, hypnosis as an aid in forensic investigations is now treated with considerable caution and scepticism by many authorities, including the police. However, the present paper re-examines some of the procedures employed in hypnotic interviewing that might still be useful in the development of brief memory facilitation procedures. In particular, a brief focused breathing meditation (FM) technique is described that uses elements common to hypnotic induction, but divorced from the context label of hypnosis. An experiment is described using this technique to aid face identification. As in other recent studies conducted by the authors, this procedure showed a memory facilitation effect, though without the increase in false positive errors familiar to more traditional hypnosis techniques; indeed, the trends were for FM to produce fewer false positive errors. Implications are discussed.

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