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Comments on the Draft Home Office Guidelines

NCJ Number
121890
Author(s)
M T Orne
Date Published
January 1988
Length
8 pages
Annotation
These comments by an American psychiatrist on the British Home Office draft guidelines for the use of witnesses who have undergone hypnosis to enhance recall includes a review of the legal and medical positions on this issue in the United States.
Abstract
Both courts and the medical community in the United States have taken positions against the accuracy of facts recalled under hypnosis. Research substantiates that although witnesses' confidence in their recall may increase under hypnosis and the number of facts recalled may increase, the accuracy of the facts is questionable. Some courts permit witnesses who have been hypnotized to testify on matters recalled prior to hypnosis, providing there is evidence to document that such evidence was given prior to hypnosis. The British draft guidelines do not prohibit the testimony of a witness who has been hypnotized, but require a videotape of all hypnosis sessions. This comment on the guidelines poses problems that must be addressed before the reliability of such evidence can be assessed. Given the significant problems posed, the analysis recommends that the use of hypnosis for memory enhancement should never be permitted with persons who may later be asked to testify in court. 9 references.

Date Created: December 30, 1988