Hypnosis Has Positive Implications on Memoryprint friendly version
September 6, 2009
The role of hypnosis on memory has been a topic of debate for decades. Studies have found both positive and negative results when testing hypnosis with memory. Many factors play a role when using hypnotherapy to enhance memories including a patient's suggestibility and the questions used by the hypnotherapist. When used correctly, hypnosis can enhance recall and hypnotherapy has several positive implications on memory.
Chandler (1993) points out one of the benefits of using hypnosis on the memory. Many people use hypnosis as a form of therapy, to help them overcome roadblocks and to help promote change at the subconscious level. Hypnosis is often used to change negative memory associations. Negative memory associations can include just about anything, but can have a major impact on people's well-being and can prevent them from reaching their goals.
Changing negative memory associations into positive associations can dramatically change a person's life. The result of using hypnosis is a healthier perspective on life. Changing a negative association with a memory can have a profound positive effect on people's life and causes a shift in perceptual predisposition.
Pettinati (1988) describes what occurs when using hypnosis to enhance recall. The induction and deepening are given to the participant; immediately following this, the participant becomes more suggestible. They are now able to access subconscious thoughts instead of just conscious thoughts.
The advantage to this method is that it helps the participant access the actual memory. This occurs due to lack of cognitive interference and increased ability to visualize. The disadvantage to this is that they can be more suggestible to cues by the hypnotist. This is where it is important that the hypnotherapist not put any inaccurate suggestions into the mind of the participant.
According to Reisen (1983), investigative hypnosis has become very popular in police science. The Federal and State courts have ruled that hypnotically enhanced recall of events is admissible. Delivered correctly, hypnosis is an accurate way to refresh past events in court and memory does not always become tainted by hypnosis. This helps investigators determine sequence of events with the help of eye-witnesses who would not normally have remembered exactly what they saw.
These three studies show that hypnosis, when used properly, can positively affect memories. Whether someone has negative memory associations or if they are recalling serious past events, hypnosis can help memory. This can have major implications on a person's well-being and on police investigations. More research should be done to see other ways in which hypnosis can impact memory.
By Steve G. Jones, M.Ed., citizen journalist
- Chandler, G.M. (1993). A hypnotic intervention for anger reduction and shifting perceptual predispositions. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 15(2), 200-205.
- Pettinati, H.M. (1988) Hypnosis and memory. New York: Guilford Press.
- Reisen, M. (1983). Investigative hypnosis: Scientism, memory tricks, and power plays. National Criminal Justice Research Service: NCJ 093422.