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No. 40: Jul-Aug 1985

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Hypnotic Misrecall

Hypnosis is occasionally employed to help witnesses remember forgotten events in criminal and civil investigations. Scientists have long questioned whether hypnosis really improved recall. After a two-year study of hypnosis experiments, a panel of the American Medical Association has issued recommendations that hypnosis be limited to the investigative stages of the judicial process. This conclusion is based on studies that show that hypnosis may increase the amount of information recalled, but that it also introduces errors. The ability of subjects to recall poems learned years earlier was enhanced by hypnosis. Unfortunately, the subjects also fabricated forgotten sections of the poems in the styles of the poets. Conclusion: Hypnosis should be used only where information recalled can be checked for accuracy.

(Anonymous; "Hypnotic Misrecall," Scientific American, 252:73, June 1985.)

From Science Frontiers #40, JUL-AUG 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss