Investigative Hypnosis: Is It Effective or Completely Bogus?

Way back in the 1970’s when I was a college student studying criminal justice I participated in a student practicum at the local sheriff’s office. Most of my “work” consisted of going through stacks of crime reports and calling back theft victims to reassure them that even though the sheriff’s office had not yet been able to figure out who stole their property and the likelihood of them ever getting their stolen property back was minimal, the sheriff’s office was “still on the case.” It was more of a public relations effort to make people feel that the sheriff’s office had not forgotten about their case and was concerned that they had been a crime victim.

To my surprise, most people appreciated the follow-up. They understood that the sheriff’s office was doing what they could and in a few cases the victims provided new suspect information that could aid in the investigation. Some told me they understood there was little the sheriff’s office could do and suggested that the sheriff’s office discontinue investigating their case and concentrate on more serious crimes. Others told me that they had already figured out who stole their stuff and had recovered it 監聽器 themselves. Excellent – case closed!

On one occasion a detective asked me if I would like to assist him in a Hypnotism Session. He explained that there had been a “grab-and-run” theft at a jewelry store and an elderly lady saw the thief run from the store and get into a waiting get-a-way car. This lady could not remember much about the get-a-way car and the detective was hoping that under hypnosis she could provide a good description of the car and maybe even a license plate. This sounded much more exciting than calling and propitiating theft victims, so I jumped at the opportunity.

The hypnosis session occurred in a small quiet room at the sheriff’s office. I have no clue as to the training this detective had at the time, but since investigative hypnosis was in its infancy in those days, I suspect it was minimal. The lady sat in a big comfortable office chair and the detective sat in a smaller chair in front of her. The detective dimmed the lights and spoke to her in a soft tone and directed her attention to the incident. His words got slower and softer and it appeared as if he was trying to get her to totally relax. At one point he asked her to close her eyes and continue listening to him. It was surreal – almost right out of the movies!

I sat in the back of the room with a pen and pad in hand. My job was to write down anything pertinent the lady might say. After about 10 minutes of soothing words, the lady was able to recall the color of the thief’s get-a-way car (bright red) and gave a general description of a sedan. Surprisingly, she was able to slowly and deliberately “recall” the license number. I dutifully jotted it down.

After the session was over, the detective asked me what I thought. I said I didn’t know, but silently I thought she was faking it… but you never know. It turns out that two other credible witnesses described the thief’s car as blue, so it was likely not red. Also, the license plate information turned out to belong to a truck that had been crushed in a junk yard years before. The hypnosis session was certainly interesting, but it produced NO credible leads. In fact, it produced FALSE leads.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.