Information about Hypnosis
The American Medical Association's Council on Scientific Affairs issued a report on the use of hypnosis in 1984. No therapist or client should consider using hypnosis for any purpose without first reading the full report and studying the known risks of this technique. Here are some quotes from the report:
One of the known risks of hypnosis is the deliberate or inadvertent suggestion of information to the client by the hypnotist. Research studies have shown that even without the use of hypnosis, interviewers can suggest information to and cue desired responses from interviewees unintentionally and without either party being aware that suggestion has taken place. This unconscious "cueing" is believed to occur through body language, tone of voice, and other implicit means of communication. Consider this warning issued by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1997:
"Forceful or persuasive interviewing techniques are not acceptable in psychiatric practice. Doctors should be aware that patients are susceptible to subtle suggestions and reinforcements whether these communications are intended or unintended." -- "Reported Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse: Recommendations for Good Practice", Report of Royal College of Psychiatrists' Working Group on Reported Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse
When hypnotized, a person's succeptibility to suggestion (whether deliberate or inadvertent, conscious or unconscious) may increase. Individuals vary in their degree of response to hypnosis. Herbert Spiegel, M.D., studied suggestibility and hypnosis and classified 10 percent of the population as highly-hypnotizable "Grade Fives:"
"Spiegel also claims that Grade Fives exhibit 'readiness to trust; a relative suspension of critical judgment; an ease of affiliation with new experiences; a telescoped time sense; an easy acceptance of logical incongruities.' He thinks that they possess a capacity for intense concentration, 'overall tractability [and] role-confusion, [with] a subtle sense of inferiority.'" -- Victims of Memory, p.184
Such individuals probably have a greater-than-average risk of developing false memories of events which never occurred, particularly if hypnosis is used during psychotherapy, if the individual is not warned about the risk of suggestion, if informed consent is not obtained, or if the therapist assumes that problems in adult life are always rooted in childhood experiences. Research studies currently underway may shed light on the possible connection between suggestibility, hypnotizability, and the development of false memories.