Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Hypnosis to retrieve memories

  1. Oct 22, 2006 #1

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Hypnosis is used to retrieve "lost memories" in cases of alleged [so called] alien abduction. In fact, I believe that this is how nearly all claims of abduction come to light. Typically, before the hypnosis session start, the person claims to have recurring dreams or other problems that led to therapy.

    In the popular media, this practice is blasted by critics as being unrealiable and completely useless. Now, I try to stay away from the alien abduction issue, but something in the news caught my ear.

    http://www.newsday.com/news/local/w...ct20,0,1735159.story?coll=ny-region-apnewyork

    It seems from this and other sources of late that hypnosis can be useful in retrieving lost memoriies. Apparently it is really a matter of technique and certainty, and not that the practice is absolute nonsense, as is usually suggested.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 23, 2006 #2

    SGT

    User Avatar

    The problem with hypnosis is that the subject is very vulnerable to suggestions by the therapist. A great many people that were hypnotised got false memories.
     
  4. Oct 23, 2006 #3

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    No doubt. However, that doesn't suggest that all therapists "lead" all patients.
     
  5. Oct 23, 2006 #4

    selfAdjoint

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed


    How can the experimenter or therapist determine whether a given statement by the subject was a real recovered memory or a false one from "leading" or from other irreducible uncertainties in the method?

    Recall the "Jung effect", described by the great psychologist in a footnote in the book he wrote together with the great physicist Wolfgang Pauli: investigators, no matter how determined to be objective, will make subconscious errors that preponderate in the direction of their biases.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2006
  6. Oct 23, 2006 #5

    SGT

    User Avatar

    From the Skeptic Dictionary
     
  7. Oct 23, 2006 #6

    LURCH

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    It seems to me that hypnosis is usefull as a desperation move to try to get some clues as to an event that a person cannot recall consciously.

    For example, if this person had remembered being in NYC, and had a specific recollection of eating at someplace called "Pete's Pizzaria", it would be a simple enough matter to look in the NYC Yellow pages and see if such a place exists. If it doesn't, the memory was false, if it does exist, go there and show the regulars a photo of the individual in question.

    I believe (and the general psychiatric community will back me up on this)
    that hypnosis is an unreliable means of retrieving lost memories. That's why it is normally only used in cases where the memories retrieved can be investigated and verified.
     
  8. Oct 24, 2006 #7

    Alkatran

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Using it to recover an identity would be more reliable, because once you have a target identity it's easy to check if it's correct. So even if the technique doesn't work, they won't be misled.
     
  9. Oct 25, 2006 #8

    SGT

    User Avatar

    I agree. The problem is that if it does not work, the hypnotist may be tempted to dig deeper and inadvertently implant a false memory.
    For instance, the subject may be conduced to think that he was abducted by aliens, who did him a brainwashing.
    For the therapist this has a double advantage: it explains the insuccess in recovering the identity and corroborates the effectiveness of hypnotism.
    For the woo-woos it is a new 'evidence' for aliens abduction.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Hypnosis to retrieve memories
  1. Memories (Replies: 2)

  2. Hypnosis Software? (Replies: 7)

  3. No memory (Replies: 27)

Loading...