Hypnotherapy and Recovered Memories
There are few things that make me feel more uncomfortable than the subject of recovered memories. I can remember, when in the 1990’s, there were a spate of complaints and issues relating to various therapists using things like hypnosis to help client to recover memories which were allegedly suppressed by the unconscious mind. These “memories” were often quite harrowing and caused great difficulties for both the recoverer as well as the families and friends of the client.
I was very pleased that we as a field moved away from the notion of attempting to access these “memories” and instead worked more in the here and now. However, I recently read an article about a person who makes great hay from his work with uncovering memories with hypnotherapy.
This person claims to do, amongst other things, forensic hypnosis. Forensic hypnosis is more of a US phenomena. It is where law enforcement uses hypnosis to refresh the memories of witnesses as well as sufferers of crimes to aid in investigation and conviction. This approach is by no means universally accepted and indeed, not every state in the US accepts testimony where this has been used. Memory is fragile and must not be toyed with, even when that is done by well meaning therapists. Hypnotherapy is a tool to help enhance memory, but it should not be used as a tool to recover memory.