Posted by: les | 2008/05/27


My son is suspected of urinating over the walls and floors of the hostel toilets (this has happened 4 times), he is 12 in grade 6. Because he offered to clean the mess (the last time) so the kids could all go back out to play he was questioned quite aggresively by a teacher and after denying it was him about 4 times he then said it was him "to make her stop shouting at him".
The counciller at the hostel is very kind and said to me he needs to see a phsycologist because there is obviously a problem. My child swears it wasn't him, and I believe him. I know when he is lying and when I questioned him I watched him very carefully and he swore he was telling the truth. I want to take him to a hypnotist to get the bottom of this. I have spoken to friends where he has slept over and he has always behaved normally. I am afraid this will have a lasting impact.

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Our expert says:
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I suppose it might have happened the way your boy tells it --- rather than being the perpetrator, he may indeed have volunteered so as to spare the others. But it wouldn't do any harm for him to see a psychologist / counsellor to check this out. But DO NOT TAKE HIM TO A HYPNOTIST. Beyond any possible scientific doubt, hypnosis does NOT, EVER, discover the truth about anything, and is never admitted in any court of law for that reason. It may at most encourage someone to speak more, but what you hear is very likely indeed to be a mixture of truth, fantasy, and bits of stories he's heard or TV he's watched. That's the last thing you want. A properly trained child psychologist could assess him far more expertly, and clarify the situation far better. But don't make it seem like any sort of punishment that he's going to see someone.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Responsible psychologist | 2008/05/29

Dear Les

As a parent, I think you are in such a difficult situation, and I feel sorry for you and your son.

CS and HS are right (although for different reasons), however, that clinical hypnosis mignt not be the most effective way to determine what had happened, as clinical hypnosis cannot be used as a "truth serum".

CS is not entirely correct however, when he states that hypnosis is never admitted in a court of law - it is when the strict conditions have been met.

Clinical hypnosis can be used effectively, to help your son deal with what had happened.

Let a psychologist who specializes with children (by the way, there isn't a category such as "child psychologist") and who specializes in psycho-legal assessments (in case you need to take legal action) help your child.

I hope you manage to resolve this.

Reply to Responsible psychologist
Posted by: HomoeoPsych | 2008/05/29

Hi Les

I really do wish that CS would get his facts straight regarding hypnosis, instead of disseminating inaccurate nonsense that is based more on his personal antipathy towards hypnosis & anything hypnotherapeutic, than what it is on actual fact. The reality is that information obtained under hypnosis IS admissible in most court jurisdictions, including in South Africa. There is, however, a stringent protocol that has to be followed in this regard to ensure that information obtained is not contaminated.

Where I do agree with him, is that hypnosis is unlikely to be of much help in this specific situation. There is a common misperception that hypnosis is some form of a sleep-state, where the hypnotist takes control of the person & can then make them do anything the hypnotist wishes them to, including "telling the truth". This perception is derived from the stage shows that are actually an elaborate con - most of the people on stage are not in hypnosis at all, even though they might believe that they are, and are actually play-acting.

The reality is that hypnosis is, in fact, a state of enhanced awareness that is very similar to a meditative state, rather than a state of reduced awareness in which you are "under the control" of the hypnotist. Because of the enhanced state of awareness, combined with a state of deep relaxation, information that cannot always readily be accessed out of trance can sometimes emerge. In this way, hypnosis has, for example, assisted in remembering information such as license plate numbers. This is, however, not the case here. Because your son would be very much aware of what he is saying under hypnosis, he would simply repeat what he has already told you & this would not prove anything one way or another.

As a parent myself, I feel that you have to give your child the benefit of the doubt, especially after your description of your conversation with him in this regard. His description of what happened seems quite plausible to me & I feel you ought to believe him, until proven otherwise. CS's suggestion of an assessment by a psychologist specializing in work with children seems appropriate, not so much to try to determine what actually happened, although it might help in this regard, but more to deal with any trauma that he might have suffered. Hypnosis might well be very helpful in this regard.

Go well

Reply to HomoeoPsych
Posted by: Carla | 2008/05/27

You are in a difficult position. You can choose to believe your son or not to. If you do not believe him and he is in fact speaking the truth, he will find it difficult to trust you and to confide in you in future and it may ruin your future relationship. You sound quite sure that he is telling you the truth. You know your son the best. I suggest you believe him (for now). Sit him down and have a serious chat. Tell him that you trust him to tell youthe truth and that you know that he will not do anything like that. However, explain to him that actions (even protecting others) have consequences, and that he must carry the responsibility for his actions. Tell him that you will let him off the hook, but he has to tell you who the guilty person is, and then break off his friendship with that person, and he has to stay out of situations like that in future. However, if he then gets accused of that again, then you will have to take more serious steps. Good luck!

Reply to Carla

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