Posted by: Skippy | 2007/04/27

Polygraph or Hypnosis

Which of the two are more reliable, a polygraph or hypnosis? I have heard of lots of people failing polygraphs while innocent, so, how reliable is hypnosis when done by a psychologist?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

I assume you are asking about the reliability of these methods in trying to elicit evidence in a court case or criminal investigation ? Because a polygraph is not used in treating people. The first point is that NEITHER are reliable enough to be accepted as evidence in many jurisdictions, but a polygraph is the more reliable and polygraph evidence is listened to in some courts of law. The problem is that NOTHING measures truthfulness. A polygraph picks up your degree of arousal and nervousness only --- so a very nervous innocent could look guilty, and a brazen liar could look innocent. Hypnosis is actually of very limited use, and evidence elicited by hypnosis is rightly not admitted in Court --- it produces MORE "memories" or recollections, but a mixture of true, distorted and totally false "memories", with nothing to distinguish one from the other. And the process renders the person extremely suggestiable to picking up even faint cues from the interogator / interviewer as to what HE expects their answer to be. There is no substitute for good detective work, and for a very skilled interviewer, skilled at eliciting information without, deliberately or accidentally, pushing HIS expectations into what the person being interviewed is saying.

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Our users say:
Posted by: HomoeoPsych | 2007/05/07

Hi Skippy

The largest part of CS's response is entirely accurate. However, his pathological aversion to all things hypnotherapeutic once again shines through! A a number of statements he made regarding forensic hypnosis are entirely untrue & must be corrected.

CS is quite correct when he states that hypnosis is entirely unsuited for use in your situation. Hypnosis is an enhanced state of awareness, in which memory sometimes & under certain circumstances can be enhanced. It is NOT a sleep state where the patient is under the control of the hypnotist, who can then determine whether something actually happened, or not.

Because you are normally (with very few exceptions) completely aware of what is happening to you in hypnosis, it is quite possible to lie under hypnosis. In fact, with hypnosis being an exceptionally creative state, you can lie far more creatively & convincingly under hypnosis than out of trance!

Consequently, I'm afraid that hypnosis cannot help you in your dilemma, as one can cannot use hypnosis to disprove the findings of a polygraph

Where CS is entirely wrong however, is his statement that "evidence elicited by hypnosis is rightly not admitted in Court". Evidence elicited under hypnosis IS admissable in Court in SA (and in most jurisdictions in the USA) under two conditions:

Firstly, a very strict protocol - designed to limit the possibility of suggestion by the therapist or confabulation by the subject - must be followed in the elicitation of memory recall under hypnosis.

Secondly. any information elicitated under hypnosis must be corroborated by other evidence. Evidence obtained under hypnosis wil generally not be accepted as "stand-alone" evidence.

In such cases, hypnosis is utilized to accessed repressed or blocked memory, with the intention of providing more information to the investigators. Hypnosis can never be used to determine whether something actually happened, or to prove that it did not.

In your specific case, I would like to recommend that you speak to a really good labour lawyer. As far as I am aware, the labour relations act does NOT make provision for an employee to be compelled to be subjected to a polygraph test (or to hypnosis) to attempt to ascertain if they are possibly guilty of an offence! I suspect that you have been unfairly treated & that the results of any such investigation are inadmissable & therefore irrelevant.

And also begin to look for another job - do you really want to work for an organozation such as this?

Go well

Reply to HomoeoPsych
Posted by: Skippy | 2007/04/27

Thanks cybershrink, that makes sense to me. Unfortunately im in a situation at the moment where im accused of something, and i failed the polygraph test. I have no doubt in my mind that i am innocent, but i got so nervous with the polygraph test that i started shaking and almost threw up. I am a paranoid person by nature, but i did nothing wrong! How can i prove my innocence?

Reply to Skippy

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