Hypnotised abductees; Seeing truth or building confabulations? by Paul Novak
POSTED: 27 January 2001
Hypnosis has become a most popular tool in the field of abduction research. The understanding of its intents and abilities by the general public though are still widely relegated to the earliest erroneous notions of its being a trancelike state with suggestability and retrieval of repressed memories being the most noteable of these traits. Research into the validity of hypnosis and its traits has been done for 200 years yet the only truly revealing research has taken place in the last 30 or so odd years. Research which has shown a much different facet of its nature.
This new research has shown hypnosis to be susceptable to so many personality traits and individual character tendencies that its use is in truth little more than a hit or miss affair with much of its resulting data to be of a purely fictional or erroneous nature. The predetermined personality traits of a given subject contribute greatly to the nature of the results obtained to put it in basic terms. An individuals predisposition to suggestability and fantasy and the strength of their self awareness and ego are but a few of the determining factors when the ability of hypnosis to obtain reliable results is considerd. Despite all the questionable and unclear abilities attributed to hypnosis those in the abduction field use it almost religiously as a "fact" finding tool. They happily cite results from such applications as "evidence" in their research and proceed to implement its results in their conclusions with no addressing of its well known faults and dubious abilities. On the one hand hypnosis has been shown in some instances to actually have some limited ability to bring to the surface currently "repressed" memories. However, highly avoided is the fact that it has been shown on a much greater scale to be capable of actually FABRICATING memories which in truth were not present to begin with. Not to mention the highly dubious reality of "repressed" memory itself.
Still, again and again hypnosis is used and cited as supporting evidence and the general public has little if any real understanding of its capabilities and veracity with which to help form its opinion of these claims. The truth is that a great many people just outright assume hypnosis to be a valid tool. Still more all to willingly accept its use without question and base their belief in these fantastical claims almost exclusively upon its results in absence of cooborating data. Results which themselves are not truly worthy of credence due to the above mentioned flaws inherent within it.
Its use has been criticized on many fronts by skeptics with few if any redeeming points raised in its behalf. The usual counterarguement is one of an acceptance of its use due to a lack of other usefull means by which to analyse these persons and their claims. A weak and insubstantial arguement in my opinion. Hypnosis has been linked to many different phenomena and seems to always turn up something usefull for those looking for results. Whether it is past life regression, alien abduction, or spirit contacts it always produces "interesting" results. I can't really say that I am a qualified hypnosis expert but I have done more than a cursory amount of study into its origins and useage. Based on my observations of these items and its use I cannot help but feel the whole premise of hypnosis to be questionable and to use it in abduction research is in my opinion an attempt to lend validity and credibility to the claims in question rather than as a tool to obtain usefull information. No matter what area of inquiry it is applied to it always seems to raise more questions that veer away from the original intent thereby clouding the issue further.
When applied to the question of alien abduction invariably the subject will recall a myriad of strange experiences which we are led to believe were so repressed as to have been previously hidden to the subjects themselves. Now I understand the concept of repressed memory and the ideas behind using hypnosis to uncover them but there remains an underlying question of whether or not there were any repressed memories in the first place. It is quite true that through simple suggestion a susceptable individual can be led to concoct erroneous memories without even realising this has been done. It is also true that repressed memory itself has so many detracting flaws refuting the theories validity that in itself it is too questionable an item to seriously allow into credible consideration of the problem of alleged alien abduction.
It is known from many tests and research that a leading of the subjects towards a particular conclusion is possible and does indeed take place in many instances. It is also well known to those who study the field of hypnotherapy that confabulation of nonexistent memories also takes place on an alarming scale. This alone casts a cloud of suspicion upon the use of hypnosis as a reliable tool for dissemination of these persons claims. The Travis Walton abduction case is a fine example of this. Despite the total failure to pass polygraphs in the initial investigation the application of hypnosis strangely managed to support his claims. The psychologists charged with handling the sudy of his claims seemed to have set out to "prove" his claim using hypnosis and in fact did do this to a certain degree. Despite the earlier tests by polygraph disproving his claims. So which is correct? A dubious tool at best such as hypnosis or a tool considerd reasonably accurate by most law enforcement officials such as polygraph testing?
Many will argue that polygraph testing is not admissable as evidence in court and this would be true. However it is consistently used in law enforcement and other such avenues of official and credible investigation requiring a source of reliable information to assist in the determination of witness or subject veracity. It's results rely on physically measureable deviances in a persons bodily responses to stress applied through questioning. A much more solid foundation than that of hypnosis which is based in the woefully little understood nuances and complexeties of the human mind I feel.
It is also true that hypnosis is not allowed in court. The reasons for this are quite telling. Its use was precluded as a result of the fact being made clear that it is not at all reliable or trustwothy in uncovering previously hidden memories and in fact aids greatly in fabricating false ones. This is glaringly obvious in the repressed memory "witch hunts" of the 80's where innocent individuals were prosecuted based on testimony derived by "victims" who had undergone hypnosis and were actually in some cases were led to believe they actually were abused by those who in reality they were falsely accusing.
The reality of the matter from my point of view is that hypnosis is really nothing more than a crutch used by abduction advocates to attempt to lend credibilty and believability to their claims. It looks good on paper and the uninformed take it as truth based on the erroneous preconcieved notions of its abilities mentioned earlier. Without it they are relegated to little more than anectdotal testimony as their sole basis for support of their claims. And myself as a skeptical individual find this to be nothing new or different and in fact quite representative of the usual predictable nature of ufology and the many credulous individuals within it.
Persinger MA. Neuropsychological profiles of adults who report "suddenremembering" of early childhood memories: implications for claims of sex abuseand alien visitation/abduction experiences. Perceptual & Motor Skills.75(1):259-66, 1992 Aug.
Lynn and Rhue's "Theories of Hypnosis"
The Man Who Tasted Shapes: A Bizarre Medical Mystery Offers Revolutionary Insights into Reasoning, Emotions, and Consciousness," Richard E. Cytowic, MD, Jeremy Tarcher/Putnam Publishing 1993, ISBN 0-87477-738-0:
The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Elizabeth Loftus, Katherine Ketcham