Hypnosis as a way of facilitating repressed memories Hypnosis is a form of Recovered Memory Therapy that helps a person with memory relapse to recall information that they cannot remember. A person does not necessarily mean that someone is asleep. Therefore it is a state between being awake and asleep. Trances serve as an example of hypnotic functions. Though they serve similar purposes, trances need to be differentiated from hypnosis because they are done deliberately as used in clinical procedures to help people with memory loss or lapses to regain them.
The sympathetic nervous system controls arousals while the parasympathetic nervous system relaxation. These two systems do not function at the same time. When people are in the hypnotic state, they give up their consciousness and accept the inner truth (Richard, 1998). A person can undergo a deep trance where a person or the hypnotist facilitates the process or a lighter trance referred to as self hypnosis which individuals can create by themselves. This is where a person creates their own visual memory via meditation, listening to soft music or some other ways while maintaining a certain level of consciousness.
Negative hypnosis occurs when people are easily influenced by what others say and the things they are exposed to. If people are told that they are not able to do certain things and they believe in such comments, then there is a likely hood that they will not accomplish they thing they have been discouraged. This is what constitutes the negative hypnotic state. Therefore, hypnosis is about expectations. If a person has positive expectations, then they can achieve any thing that they set for themselves but if they are negative, they are more likely to fail at whatever they decide on.
Health care practitioners can therefore enhance the well being of their patients by assisting them in increasing their positive expectations. Hypnosis is important in helping sick with psychogenic amnesia or people who have lost their blocked certain memories as a result of traumatic experiences. It has been seen to work well for such patients. Research has shown some cases like child sexual as well as physical abuse can be forgotten. Likewise, evidence of recovery of the memories has also been shown (APA, 2001).
At first, when the memory is being got, it presents itself in bits and pieces therefore more sessions with the person have to be conducted so as to help in recovering the memory. Traumatic memories often present themselves in a different manner than ordinary experiences. This is because this form of extreme information can interfere with other brain functions. Studies have suggested that traumatic memories that have been recalled are just as accurate as the traumatic memories that have been forgotten.
Case study To examine whether hypnosis is an effective way of facilitating repressed memories, a study was conducted by Widom and Morris in 1998. The study included 23 adults; 12 females and 11 males who had been exposed to childhood abuse experiences and had repressed memory lapse in over 15 years. This group underwent hypnotic therapy for a period of three months (Widom & Morris, 1998). From the study, it was seen that the there is a difference in the way of recalling events between the women and the men.
The women were willing to share the little pieces of information that they could recall but the men were not. This influenced the hypnotic procedures because little memory was collected on most of the males as compared to the women. As the sessions progressed, there were slight improvements in memory and this can be attributed to the intense impact of the traumatic experiences on the victims as was seem from those who managed to get some of their memory back. At the end of the study period, 53% of the women and 42% of the men had recovered their memory and were satisfied that it as true.
A quarter of those studied who managed to get their memory back had rejected their results saying that they may be false while the remaining never really got their memory back but said that so far they were pleased with their lives and would not engage in any other tests. From the study, we can say that hypnosis does work and can help people regain the memory they have lost. As the process was underway, most of the patients had a positive change in their personality as they said that they were more engaged in community activities as they were encouraged by the test takers.
At the end of the study period, approximately half of the patients had got their memory back and this shows that if the procedures are done well and for a longer period, then people with previous traumatic incidents that need recovery can gain their memory back. About 25% of the individuals said that they usually kept to them selves and this can be a contributing factor as they do not trust the therapists to help them recover the memory. Various studies have also shown that events in a persons life influence their behavior as well as interpersonal relations with others.
From the above case, the unwillingness of some clients to share basic information limited the process. Some of those who refused said that as much as they wanted to get their memories back, said that it would probably affect them in a negative way. If they did, the numbers would have definitely increased. There is conflict between the in formation a person wants to know and what they would like to forget all together. Some people may remember too much too little and this may be good or bad depending on the context they are presented (Herman, 1995).
Nowadays, some people feel that there are not enough scientific research studies to back up the credibility of the various research memories. Others continue to say that one cannot completely tell whether the results got are true or of they are based on what the hypnotist has been telling them. Even when the patient who agrees that the memory that they got was false, their condition can be worse when they suffer Post traumatic Stress Disorder. Some fear the use of hypnotic procedures on children because it would affect them psychologically and this is not helping in improving their situation.
This kind of therapy confuses the mind as a person cannot tell the difference between what is real and imaginative and this has further contributed to the destruction of families (Rivera, 1993). In addition, they can deny certain memories because of guilt, the need to protect their families or may be reacting according to the stress levels they have been exposed to. The False Memory syndrome Association says that they have a lot of cases that are taken to court have shown that that some therapists are liars as they implant false memories on their patients (Thierry & Spence, 2004).
With the increase in such cases, some judges refuse getting evidence that has been recovered through hypnotic procedures. Such methods of treatment have therefore also not been fully accepted in science as well as psychology (Schacter, 1996). In 1997, according to the U. S bureau of Justice statistics report on a survey of female inmates in jail, it was found that 36% of them had been abused when they were young and one third of them has been raped they were imprisoned. And further 16 case studies on child abused individuals for comparison was undertaken and it showed that about 15% of them were abused as children.
This shows that as much as the experiences can be traumatic, not all of them are forgotten and if, they have been suppressed by the individual but they can be retrieved if proper therapy is used. Individuals can recollect a few things and these bits are necessary in the formation of the bigger picture. The few loopholes in research should not be a foundation for dismissing hypnosis in retrieving repressed memories. People have had serious accidents and this form of therapy has helped some who medication did not help in regaining their memories back.
Hypnosis therapy is a powerful mechanism as it enables people to regain memories that they thought they could never regain as well as achieve certain goals they have set for themselves. This power and acceptance of hypnosis as a form of therapy is due to the fact that it deals with capabilities which appear to be beyond normal activities (Hopper& van der Kolk, 2001). Moreover, it gives people power to discover their inner being and stop actions such as smoking, drinking and other forms if addictions.
Hypnosis also serves as a motivation for peoples engagement in physical activities and aids in reducing stress. This kind of therapy is helping in treating illnesses and certain disorders (De Vos & Louw, 2008). Hypnosis is also used as a form of therapy in children as a form of helping in changing their behavior and assisting in improving their health. In addition, hypnosis enhances personality enrichment by improving peoples self esteems, self confidence such that they get the courage to speak out in public when initially they could not.
Weight loss motivation, healthy eating and exercise, better sleep for people with seeing disorders, controlling anger, and controlling peoples fears among other things (Thierry & Spence, 2004). Reliability and Validity of Research The study was reliable because the results indicated the specific responses of the individuals and since the study sample was small, it was easier to monitor individual progress. This would not have been the case if it were a larger number.
Those individuals who were found out to have been sexually abused when they were young said that that was a possibility and most knew the individuals further proving that the results were reliable and valid. In addition, the individuals all showed up for the sessions as required therefore the lack of memory recovery could not be attributed to not attending the sessions. On top of these, no form of biasness was seen as the procedures were made as standard as possible and all variables that needed to be controlled were checked. Conclusion
Hypnosis therapy usage is acceptable in society has it has helped a lot of people in more than one way especially in facilitating repressed memories. After all, the main goal of the procedure is to assist in the well being of a person. These form of therapy needs to be supported in increasing its evidentiary weight such that these memories can be used as evidence in the courts of law. Clinicians as well as psychotherapists therefore need to be skilled in this area for them to be able to properly guide the procedure so that the clients can get true memories which are part o their whole being and without them they are not complete.
References American Psychological Association (APA) 2001. Understanding Child Sexual Abuse Rivera, Joseph. Trauma searches plant the seed of imagined misery, The Sacramento Bee, May 18, 1993. Herman, J. L. (1995). Crime and memory. Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 23, 5-17. H. M. De Vos and D. A. Louw (2008). Hypnosis-induced mental training programmes as a strategy to improve the self-concept of students Vol. 57, No. 2, Higher education journal 2008 Hopper, J. W. , & van der Kolk, B. A. (2001). Retrieving, Assessing, and Classifying Traumatic Memories.
Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, & Trauma, 4, 33-71; and Freyd, J. F. , & DePrince, A. P. (Editors). Trauma and Cognitive Science (pp. 33-71). Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press. Richard, S. C. July 1, (1998). The magic of hypnosis: is it childs play? The Journal of Psychology Schacter, Daniel L. (1996). Searching for Memory the brain, the mind, and the past. New York, Basic Books. Thierry, KL, Spence MJ (2004). Contemporary hypnosis Widom, C. S. & Morris, S. (1998). Adult recollections of childhood victimization: Childhood sexual abuse. Psychological Assessment, 8, 412-421.