Memories to the American Psychological Association, it’s

Memories retrieved through
hypnosis cannot justifiably be used to prosecute someone without other
evidence. Traumatic experiences from a person’s past are often repressed for
years, and even decades. Hypnosis is then used to allegedly retrieve these repressed
memories, inclining many people to prosecute others who caused the trauma
within these memories. However, whether these memories are accurate has created
controversy for decades, and still science has not been able to differentiate
between the two. Therefore, action has been undertaken within courts
prohibiting retrieved memories to be used as evidence, (when there was no sign
of prior memory) as they found the testimony to be unreliable and therefore
inadmissible. This is largely due to how influential, and impressionable
memories are.

The unreliability of the
retrieved memories is one of the main reasons they should not be used to
testify against someone in court. All experts agree that memories retrieved
under hypnosis are often contaminated mixtures of fantasy and truth; or even
outright ‘confabulations’ (the psychologists’ term for illusory memories). In
some cases, the memories retrieved may in fact be real, however, according to
the American Psychological Association, it’s impossible to distinguish
repressed memories from false ones without substantiating evidence. The uprise
in retrieved memories resulted in a challenging and controversial issue for
courts worldwide, when witness testimonies of recovered repressed memories
regarding alleged childhood sexual abuse, and violence arose. The statute of
limitations for child abuse in some jurisdictions, has been extended to
accommodate for repressed memories; while others have rejected false memories
as evidence, deeming it inadmissible due to lack of reliability. I believe that
in all courts across Australia, people should not be allowed to testify against
another person based purely on their recovered memories. However, evidence
gained from hypnosis should be admissible, when there is proof the witness can
recall the matter prior to the procedure, and thus the procedure is used to
attempt to gain more details. This proof could be in any form such as a video,
or recordings. Unless the reliability of the memories can be proven, they
should not be allowed to prosecute.

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Although all memory is
unreliable, and events can’t be recalled exactly the way they played out; they
all still have elements of truth, they aren’t fictional stories. Memories are
often interconnected with other people, and various forms of physical proof
such as pictures, records, security camera’s. Subsequently, they can be used to
build a case, and have the right to testify, as they are a necessary part of
the trial. Conversly, allowing trials for people to prosecute somebody, that
they only remember abusing them after hypnosis, is ludicrous and is not enough
to convince people beyond a reasonable doubt, due to the lack of solid,
physical evidence that will be able to support it. There’s no way of telling
whether they are fantasy mixed with truth or just confabulation. Therefore, in
a courtroom its not uncommon for the defence to use this against the
prosecution, and causes doubt within the jury’s mind about the legitimacy of
the memories and accusations. With doubt in the jury’s mind about the
reliability of the memory, the prosecution will not be able to convince a jury
‘beyond reasonable doubt’, without any prior memory or evidence; and the
defendant will be acquitted. The purpose of a prosecution is to prove the
defendant is guilty, therefore, if retrieved memories are unable to convince
the jurors of the defendant’s guilt, and can be used to prove the opposite, they
shouldn’t be used in testimonies. However, it is recognised that while some of
these memories are fictional, many are not and should be taken seriously. Due
to the inability to differentiate between the two, I believe the law
surrounding the ban on retrieved memory testimonies should be flexible;
allowing people to testify (even if they don’t have any evidence), as long as
they have some form of proof they had some form of these memories before
hypnosis. Whether that’s a video stating what’s remembered taken before the
hypnosis, and then a further video detailing the additional remembered details
afterwards, or simply a witness who knew about the crime/ abuse (such as a
neighbour, partner, child, parent etc.). However, those memories that only
aroused after hypnosis, with no evidence or witnesses shouldn’t be allowed to be
used in a prosecution, as they will only result in the same predictable outcome
with the defendant being acquitted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many people would argue that memories are memories,
regardless of whether they are retrieved or not. No memory can be played back
exactly, like a video, in turn that makes all memories somewhat unreliable.
People may state that if there is even the slightest chance the person is
telling the truth about being harassed or abused it should be put forward to
court, due to the severity of the offence. That it should be a matter of the
court, jury, and judge to decide whether or not the persons testimony is
reliable enough to be used as evidence and included in the trial; as opposed to
the court disregarding it altogether. As although these memories may be false;
they shouldn’t be disregarded right from the start, as they could equally be
true, and help protect others in the future from the defendant. Additionally,
it is often assumed that memories of violent or otherwise stressful events are
so well-encoded that they are largely indelible and that confidently retrieved
memories are likely to be accurate. 

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