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F. Hypnosis and Heightened Suggestibility
The reliability of answers obtained from a subject actually under the influence of hypnotism is
highly doubtful. His answers are often based upon the suggestions of the "questioner" and are
distorted or fabricated.
However, the subject's strong desire to escape the stress of the situation can create a state of mind
which is called Heightened Suggestibility. The "questioner" can take advantage of this state of mind
by creating a "hypnotic situation", as distinguished from hypnosis itself. This hypnotic situation can
be created by the "magic room" technique.
For example, the subject is given an hypnotic suggestion that his hand is growing warm. However,
his hand actually does become warm with the aid of a concealed diathermy machine. He may be
given the suggestion that a cigarette will taste bitter and he could be given a cigarette prepared to
have a slight but noticably bitter taste.
A psychologically immature subject, or one who has been regressed, could adopt a suggestion that
he has been hypnotised, which has rendered him incapable of resistance. This relieves him of the
feeling of responsibility for his actions and allows him to reveal information.
There is no drug which can force every subject to divulge all the information he has, but just as it is
possible to create a mistaken belief that a subject has been hypnotized using the "magic room"
technique, it is possible to create a mistaken belief that a subject has been drugged using the
Studies indicate that as high as 30 to 50 percent of individuals are placebo reactors. In this
technique the subject is given a placebo (a harmless sugar pill) and later is told he was given a truth
serum, which will make him want to talk and which will also prevent his lying. His desire to find an
excuse for compliance, which is his only avenue of escape from his depressing situation, may make
him want to believe that he has been drugged and that no one could blame him for telling his story
now. This provides him with a rationalization that he needs for cooperating.
The function of both the "placebo" technique and the "magic room" technique is to cause
capitulation by the subject, to cause him to shift from resistance to cooperation. Once this shift has
been accomplished, these techniques are no longer necessary and should not be used persistently to
facilitate the "questioning" that follows capitulation.
As I said at the beginning of our discussion of coercive techniques, the purpose of all coercive
techniques is to induce regression. How successful these techniques are in inducing regression
depends upon an accurate psychological assessment of the subject and a proper matching of method
to source. There are a few non-coercive techniques which can also be used to induce regression, but
to a lesser degree than can be obtained with coercive techniques. The effectiveness of these
techniques depends upon the "questioner's" control of the environment. For example: it is illegal
and against policy to use them to produce regression. Following is a list of these non-coercive
techniques which require great care because of their succeptibility to abuse: