Wednesday, November 30, 2011

SECRETS OF MEMORY: Part V Implanted false memories and narcoanalysis

Memory implantation refers to an individual creating a false memory in the mind of another person by means of suggestions or questions containing suggestions about the imagined event.  Repeated suggestions make the individual believe that what is suggested is true.

Suggestion and hypnosis
Suggestion is the psychological process by which one person guides the thoughts, feelings, or behaviour of another. Nineteenth century psychologists such as William James used the words "suggest" and "suggestion" in senses close to those they have in common speech. Early scientific studies of hypnosis by Clark Leonard Hull and others extended the meaning of these words in a special and technical sense.
Modern scientific study of hypnosis separates two essential factors: trance and suggestion. The state of mind induced by the process of hypnotic induction—essentially instructing and suggesting to the subject that they will enter a state of sleep—is called hypnosis. Once a subject enters hypnosis, the hypnotist gives suggestions that can produce the effects sought for 
Waking suggestion
Suggestions, however, can also have an effect in the absence of hypnosis. These so-called "waking suggestions" are given in precisely the same way as suggestions given within hypnosis and can produce strong changes in perceptual experience. Experiments on suggestion, in the absence of hypnosis, were conducted by researchers such as Nicholas Spanos and Irving Kirsch. They found that waking suggestions are as effective as hypnotic suggestion in some individuals. Without knowing the psychological basis of the effect of suggestion Adolf Hitler's Propaganda Minister in Nazi Germany Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels used the technique of “waking suggestion”. The infamous words if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth” is attributed to him.
Memory implantation in criminal investigation
Memory implantations in eyewitnesses to a crime are a possibility, particularly for young eyewitnesses. Because of their suggestibility, children are the most vulnerable to memory implantation when they are eyewitnesses to a crime. Laboratory researches have established that pre-school aged  children are more vulnerable to suggestion as compared with older children.
Is it also possible to implant false memories in the mind of a suspect in a crime? If suspect is confused, tired, and fearful he/she is vulnerable for implantation of false memories. Once the person is identified as a suspect, the next step of interrogation is undertaken with the purpose of obtaining a confession. The methods used can be highly confrontational and accusatory. Repeated suggestions that the suspect committed the crime are a routine part of the interrogation procedure. It is not uncommon for the interrogator to claim he or she has evidence of the suspect’s involvement in the crirme and knowledge of the suspect’s past. It is theoretically possible that an innocent suspect may not only make a false confession, but also come to believe or internalize his or her guilt in committing the crime. Psychologists Saul M. Kassin and Gisli H. Gudjonsson have brought out examples of such internalized false confessions. 

Memory implantation before narcoanalysis test
Narcoanalysis Test refers to the practice of administering barbiturates or certain other chemical substances, most often Pentothal Sodium, to lower a subject's inhibitions, in the hope that the subject will more freely share information and feelings. A person is able to lie by using his imagination. In the narcoanalysis test, the subject's inhibitions are lowered by interfering with his nervous system at the molecular level. In this state, it becomes difficult though not impossible for him to tell lies. In such sleep-like state efforts are made to obtain "probative truth" about the crime. Experts inject a subject with hypnotics like Sodium Pentothal or Sodium Amytal under the controlled circumstances of the laboratory. The dose is dependent on the person's sex, age, health and physical condition. The subject who is put in a state of Hypnotism is not in a position to speak up on his own but can answer specific but simple questions after giving some suggestions. The subject is not in a position to speak up on his own but can answer specific but simple questions. The answers are believed to be spontaneous as a semi-conscious person is unable to manipulate the answers. The implantation of false memory actually occurs during the interrogation before the actual procedure of the narcoanalysis test.

No narcoanalysis without consent
The Supreme Court of India in May 2010 declared the use of narcoanalysis test without the consent of the individual illegal.

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