Criminal Profiling and Hypnosis Using

What is criminal profiling? What are the procedures used in criminal profiling and how is the profile evaluated?

Criminal profiling is an investigative tool that is used to create a personality profile of a suspect based on the information found at the crime scene (Fulero & Wrightsman, 2008, p. 84). Several procedures are used in the criminal-profile-generating process, such as crime scene analysis, which is a comprehensive study of the forensic evidence and other information related to the murder and the suspect’s identity (Fulero & Wrightsman, 2008, p. 88).

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In the case of 2009 Annie Le murder, the victim’s bloody clothes were found in a high-security lab in Yale campus building which only a few people could enter, and according to security camera footage, the victim never left the building (Raymond John CLARK III, n.d.).

This information helped to narrow down criminal profiles to the lab personnel who had clearance to enter the lab. Other profiling procedures include an examination of the victim’s personality and relationships, a formulation of motivating factors, and the description of the offender’s personality and behavioral patterns (Fulero & Wrightsman, 2008, p. 89). The profile is evaluated by its ability to provide investigative suggestions based on the available information that can help find the suspect.

Who are the clients that forensic psychologists serve? Who are forensic psychologists responsible for when seeking to apply psychological knowledge to the criminal justice system?

Forensic psychologists are professionals who provide their professional expertise to the criminal justice system (Forensic Psychology, n.d., para. 1). Depending on the exact forensic setting a forensic psychologist is working in, their clients may be victims of the crime, potential offenders, defendants, prisoners, and other forensic personnel. Forensic psychologists are responsible for different populations based on the exact forensic setting they are working in. In general, forensic psychologists are responsible for those “who retain their services”, and “those with whom they interact” (Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology, 2012, p. 11).

For instance, a forensic psychologist who is performing the evaluation of a potential offender’s competency to stand trial is responsible for the defendant, since their evaluation will help clarify whether the defendant is capable of standing trial. If the defendant is not able to stand trial, a forensic psychologist’s responsibility is to provide a treatment plan and assess the likelihood the defendant will be able to participate in the proceedings after the treatment (Reid, n.d.). An example of such work is the work of a forensic psychologist who interviewed Ali Shukri Amin, who was charged with providing “material support” to ISIS (A teen’s turn to radicalism and the U.S. safety net failed to stop it, 2016).

How is hypnosis used in criminal investigations?

Hypnosis as an investigatory tool is used to recover repressed memories (Waxman, 1983, p. 480). In certain situations, conscious recall of events might be inhibited by stress or anxiety, or the fact that memories are too frightening or humiliating. Thus, hypnosis can be used in criminal investigations to assist eye-witness recall of events and help the police investigation. Martin Reiser was a forensic psychologist and law enforcement hypnotist who advocated for the use of hypnosis. Reiser argued that hypnosis could provide additional information and claimed that since he started applying it “16 percent of the cases were solved primarily because of hypnosis” (Vallance, 1982).

However, many experts, including Dr. Martin Orne, argued that the application of hypnosis results in false or inaccurate memories (Woo, 2000). The defendant of the Hillside Strangler case faked hypnosis to try to convince the court that he had multiple personalities, and Orne exposed him (Woo, 2000). The general consensus now is that hypnosis can taint the memories of those under hypnosis and it has not been used in court past the 2000s.

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There were many cases when hypnotically refreshed testimonies were held inadmissible, the latest one being R. V. Trochym (Patry, Stinson, & Smith, 2007). Trochym was convicted for murder on the basis of post-hypnotic evidence, but the Canadian Supreme Court ruled this evidence out as “inadequate” and the technique “scientifically unreliable” (Patry, Stinson, & Smith, 2007).


A teen’s turn to radicalism and the U.S. safety net that failed to stop it. (2016). Web.

Forensic Psychology. (n.d.). Web.

Fulero, S., & Wrightsman, L. (2008). Forensic Psychology. Boston, Massachusetts: Cengage Learning.

Patry, M., Stinson, V., & Smith, S. (2007). Supreme Court of Canada Addresses Admissibility of Posthypnosis Witness Evidence: R. v. Trochym (2007). Web.

Raymond John CLARK III. (n.d.). Web.

Reid, S. (n.d.). Roles of Forensic Psychologists. Web.

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Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology. (2012). Web.

Vallance, K. (1982). Police use of hypnosis — reliable tool or huge risk? Web.

Waxman, D. (1983). Use of Hypnosis in Criminology: Discussion Paper. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 76(6), 480-484. Web.

Woo, E. (2000). Dr. Martin Orne; Hypnosis Expert Detected Hillside Strangler Ruse. Web.

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