Forensic Hypnosis: A Tool of the Trade

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND CO.-It's a technique you might expect at a spa, not the local jail house, but for more than 20 years Sheriff Gary Painter says forensic hypnosis is a tool used to solve crimes.

"It's a very good tool," Captain Rory Mckinney, who took the course in Huntsville last month, said.  "There are a lot of things people see and don't remember."

McKinney is now one of three in the Midland County Sheriff's Office, licensed to perform investigative hypnosis.

"Hypnosis works, there is no doubt in my mind hypnosis works, but it only works if that individual will let it," Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter, said.

Painter says the technique is used to illicit information in a criminal case when witnesses or crime victims can't remember details of a crime due to shock.

"Homicides, robberies, rapes, anything where there has been a traumatic experience there is a chance there can be some evidence recovered or memory brought back that would assist in the investigation," Painter said.

Sheriff Painter says a landmark appeal case back in the 1980's outlined the guidelines used today. Sheriff Painter says since he became licensed back in 1987, he has gone through annual training.

"It was something that was coming along in the state of Texas that I want to be a part of," Sheriff Painter said.

He brought it to West Texas as yet another avenue to investigate.

Sheriff Painter once served as President of the Texas Association for Investigative Hypnotists, a non-profit organization dedicated to continuing education on the topic.

During a session, the investigator must record the process and know nothing about the case.

"You just talk to an individual and you just guide them through the hypnosis, you take them to a deep state of relaxation," Sheriff Painter said.