Doris Hammack hypnotherapy
On her own volition, Doris Hammack arranged to undergo hypnotherapy in an attempt to recover memories from her childhood, despite warnings from Detective Nelson and others that recovered‑memory techniques are controversial, and the results are not necessarily reliable.
She subsequently provided recordings and transcripts of those sessions to Detective Nelson and the YCSD.
The pre-hypnosis interview between the subject, Doris Hammack, and Dr. Sykas has been omitted for space. In summary, Doris stated she suffered from dreams and nightmares since childhood, most often producing images of fear and blood.
Beyond dreams, she carries a vague recollection of a male authority figure prior to her entry into the foster care system in Detroit. She cannot recall a face or name but believes this person to be a key figure in her life.
Dr. Sykas performed a series of tests that determined the subject's psychological state and her susceptibility to hypnosis, which registered high.
|Listen to an excerpt from the second session|
The hypnosis sessions transpired as follows.
- Dr. Sykas, hypnotist
- Doris Hammack
Session One: 6/1/98
Dr. Sykas: Doris, I want to review with you a bit about hypnosis. Essentially, it's a procedure that will make you totally relax. Once you're relaxed, you will be able to listen better, hear better, to focus. Upon hearing better, whatever I say to you or whatever you say to yourself will sink in more, and you will remember it when we are finished. This is simply a means of creating greater awareness. Since you will be more fully aware, you won't be asleep. You'll actually be in a super alert state, that is, in tune with your subconscious thoughts and memories while your body will be relaxed.
Doris Hammack: Okay.
Dr. Sykas: You can interrupt the session at any time. You can do anything in hypnosis that you can do out of it, only you're less distracted. You won't do anything that goes against your will. We will try to find those memories you have that will help answer your questions, but you will watch anything unpleasant as if it were in a movie. Nothing can harm you physically. You will be safe. Is all this clear?
Doris Hammack: Yes.
Dr. Sykas: Now, it's time to concentrate and relax. I'd like you to focus on the bright silver dot on the wall. Look at that dot and relax.
[Dr. Sykas then proceeded to elicit a deep hypnotic state. After 10 minutes, the subject was sufficiently relaxed. Pinprick tests verified the depth of the hypnotic trance, and interrogatory proceeded.]
Dr. Sykas: Doris, you are very relaxed now, very safe, ready to peruse the vault of memories. We're venturing into your subconscious where all of those old thoughts are hanging around. You probably haven't called on these memories in a long, long time. Don't be frightened or startled by what you run into. Remember that the memories you have forgotten and are attempting to rediscover cannot hurt you. They are only the records of events that have long since passed. You are safe here today. Trust your subconscious mind to tell the truth. Feel free to let it narrate and tell me what it is saying.
Doris Hammack: [FACE CONTORTS]
Dr. Sykas: Doris, I want you to imagine you are five years old, sitting in the audience of a movie theater. The large screen is in front of you. It is blank. It's warm and safe, comfortable here. You will see the things you recall on the movie screen in front of you as if you were watching a movie. It cannot hurt you. You can be free to capture the images with all your senses: sight, touch, sound, smell. Every sensation experienced is forever recorded and locked away inside your mind. Coerce these experiences. I want you to tell me anything you see, taste, smell, or feel of your childhood before you went to Immaculata. Now, Doris. What do you see and hear?
Doris Hammack: Fuzzy. A bottle. I see a bottle. It's a glass bottle. A beer bottle. Cars.
Dr. Sykas: Do you hear a car?
Doris Hammack: I hear a dog … somewhere further away. Below me.
Dr. Sykas: Where are you?
Doris Hammack: In a metal cage. No … I can stomp around and make it rattle. The sun is shining in. It's white and yellow. It's my place.
Dr. Sykas: Are you outside?
Doris Hammack: Yes. And high up. I'm on a building … beer bottle again. It's smashed.
Dr. Sykas: Can you see the dog?
Doris Hammack: I see the dog. He's running. … Down on the ground … he's running from the glass. … The dog is hurt.
Dr. Sykas: Did the dog get hit by a bottle?
Doris Hammack: It barked and lied down on the ground.
Dr. Sykas: Where does the glass come from?
Doris Hammack: From up high. The bottle comes down.
Dr. Sykas: Did you drop the bottle?
Doris Hammack: No.
Dr. Sykas: Is there someone there?
Doris Hammack: [WINCES]
Dr. Sykas: Doris, can you see if anyone is throwing the bottle?
Doris Hammack: And there's music…
Dr. Sykas: What kind of music do you hear?
Doris Hammack: Country music … it's playing in the back … in the background. … I like it out there alone.
Dr. Sykas: Are you alone?
Doris Hammack: I'm outside, high up. A fire escape.
Dr. Sykas: Can you tell who is listening to the music?
Doris Hammack: [WHIMPERS] Oh, I knew it…
Dr. Sykas: Everything's okay, Doris. Just relax. You're safe here today. You're just seeing a portion of your past on the movie screen. Can you describe who's there?
Doris Hammack: [SIGHS] Oh, it's him. The man.
Dr. Sykas: Is this the male authority figure we discussed earlier?
Doris Hammack: Yes. Yes, it's him. He is the one throwing bottles. He smells … like sick. Like he's sick. He is not clean.
Dr. Sykas: Can you tell me anything else about this person?
Doris Hammack: [PAUSE] He's loud. … He's shouting, angry.
Dr. Sykas: Do you know this man, Doris?
Doris Hammack: Yes.
Dr. Sykas: What is his name?
Doris Hammack: He's— he's Howard. [WHIMPERS]
Dr. Sykas: Doris, do you feel okay? Do you want to continue?
Doris Hammack: [TREMBLES] Yes.
Dr. Sykas: Who is Howard, Doris?
Doris Hammack: He's— I think he's— he says he's my father. I don't know.
Dr. Sykas: Has he spoken to you?
Doris Hammack: He speaks…
Dr. Sykas: Can you understand what he's saying?
Doris Hammack: Dog…
Dr. Sykas: Is he talking about the dog?
Doris Hammack: No. I see the dog. … I can look down and see it. It's very still.
Dr. Sykas: Does the dog belong to you?
Doris Hammack: I don't know. … I— I don't want the dog. He's far away. … He's talking to someone. And yelling.
Dr. Sykas: The man, Howard, is yelling?
Doris Hammack: Yes. [TREMBLES] He yells. I know his yell. I remember it now. He always yells.
Dr. Sykas: Is he yelling at you?
Doris Hammack: He always yells.
Dr. Sykas: Is he angry at you for something?
Doris Hammack: He's telling someone else. … He's moving about wildly and clapping his hands. Oh. … He breaks the bottle and grabs somebody.
Dr. Sykas: Do you know who he's grabbing?
Doris Hammack: A man. Another man. They're kind of laughing. Oh no, he sees me! He wants to throw me in! [WHIMPERS] I think he might come outside and throw me at the dog! I'm crying. No, hush! Hush! He gets me when I cry! … He gets me. Do you know what happens to kids who cry?
Dr. Sykas: What happens to kids who cry?
Doris Hammack: The water, they go in. He puts them in. [CRYING]
Doris Hammack: [EYES WIDEN] Can we take a break?
Dr. Sykas: Certainly. We'll stop this session and try again later. I want you to just relax and take this time to go over what you've recalled. You can wait in the next room, have a Coke, collect yourself.
NOTE: Doris decided she was too tired to continue this day. The second hypnosis session was held the next day. Dr. Sykas took the subject into a deeper state of hypnosis and worked with Doris on age regression back to the time of her first dreams.