The effect of Hypnosis on Flashbulb memories

What is a Flashbulb Memory? 

In class, we learned about Flashbulb Memories, which is a vivid memory of an event or experience that one has gone through during their lifetime, that has stuck with them, emotionally. Flashbulb memories are not memories that you think about everyday, these memories can have trigger points.

What is Hypnosis?

My other key point is the term, Hypnosis. This term refers to a person loosing their own voluntary control, you are under someone else’s control. Usually hypnosis is used to find suppressed memories, but also alter the state of mind in regard to those memories.

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My Flashbulb Memory

One example of a Flashbulb memory to me is 9/11. This was probably the most traumatic experience for me because it involved my mom. I remember this so vividly and it is quite weird because I was so young. I remember I was sitting on my Mimi’s (grandmother’s) lap in her living room watching the news after New York City was hit with a terrorist attack. Then there was news that D.C was hit as well and my mom’s office building was incredibly close to the Pentagon and my mimi could not get ahold of her. I remember bits and pieces after that, but I remember that anxiety and worry when I think about it. Trigger points for this certain example include, September 11th, every year, thinking about terrorism, and thinking about my mom’s old office building. It is crazy how one word can come up that is remotely related to this and I feel that pain again.

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After understand what flashbulb memories were and what hypnosis was, I wanted to focus on the both of these terms and see what Hypnosis does to flashbulb memories. To help me understand the effects of hypnosis on flashbulb memories, I decided to find a study from before and after hypnosis.


A certain study that I want to discuss is Princess Diana’s death. Basically, three days after her death, there was a survey taken from certain people in regard to how they felt about the situation. Then there was another survey taken 10-12 weeks later, with the same feelings and emotions, with this trigger. After completing the second portion to this survey, some participants were hypnotized to be less sensitive to the subject. After hypnosis, these individuals were given the same questions and the results were insane since some had no emotion towards the passing of Princess Diana

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This study proves that Hypnosis cannot take away the memory, or the importance of the memory, but it can ease the pain to where you do not feel that heartache anymore, or whatever pain you were feeling in the first place. Instead of this memory being a flashbulb memory, it would just be an event that happened throughout your lifetime.


After seeing the results from this study, I can conclude that Hypnosis will not erase your memory, it will just ease the pain that one is feeling. A lot of the time, Hypnosis is used to find repressed memories during therapy. If one is too lose their keys, yes, being hypnotized will help you find them, but it can never erase the memory from your mind. These people above will forever be affected by this certain experience, but some will not mind the subject as much since they were hypnotized to let go of that scarred feeling.

Hypnosis and Flashbulb memories can work very well together, especially if you have patients suffering from PTSD, but remember, your memories can never be erased with this procedure!



2 thoughts on “The effect of Hypnosis on Flashbulb memories

  1. adill98

    I found this very interesting. I too have flashbulb memory of 9/11 as many of us do I imagine but mine involved my grandfather who was working very close to the pentagon as well. I find hypnosis very interesting and I’m not sure I 100% understand/ agree with it. But I think it is very cool how the study found that it could ease the pain one is feeling.

  2. carmennichols

    This is a really interesting subject. I remember reviewing flashbulb memories and I thought they were kind of crazy, I feel like there’s so many of them. 9/11 is one of those memories that I think a lot of people remember even if they were really young. Or even the death of a celebrity, somehow we’re able to remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when we heard about it. I didn’t know that much about hypnosis or how it could be related to flashbulb memories or any traumatic memory. The results of the study are crazy, how hypnosis can help relieve the pain of a memory but still keep the memory alive. It’d not like it’s trying to make you forget about it, just to make you less sensitive to it. I actually think that’s really cool. If there wasn’t such a stigma around hypnosis, I think lot more people would try it, especially if it has results. Thanks for sharing!

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