CFI Libraries Announce the Martin T. Orne Collection

January 2, 2015

The Center for Inquiry Libraries (CFI Libraries) have acquired the collection of materials of Dr. Martin T. Orne (1927-2000), the eminent professor of psychiatry and psychology. Included in the Martin T. Orne, MD, PhD Collection are books, dissertations, audio-visual materials, as well as legal case files and correspondence files relating to Dr. Orne’s work in hypnosis, memory distortion (false memories), and lie detection.

Dr. Orne, M.D. (Tufts University Medical School, 1955), and Ph.D. (Harvard, 1958) was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School for over thirty years (see his webpage at http://www.sas.upenn.edu/psych/history/orne/; photo is his portrait from this website). During his time there, he created the Unit for Experimental Psychiatry which made him a world-wide leader in various areas of psychiatry. His work in the areas of false memories and hypnosis helped establish guidelines that the US Supreme court (as well as many state-level supreme courts) use to restrict testimony acquired through the use of hypnosis.

Dr. Orne was involved with high-profile legal cases that involved different aspects of memory distortion. One of his more notable cases exposed Kenneth Bianchi as falsely claiming he had a multiple personality disorder under hypnosis (Bianchi was convicted in this case as one of the Hillside Stranglers. For a paper regarding this case see Orne, M.T. Dinges, D.F., & Orne, E.C. On the differential diagnosis of multiple personality in the forensic context. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 1984, 32, 118-169.  http://www.psych.upenn.edu/history/orne/orneetal1984ijceh118169.html)

Dr. Orne was also was an expert witness in the trial of Patty Hearst, the kidnapped heiress caught robbing a bank in 1976. He was convinced of her innocence in that she was coerced into the robbery by her kidnappers.

The CFI Libraries acquired about 250 boxes of materials plus library shelves from Emily Carota Orne early in 2012. The books, dissertations and other non-archival materials are now shelved in our Special Collections Room. The other materials are located adjacent to the Special Collections Room.

The depth of these materials is amazing; other collections of hypnosis materials exist (for example the Moll Collection at Vanderbilt University, and the Oskar Diethelm Library (History of Psychiatry) at Cornell), however these collections do not compare to the experimental and scholarly nature of the Orne collection.

Researchers can make arrangements to come and use the materials, please contact me directly in order to do so.

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