Repressed Memory Versus False Memory - The False Memory Syndrome Foundation, Studies On False Memories, Trauma And Dissociation, Betrayal Trauma Theory
believe abuse sexual davis
In the early 1900s Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud first proposed the theory of repression, which hypothesizes that the mind can reject unpleasant ideas, desires, and memories by banishing them into the unconscious. Some clinicians believe that memory repression explains why a victim of a traumatic experience, such as
childhood sexual abuse, may forget the horrible incident. Some also believe that forgotten traumatic experiences can be recovered later.
In 1988 Ellen Bass and Laura Davis wrote The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1988). It has been described as the "bible" of the recovered-memory movement. The authors claimed that Freud was right about his theory that
the physical symptoms of hysteria in his patients were indicative of childhood sexual abuse. They listed such symptoms as feeling powerless and having trouble feeling motivated as signs that a person had experienced childhood sexual abuse.
Proponents of recovered-memory therapy are convinced their patients cannot heal until they confront their memories. Some clinical therapists believe that memories rediscovered through hypnosis and other recovery techniques are true and that they must be acknowledged in order for treatment to be successful. Some have been known
to recommend that patients cut off all ties with their families to speed up recovery.
Some memory researchers do not agree, saying that children who have suffered serious psychological trauma do not repress the memory; rather, they can never forget it. They cite the examples of survivors of concentration camps or children who have witnessed the murder of a parent who never forget. These researchers believe that
memory is inaccurate and that it can be manipulated to "remember" events that never happened. Many mental health professionals warn the public about believing persons who have no training in mental health. For example, they note that authors Bass and Davis were not licensed therapists. Bass was a creative writing teacher, and Davis was a student in one of her writing workshops.
In the early 1990s many adult patients (mostly women) who sought the help of psychotherapists for emotional problems were told that they may have been sexually abused as children and had no memory of the abuse. Through recovered memory therapy (hypnosis, dream interpretations, joining survivor groups, etc.), women were
encouraged to remember the abuse so that they could get rid of their emotional …
Psychologist Elizabeth F. Loftus, a leading opponent of the recovered-memory movement, claims that repression is not normal memory and that it is empirically unproven. She does not believe that the mind could block out experiences of recurrent traumas, with the person unaware of them, and then recover them years later (The
Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse, N…
Some psychologists believe sexual abuse can be so psychologically traumatic that the victim dissociates from full awareness of the horrible experience. In other words, dissociation is the mind's defense mechanism against the trauma. Other scientists disagree, however. For example, Daniel L. Schacter (Searching for Memory: The
Brain, the Mind, and the Past, New York, NY: Basic Books, 1996) q…
Psychologist and professor Jennifer J. Freyd proposed the betrayal trauma theory to explain how children who had experienced abuse may process that betrayal of trust by mentally blocking information about it (Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997). Freyd
explained that people typically respond to betrayal by distancing themselves fr…
Between 1986 and 1998 Catherine Cameron conducted a long-term study of child sexual abuse survivors (Resolving Childhood Trauma, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 2000). The researcher interviewed seventy-two women, ages twenty-five to sixty-four, during a twelve-year period. The women comprised a group of sexual
abuse survivors who sought therapy for the first time in the 1980s. On aver…
While some repressed memory experts such as Lenore Terr, a clinical professor of psychiatry, dismiss all laboratory experiments on memory as invalid, others have tried to prove scientifically that memories can be forgotten. Linda Meyer Williams, of the Family Research Laboratory of the University of New Hampshire in Durham,
studied the recall of women who had been abused in childhood, for whom the…
Michelle A. Epstein and Bette L. Bottoms investigated the temporary forgetting of past abuse and trauma to determine victims' own explanations for their forgetting experiences ("Explaining the Forgetting and Recovery of Abuse and Trauma Memories: Possible Mechanisms," Child Maltreatment, vol. 7, no. 3, August 2002). The
researchers observed that many studies of forgetting expe…
According to the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF), between 1983 and 1998 many individuals who had "recovered" memories of childhood sexual abuse sued their alleged abusers, many at the instigation of their therapists. During those years a total of 589 lawsuits based on repressed memory were filed, of which 506 were
civil and 83 were criminal. Following a sharp rise in 1992, th…
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