|Repressed Memory Debate
DID/Trauma/Memory Reference List
Repressed Memory Debate
American Psychological Association (1994). Interim report of the APA working group on investigation of memories of childhood abuse.
Points of agreement: Child sexual abuse is a complex and pervasive problem. Most people remember all or most of what happened to them. It is possible for memories of abuse to have been forgotten for a long time to be remembered and similarly it is possible to construct pseudomemories for events that never occurred. Mechanisms for both are not well understood. Memories for events and the actual event may not be isomorphic.
Baars, BJ, & McGovern, K (1995). Steps toward healing: False memory and traumagenic amnesia may coexist in vulnerable populations. Consciousness and Cognition, 4(1), 68- 74.
Beahrs, JO, Cannell, JJ, & Gutheil, TG (1996). Delayed traumatic recall in adults: A synthesis with legal, clinical, and forensic recommendations. Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law, 24, 45-55.
Berliner, L, Williams, LM. (1994). Memories of child sexual abuse: A response to Lindsay and Read. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 8, 379-387.
Bernet, W. (1997). Case Study: Allegations of abuse created in a single interview. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 36(7), 966-970.
Single case study of a 5-year-old child induced to "recall" abuse by parents in an audiotaped session with her babysitter, who was coercive, leading, and suggestive.
Bremner, D. & Marmar, C. (Eds.). (1995). Trauma, memory and dissociation. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.
Brewin, CR. (1996). Scientific status of recovered memories. British Journal of Psychiatry, 169, 131-134.
Evidence exists for both accuracy and inaccuracy of both remembered and recovered memories. Some review of the literature.
Brewin, CR, Andrews, B, & Gotlib, IH. (1993). Psychopathology and early experience: A reappraisal of retrospective reports. Psychological Bulletin, 113(1), 82-98.
Three sources of errors are documented: (1) claims that reliability and validity of autobiographical memory is low in general; (2) claims that there is general memory impairment associated with psychpathology; and (3) claims that there are specific mood congruent memory biases associated with psychopathology. Claims regarding the general unreliability of retrospective reports are exaggerated and there is little reason to link psychiatric status to less reliable and valid recall. However, steps should also be taken to overcome limitations of retrospective reports and to enhance reliability.
British Psychological Association. (1996). Recovered memories: The report of the working party of the BPA. In K. Pexdek & WF Banks (Eds.). The recovered memory/false memory debate, pp. 373-392. San Diego: Academic Press.
Memory may be recovered within or independent of therapy. Recovery is reported by highly experienced and well-qualified therapists who are well aware of the dangers of inappropriate suggestion and interpretation. There is no reliable evidence that the creation of false memories by therapists is a widespread phenomenon. There is evidence for incorrect memories, but less evidence for the creation of false memories.
Brown, D. (1995). Pseudomemories: The standard of science and the standard of care in trauma treatment. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 37, 1-24.
Three kinds of suggestibility are identified: hypnotizability, post-event misinformation suggestibility, and interrogatory suggestibility. A better standard of science is needed before claims can be made about PM production in therapy, since no experimental studies have been conducted on memory performance or suggestibility effects in therapy.
Christianson, SA (1984). The relationship between induced emotional arousal and amnesia. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 25, 147-160.
Christianson, SA (1992). Emotional stress and eyewitness testimony. Psychological Bulletin, 112(2), 284-309.
Emotional memories, in comparison to memory for normal events, are more detailed, accurate, and not prone to error.
Chu, JA, & Dill, DL. (1990). Dissociative symptoms in relation to childhood physical and sexual abuse. American Journal of Psychiatry, 147, 887-892.
Chu, JA, Matthews, JA, Frey, LM, & Ganzel, B. (1996). The nature of traumatic memories of childhood abuse. Dissociation, 9(1), 2-17.
Cohen, J. (1985). Trauma and repression. Psycholanalytic Inquiry, 5, 163-189.
Says the concept of neurotic repression does not fit the phenomenology of the dynamics of psychic trauma. He proposed that "primal repression" is the precursor to repression proper and is the essence of the traumatic state, characterized by loss of effective functioning, diffuse aggression, severe anxiety, inability to sleep or dream, and physiological disturbances. Proposes the "hole" metaphor and state that in trauma biological survival needs and "wants" become inextricably linked with overwhelming affects.
Courtois, CA. (1995). Scientist-practitioners and the delayed memory controversy: Scientific standards and the need for collaboration. The Counseling Psychologist, 23, 261-277.
Frankel, FH. (1994). Adult reconstruction of childhood events in the multiple personality literature. American Journal of Psychiatry, 150, 954-958.
Freyd, JJ. (1994). Betrayal trauma: Traumatic amnesia as an adaptive response to childhood abuse. Ethics and Behavior, 4, 307-329.
Freyd, JJ. (1996). Betrayal trauma: The logic of forgetting abuse. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Friedman, S. (1997). On the "true-false" memory syndrome: The problem of clinical evidence. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 51(1), 102-122.
Faced with a lack of external confirmatory data and basing their judgements on sometimes dubious evidence, psychoanalytic clinicians are faced with a need to establish criteria on which to base decisions regarding historic truth, however lacking in certainty. This report endeavors to establish some standards that may enable analysts to decide between historic and psychic reality.
Gleaves, DH (1996). The evidence for "repression": An examination of Holmes and implications for the recovered memory controvery. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 5(1), 1-19.
Gold, SN, & Brown, L. (1997). Therapeutic responses to delayed recall: Beyond recovered memory. Psychotherapy, 34(2), 182-191.
Heated controversy has arisen over the advisability of making recovery of tramatic memories a central intervention strategy in psychotherapy for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. This article addresses why such an approach can be deleterious, discusses alternatives to memory-focused treatment, and presents core strategies for facilitating self-management of intrusive recall in order to promote client autonomy and empowerment.
Good, MI. (1994). The reconstruction of early childhood trauma: fantasy, reality, & verification. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 42(1), 79-101.
Holmes, DS. (1990). Evidence for repression: An examination of 60 years of research. In JL Singer (Ed). Repression and dissociation: Implication for personality theory, psychopathology, and health, 85-102. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hovdestad, WE, & Kristinasen, CM. (1996). A field study of "false memory syndrome": Construct validity and incidence. Journal of Psychiatry and Law, 24(2), 299-338.
Hudson, JI, & Pope, HG (1995). Can memories of childhood abuse be repressed? Psychological Medicine, 25, 121-126.
Koss, MP, Tromp, S, & Tharan, M. (1995). Traumatic memories: Empirical foundations, forensic and clinical implications. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 2(2), 111-131.
Kris, E. (1956). The recovery of childhood memories in psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 11, 54-88.
Laub, D., & Auerhan, N.C. (1993). Knowing and Not Knowing Massive Psychic Trauma: Forms of Traumatic Memory. International Journal of Psycho-analysis, 74, 287-302.
Lindsay, DS, & Read, JD. (1994). Psychotherapy and memories of childhood sexual abuse. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 8, 281-338.
Lindsay, DS, & Read, JD. (1995). 'Memory work' and recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse: Scientific evidence and public, professional, and personal issues. Psychology, Public Policy, and the Law, 1, 846-908.
Loftus, EF. (1997) Creating false memories. Scientific American, 70-75.
Loftus, EF, & Ketchum, K. (1994). The myth of repressed memory: False memories and allegations of sexual abuse. New York: St. Martin's.
Loftus, EF, Garry, M, & Feldman, J. (1994). Forgetting sexual trauma: What does it mean when 38% forget? Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62 , 1177-1181.
Discusses possibilities other than repression in William's study of 129 women: forgetting, conscious avoidance, shame, etc. However, does go on to say..."The findings do support the claim that many children can forget about a sexually abusive experience from their past. Extreme claims such as "if you were raped, you'd remember" are disproven by these findings." (p. 1177).
Martinez-Taboas, A. (1996). Recovered memory: Some clinical data contributing towards its elucidation. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 50(2), 217-230.
Presents 2 cases of female patients with DID. Recovered memory in both were verified and analyzed to support credibility of delayed recall.
Nash, MR (1994). Memory distortion and sexual trauma: The problem of false negatives and false positives. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 42, 346-362.
Parks, ED, & Balon, R. (1995). Autobiographical memory for childhood events: Patterns of recall in psychiatric patients with a history of alleged trauma. Psychiatry, 58 (3), 199- 208.
Findings suggest that patients with an alleged history of trauma have a measurably different pathway of recall for early events than the patient and nonpatient comparison groups.
Person, E, & Klar, H. (1994). Establishing trauma: The difficulty distinguishing between memories and fantasies. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 42, 1055-1081.
Phelps, A, Frielander, ML, & Enns, CZ. (1997). Psychotherapy process variables associated with the retrieval of memories of child sexual abuse: A qualitative study. Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology, 44(3), 321-332.
The literature provides little information about the actual experience of clients in therapy and the factors related to the retrieval of partially or completely forgotten memories of child sexual abuse. Review of the literature on treatment of CSA survivors revealed 7 factors of the relationship that appear important:
(1) Therapeutic relationship of safety and trust; (2) client control of as much of the process as possible; (3) emotional availability of the therapist; (4) therapist assistance in management of emotional intensity of memories; (5) therapist willingness to help the client deal with dissociated aspects of self; (6) therapist validation of client's experience and willingness to explore traumatic material; and (7) therapist openness to the possibility that abuse occurred but avoids suggestive therapeutic techniques. 11 subjects, self-identified as CSA. Individuals with continuous memory were not included in the study. Confirmed the above factors.
Pope, HG, & Hudson, JI. (1995). Can individuals 'repress' memories of childhood sexual abuse? An examination of the evidence. Psychiatric Annals, 25, 715-719.
Review 4 articles (less than 20% of the pertinent literature) on repressed memory. All articles showed amnesia in the studies population, but methodology was criticized by the authors. They cautiously say that proponents of the "repressed memory" thesis had failed to meet their burden of proof. (See Scheflin and Brown, 1996 for a rebuttal).
Pope, KS. (1996). Memory, abuse, and science: Questioning claims about the False memory epidemic. American Psychologist, 51,(9), 957-974.
Pope, KS, & Brown, LS. (1996). Recovered memories of abuse: Assessement, therapy, forensics. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Reviere, S. (1996). Memory of childhood trauma: A clinician's guide to the literature. New York: Guilford Press.
Rubin, LJ. (1996). Childhood sexual abuse: False accusations of "false memory"? Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 27(5), 447-451.
False memory proponents assumes child sexual abuse would always be recalled accurately, whereas memory would be easily distorted in the survivor. The possibility of perpetrators "false memory" is explored. Denial, secrecy, re-enactment of trauma, alcoholic blackouts and outright lying are all potential explanations for perpetrator memory loss and motivated forgetting.
Scheflin, AW, & Brown, D. (1996). Repressed memory or dissociative amnesia: What the science says. Journal of Psychiatry and Law, 24(2), 143-188.
Reviews 25 studies on amnesia in child sexual abuse that includes various methodologies and populations: Clinical and non-clinical surveys, Random sample surveys, Prospective studies, and studies on the accuracy of recovered trauma memories
Scheflin, AW, Brown, D, & Hammond, DC. (1997). Memory, therapy, and law. Des Plaines, IL: American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
Schooler, JW. (1994). Seeking the core: The issues and evidence surrounding recovered accounts of sexual trauma. Consciousness and Cognition, 3, 452-469.
Simon, RI, & Gutheil, TG (1997). Ethical and risk management principles in recovered memory cases: Maintaining therapist neutrality. In PS Appelbaum, LS Ryehara, & MR Elin. (Eds.). Trauma and Recovery: Clinical and Legal Controversy, 477-495. New York: Oxford University Press.
Spiegel, D, & Scheflin, AW (1994). Dissociated or fabricated: Psychiatric aspects of repressed memory in criminal and civil cases. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 42, 411-432.
van der Kolk, BA, & Fisler, RE. (1995). Dissociation and the fragmentary nature of traumatic memories: Overview and exploratory study. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 8(4), 505- 525.
46 subjects with PTSD. Traumatic memories were initially retrieved as visual, olfactory, affective, auditory and kinesthetic experiences. Over time there was a gradual emergence of a reconstructed personal narrative.
Widom, CS, & Shepard, RL (1996). Accuracy of adult recollections of childhood victimiztion: Part 1. Childhood physical abuse. Psychological Assessment, 8(4), 412-421.
Using data from a prospective-cohorts desing study in which children who were physically, sexually abused or neglected about 20 years ago, accuracy of adult recollections were assessed. There was also a matched control group. 1,196 interviews were conducted. Results indicated good discriminant validity and predictive efficiency of the self-report measures, despite substantial underreporting by physically abused respondents.
Williams, LM. (1994). What does it mean to forget child sexual abuse? A reply to Loftus, Garry, & Feldman. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 1182-1186.
Further analysis of the data from 129 women disproved alternative hypotheses offered by Loftus, et al. for "forgetting".