Re: Recovered Memories

From: HARNAD Stevan (
Date: Wed Feb 21 1996 - 16:05:19 GMT

> Date: Tue, 20 Feb 96 12:47:57 -0800
> From: "Bardwell, Sam" <>
> In your lectures and e-mails you have mentioned the phrase 'lost
> memories' are these simply things you have forgotten or things you have
> suppressed(consciously or subconsciously) or have I grabbed the wrong end
> of the stick? I would be grateful if you could elaborate.

We'll talk a little about this when we discuss the unconscious mind, but
here's a quick synopsis:

According to Freudian psychology, some of our psychological problems
may have arisen because of early painful or perplexing experiences
that we have "repressed" or "actively forgotten." Psychotherapy is
supposed to help lift the repression. The result is called "recovered
memories." The methodological question is: How do you know that the
memories are real?

In applied and clinical psychology this is a real, practical question,
sometimes even a legal one. But for cognitive psychology it is a
question about the limits and testability of memory, whether early or
late, painful or neutral. The point I was making in the lecture was one
about problems with introspective observations: Is the fact that, after
some prodding and suggestion, I have my IMPRESSION that I can now
recall an early experience I had previously forgotten EVIDENCE that it
really happened and I forgot and the again remembered it? A videotape of
the actual scene would be evidence, but is the introspective experience

We have an expert on this subject in this Department, Dr. Amina Memon:

There is also a module on this in Thinking Psychologically, for those
of you who are Honours Psychology students.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Feb 13 2001 - 16:23:37 GMT