Re: The Reality of Repressed Memory

From: Bollons Nicholas (
Date: Fri Nov 10 1995 - 12:03:16 GMT

Here is the synopsis on the Reality Of Repressed Memory Article by
Loftus that appeared in the May 1993 issue of the American

Reality of Repressed Memories

6.8 Million women were raped in the U.S.A in 1993
4.7 Million more than once
1.7 Million child abuse cases were reported in 1993

The article begins with an important legal case that changed not
only certain aspects of the American Judicial System but of public
opinion towards the haunting concept of repressed memories. The case
of George Franklin Snr convicted of rape, and the murder, of Susan
Nathan: by new evidence given by his daughter (Eileen) who had
witnessed the murder in 1969 but had repressed the memories for over
20 years . This led to the creation of the Delayed Discovery
Doctirine through 18 States within the U.S.A and the need for Psycho
evaluation in certain " unusual " court cases . This new interest
that has led to a questioning of the previous beliefs that there was
no Empirical evidence to justify the authenticity of Repressed
Memories (Holmes).

Briere and Conte interviewed clinical patients in regards to them
remembering past sexual abuse , nearly 59% said that they were unable
to account for the memory before the age 18 (that the memories were
repressed). Studies by Williams also verified these findings.

The article goes on to criticise the role of the Clinical
Psychologist in the creation of a Repressed Memory syndrome ie by
suggestion (Ganaway 1989) and the mis- diagnosis of patients who then
continue to explore these fake memories to the extent of belief when
they do not even have any repressed memories.

Even if repressed memories are uncovered there authenticity has to
be proved . It seems that although a person may give certain correct
information from a memory sometimes parts are either missing or
incorrect (in the Franklin case Eileen thought the attack happened in
the morning not the evening ).

But it was not the detail of the memories that the article , or
Loftus , concentrates on : but the idea of repressed memory
injection . Laurence and Perry had some success through hypnosis and
Loftus was able to inject a completely false memory of being lost in
a shopping mall into one subject(Chris) .Who later verified the account with
considerable detail ,even though it had never occured . Paul Ingram
(Ofshe 1992)pleaded guilty to being a member of a Satanic cult and
during interogation was injected with false memories of abusing his
own children for which he believed.

Loftus concludes the article by stating that although psychologists
do not have the tools to distinguish between reliable/accurate, and
non-accurate, repressed memories the renewed effort in this field
will hopefully shed some light into the problem.

THOUGHT: It seems that repressed memories have the ability to hide
in all of us for years and then suddenly re-surface un-expectedly.
                                    ( Scary )
Does this mean that we might all be carrying round certain
memories ,un-known to us , that can help explain our negative moods and
personality ? Is our mind telling us "that what we don't know won't
hurt us " .

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