Problem

Recovered memories

Other Names:
False memory implantation
False memory syndrome
Fallacious repressed recall
Forgotten memories
Lost therapy
Restored memory
Nature:
Certain psychological therapies purport to be able to restore forgotten or repressed memories, thus empowering patients with a knowledge of their past. In some cases, there is corroborative evidence for the truth of recovered memories; in other cases, the recovered memories may be totally unexpected and unsupported. In both cases, the exposure of these memories may be shattering for patients and their families. Opponents claim that such memories are usually caused by the suggestions of the therapists themselves, and call the recollection of such memories "false memory syndrome". Some patients, unwilling to accept their recovered memories as truth, for whatever reason, accuse their therapists of manipulation. The fear of such accusations inhibits therapists from assisting patients whose repressed memories may be genuine, and who could be helped by a recovery of those memories.
Incidence:
In both the USA and the UK people have taken therapists to court, claiming their family lives have been destroyed by fantasies planted by unscrupulous therapists.
Claim:
In 1998 the British Royal College of Psychiatrists was divided on whether there was any evidence supporting the truth of memories that can be recovered only with the encouragement of a therapist.
Counter Claim:
One woman committed suicide after being told her memories were false.
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
27.05.1999 – 00:00 CEST