Repressed memories

Suppressed memories of abuse

Repressed memory is an alleged psychiatric phenomenon which involves an inability to recall autobiographical information, usually of a traumatic or stressful nature. The concept originated in psychoanalytic theory where repression is understood as a defense mechanism that excludes painful experiences and unacceptable impulses from consciousness. Repressed memory is a controversial concept, particularly in legal contexts where it has been used to impugn individuals unfairly and inaccurately, leading to substantial harm. At the same time, an American Psychological Association working group indicated that while "most people who were sexually abused as children remember all or part of what happened to them, it is possible for memories of abuse that have been forgotten for a long time to be remembered". Although Sigmund Freud later revised his theory, he initially held that memories of childhood sexual trauma were often repressed (could not be recalled later in life) yet the traumas unconsciously influenced behavior and emotional responding.

Despite widespread belief in the phenomenon of repressed memories among laypersons and clinical psychologists, most research psychologists who study the psychology of memory dispute that repression ever occurs at all. While some psychologists believe that repressed memories can be recovered through psychotherapy (or may be recovered spontaneously, years or even decades after the event, when the repressed memory is triggered by a particular smell, taste, or other identifier related to the lost memory), experts in the psychology of memory argue that, rather than promoting the recovery of a real repressed memory, psychotherapy is more likely to contribute to the creation of false memories.

In part because of the intense controversies that arose surrounding the concepts of repressed and recovered memories, many clinical psychologists stopped using those terms and instead adopted the term dissociative amnesia to refer to the purported processes whereby memories for traumatic events become inaccessible, and the term dissociative amnesia can be found in the DSM-5, where it is defined as an "inability to recall autobiographical information. This amnesia may be localized (i.e., an event or period of time), selective (i.e., a specific aspect of an event), or generalized (i.e., identity and life history)." The change in terminology, however, has not made belief in the phenomenon any less problematic according to experts in the field of memory. Clinical psychologist Richard McNally stated: "The notion that traumatic events can be repressed and later recovered is the most pernicious bit of folklore ever to infect psychology and psychiatry. It has provided the theoretical basis for 'recovered memory therapy'—the worst catastrophe to befall the mental health field since the lobotomy era."

Source: Wikipedia

One study demonstrated of 100 women with a documented medical history of child abuse as children showed that 38% were unable to recall that abuse 17 years later. In the USA in 1993 it was reported that millions of dollars in insurance payments was underwriting years of therapy for thousands of patients who claim to have recovered memories of childhood abuse. The therapy may have been sought for other purposes supposedly quite unrelated to past abuse. Such recovery was virtually non-existent in the 1970s and is having a profound effect on the legal system. The statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse has been withdrawn in many states in the USA leading to criminal charges with awards up to $5 million.
It is questionable how much trust can be placed in memories of abuse that appear to emerge years later. Many cases indicate that the memories are confused with dreams and fantasy or can mix up the personalities involved.
(F) Fuzzy exceptional problems