Recovered memories and false memories

Chris R. Brewin

in New Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry

Second edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199696758
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191743221 | DOI:
Recovered memories and false memories

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Clinicians working with survivors of traumatic experiences have frequently noted the existence of memory loss with no obvious physical cause and the recovery of additional memories during clinical sessions. Indeed, amnesia is described in diagnostic manuals as a feature of post-traumatic stress disorder, although its presence is not necessary for this diagnosis. In the majority of these cases, people forget details of the traumatic event or events, or forget how they reacted at the time, although they remember that the event happened. They typically report that they have endeavoured not to think about the event, but have never forgotten that it occurred. Controversy is centred on memories of traumatic events, particularly concerning child abuse, that appear to be recovered after a long period of time in which there was complete forgetting that they had ever happened. It has sometimes been suggested that many, if not all, of these apparent recovered memories are the product of inappropriate therapeutic suggestion. This argument has been promulgated in particular by the False Memory Syndrome Foundation in the United States, by its counterpart, the British False Memory Society, and by their scientific advisors.

Chapter.  2569 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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