The repressed memory controversy: is there middle ground?

TitleThe repressed memory controversy: is there middle ground?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsPenfold, PS
Date Published1996 Sep 15
KeywordsChild, Child Abuse, Sexual, Humans, Psychotherapy, Repression, Psychology, Research

To familiarize readers with the main issues in the debate over the veracity of long-hidden memories of childhood sexual abuse, information, arguments and hypotheses from the medical and social-science literature are examined. The author reviews the challenge presented by those who propose that all or most memories of past sexual abuse recovered during therapy are false, the response of those who contend that these memories are valid and could not be manufactured by therapists, and the views of those with a more balanced approach who carefully examine all of the evidence and look for the middle ground. Although research in this area is in its infancy, available information suggests that both recovered and fabricated memories exist. Until further research helps to identify the difference between the two, physicians need to keep an open mind and offer support and understanding to both alleged victims and accused parents. Research is needed on (1) the extent of corroboration of recovered memories of sexual abuse; (2) the identification of memory mechanisms, specific situations and personality factors involved in forgetting and remembering traumatic events; and (3) the factors affecting traumatized patients during therapy, including memory performance and suggestibility.

Alternate JournalCMAJ
PubMed ID8823210
PubMed Central IDPMC1335217