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The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse

The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse
Author: Elizabeth Loftus - Katherine Ketcham
ISBN 13: 9780312141233
ISBN 10: 312141238
Edition: 1st St. Martin's Griffin
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: 1996-01-15
Format: Paperback
Pages: 312
List Price: $16.99

According to many clinical psychologists, when the mind is forced to endure a horrifying experience, it has the ability to bury the entire memory of it so deeply within the unconscious that it can only be recalled in the form of a flashback triggered by a sight, a smell, or a sound. Indeed, therapists and lawyers have created an industry based on treating and litigating the cases of people who suddenly claim to have "recovered" memories of everything from child abuse to murder.

This book reveals that despite decades of research, there is absolutely no controlled scientific support for the idea that memories of trauma are routinely banished into the unconscious and then reliably recovered years later. Since it is not actually a legitimate psychological phenomenon, the idea of "recovered memory"—and the movement that has developed alongside it—is thus closer to a dangerous fad or trendy witch hunt.


Presents several in-depth case studies of how families have been torn apart by child sexual abuse cases based on what Loftus (psychology, U. of Washington) considers the scientifically suspect concept of repressed memory. Drawing on her long experimental research into the nature of memory, she says it is not like video tape, storing images until they are replayed, but is a creative process related to dreams, creative writing, imagination, and wishful thinking. She accuses overzealous and ideological therapists of manipulating the memory of vulnerable women and creating a hysteria similar to the witch hunts. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)