Repressed Memories

5487 Words22 Pages
“Repressed memories are a figment of the imagination”. Critically discuss this statement. The concept of repression – which is the bone of contention between those who believe in the mission of recovery therapy and those who denounce it – presumes a peculiar power of the mind (Loftus and Ketchum, 1994). The current dispute regarding the existence of repression has mainly focused on whether people remember or forget trauma. Repression, however, is a multidimensional construct, which, in addition to the memory aspect, consists of pathogenic effects on adjustment and the unconscious (Rofe´, 2008). The challenges of memory recovery have not escaped judicial attention. Courts have increasingly found repressed memory testimony to be…show more content…
Psychoanalytic theory maintains that repressed memories are preserved for an indefinite period of time, and can be recovered in their original form through hypnosis and psychoanalytic therapy (McNally, 2003). This concept has been challenged, particularly around the manner in which retrieval happens. Ferracuti, Cannoni, De-Carolis, Gonella, and Lazzari (2002) argue that retrieval through hypnosis can yield confabulations (such as memories from previous lives). Gardner (2004) argues that psychodynamic therapists can place patients at risk for developing false memories. The notion of false memory has gained some clinical validation (Kaplan and Manicavasagar, 2001), increasing skepticism regarding the authenticity of recovered repressed memories. Ganaway (1989) proposed that if memories are not authentic, they could be due to fantasy, illusion, or hallucination-mediated screen memories, internally derived as a defense mechanism. Furthermore, memories combine a mixture of borrowed ideas, characters, myths, and accounts from exogenous sources with idiosyncratic internal beliefs. These inauthentic memories could be externally derived as a result of unintentional implantation of suggestion by a therapist. Advocates of repression used clinical cases indicating that child abuse victims may become amnesic of their trauma and that therapeutic interventions may generate a genuine recollection of their repressed trauma (Brenneis, 2000; Cheit, 1998; Kluft,
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