Evidence and memory recovery

2021-07-17 01:00 PM

In the debate about the veracity of retrieving memory, each side presents evidence to support its opinion and to cast doubt on opposing opinions.

Evidence overview

Brewin and Andrews (1998) consider the evidence for each explanation. According to the authors, the general characteristics of the evidence are:

The age when most traumatic events are thought to occur outside of childhood memory.

There is a substantial (frequent) degree of evidence of events based on the nature of those events.

The content of most recovered memories includes a variety of events. These events occur quite frequently and are not limited to child sexual abuse.

Well-trained psychologists, using well-established techniques, have also reported cases of patients recovering memories.

The memory recovery context is not limited to the counselor's office.

Based on this background, Brewin and Andrews argue that the evidence is insufficient to rule out the possibility of real memory retrieval, at least in some cases, and that each case should be considered on the merits. its own. Nevertheless, because there are serious doubts about the veracity of at least some of the recovered memories, many professional organizations have developed guidelines for how clinicians should respond to reports. about "restored memories". A typical example is the guidelines of the Australian Psychological Society.

Recovery of “memory” is reported spontaneously or by a special process.

Something in therapy may be correct, incorrect, or a mixture of real and false.

The degree of belief in memory, the emotions associated with the memory are not necessarily related to the accuracy of the memory.

Existing clinical and scientific evidence does not determine whether accurate, incorrect or created memories are reliable without relevant evidence.

Psychologists/therapists should:

Pay attention to the ways in which they can create memories that the client communicates through the expectations they convey, their comments, questions, and responses to the client.

Note that intentionally or unintentionally, clients are sensitive to subtle and reinforcing suggestions.

Be empathetic and supportive of your client's reports, while making sure they don't jump to conclusions about the truth or falsity of their recall.

Inform any client who has recalled a memory of abuse that it may be a true memory of a past event, maybe an altered or distorted memory of a past event. actual event or a false memory of an event that never happened.

Memory is restored

Since the late 1980s, many clinicians have argued that many adults who were traumatized in childhood have suppressed all memories of those events and that memories can only be restored. during psychotherapy. In a seminal article, Bass and David (1988) argued that such repressions were not normal and advised therapists to accept "restored experiences" of being bullied. abuse and ignore suspicions even if they find a certain part of the story questionable. Memories 40 years after the trauma can still be recovered with quite a bit of detail. Individuals may describe memories in whole or in part that were lost for months or years as they grew older.

The nature of the reported abuses is quite varied, most often sexual abuse occurring more than once; Six percent of calls to the British False Memory Society in the mid-1990s reported serious ethical violations, while 18 percent of calls to the same American organization reported the same statement. similar thing. Of these, in both countries, not a single case has been proven or prosecuted. Individuals identified as perpetrators are often parents or family members, often denying or claiming that they have been falsely accused: that is, recovered memories of abuse are memories. fake. Right or wrong, the negative impact of these accusations on families is profound.

Explanations of restored memory

The phenomenon of memory retrieval has given rise to many debates. There have been three different explanations for this phenomenon.

Accurate description (accurate accounts)

The recovered memory is the correct description of previously forgotten events and should be accepted even in the absence of evidence. The explanation for why these events are forgotten focuses on both the unconscious mechanisms that prevent the recognition of easily recoverable memories during the time of trauma and the recall. The first unconscious mechanism is dissociation. It is a type of altered consciousness in which normal perceptual and cognitive functions are impaired: the individual feels things are unreal and alien to him. Dissociation can occur during a traumatic experience, and it acts as a defense mechanism that prevents the individual from experiencing the full emotional impact of what is happening. The recovery of related emotions is poor because cognitive processing has little or no encoding for it. The remaining memories may be incomplete, but they are vivid and powerful. Hunter (1997) described three types of dissociation found in childhood abuse victims: 1- out-of-body experiences experienced and in that memory, the event as if it was happening to someone, unlike the victim herself; 2- conscious efforts to forget the event during or after it occurred; and 3- the creation of an imaginary world in which victims can escape and feel safe during and after abuse. Failure to recall the event is the result of long and negative dissociation that prevents retrieval of information that was once stored in memory. 1- out-of-body experiences are experienced and in that memory, the event seems to be happening to someone, unlike the victim himself; 2- conscious efforts to forget the event during or after it occurred; and 3- the creation of an imaginary world in which victims can escape and feel safe during and after abuse. Failure to recall the event is the result of long and negative dissociation that prevents retrieval of information that was once stored in memory. 1- out-of-body experiences are experienced and in that memory, the event seems to be happening to someone, unlike the victim himself; 2- conscious efforts to forget the event during or after it occurred; and 3- the creation of an imaginary world in which victims can escape and feel safe during and after abuse. Failure to recall the event is the result of long and negative dissociation that prevents retrieval of information that was once stored in memory.

Illusion

Recovered memories are an illusion: these false memories are formed by the treatment process itself (Zola, 1998). Such memories are “planted” by therapists. These therapists see their clients as victims of abuse. They use therapy to persuade clients to remember forgotten episodes of abuse. The likelihood of suggestive influences leading to memory errors is increased with the therapist's authority and credibility, repetition, and persuasive/logic seeming.

Forgetting normal

Memory recovery is not "special", but rather the result of normal forgetting (Loftus and Ketcheam, 1994). This explanation may be particularly relevant for single traumatic episodes, but it is difficult to apply to the forgetting of repeated episodes of trauma.

Evidence of memory recovery

In the debate about the veracity of retrieving memory, each side presents evidence to support its opinion and to cast doubt on opposing opinions. The debate deals with research related to normal memory processes and more clinical issues.

Age when the event occurred

Recovering memories sometimes describe events that occurred before age 2, often with significant detail (Loftus and Ketcham, 1994). For example, Morton et al. (1995) reported that 26% of alleged abuse cases occurred when the victim was between 0 and 2 years of age. So these memories can hardly be trusted. Most people do not have the ability to recall experiences during the first two or three years of life because then the area of ​​the cerebral cortex that later becomes a storage area for long-term memory is in the process of maturing and cannot be processed, long-term information storage.

Evidence of powerful emotional memory distortions

Some clinicians (e.g. Terr 1991) have suggested that trauma-related memories are not subject to the usual process of memory distortion or fading. So memories of trauma are more accurate than “normal” long-term memories. This claim can be questioned, in part, by the avoidance and dissociation mechanisms described above. These mechanisms are thought to interfere with the correct perception of events. Empirical evidence also proves the hypothesis to be false. For example, Neisser and Harsch (1992) asked students the day after the Challenger disaster to describe their personal memories of the event: where they were when the disaster occurred. sketches and the like. Two years later, when asked to describe their memories, one-third of the students told a story that was significantly different from their original story. It should be noted that there is little relationship between the accuracy of the recalled "truths" and the students' confidence in their ability to recall them. The Challenger disaster may not have been traumatic enough for those not directly involved and did not leave them with an indelible memory trail. Whether a more prominent emotional event might elicit another memory processing is unclear, although according to numerous case studies in which long-term memories and the actual event are inconsistent. At many points, there is no memory processing that differs from the usual more intensely emotional events (Zola, 1998). Of course, this argument may cast doubt on the veracity of recovered memories but does not confirm whether those events actually occurred. The Challenger disaster may not have been traumatic enough for those not directly involved and did not leave them with an indelible memory trail. Whether a more prominent emotional event might elicit another memory processing is unclear, although according to numerous case studies in which long-term memories and the actual event are inconsistent. At many points, there is no memory processing that differs from the usual more intensely emotional events (Zola, 1998). Of course, this argument may cast doubt on the veracity of recovered memories but does not confirm whether those events occurred. The Challenger disaster may not have been traumatic enough for those not directly involved and did not leave them with an indelible memory trail. Whether a more prominent emotional event might elicit another memory processing is unclear, although according to numerous case studies in which long-term memories and the actual event are inconsistent. At many points, there is no memory processing that differs from the usual more intensely emotional events (Zola, 1998). Of course, this argument may cast doubt on the veracity of recovered memories but does not confirm whether those events occurred. Whether a more prominent emotional event might elicit another memory processing is unclear, although according to numerous case studies in which long-term memories and the actual event are inconsistent. At many points, there is no memory processing that differs from the usual more intensely emotional events (Zola, 1998). Of course, this argument may cast doubt on the veracity of recovered memories but does not confirm whether those events occurred. Whether a more prominent emotional event might elicit another memory processing is unclear, although according to numerous case studies in which long-term memories and the actual event are inconsistent. At many points, there is no memory processing that differs from the usual more intensely emotional events (Zola, 1998). Of course, this argument may cast doubt on the veracity of recovered memories but does not confirm whether the events occurred.

Proof:

Obtaining evidence of childhood sexual abuse is obviously very difficult. However, Feldman-Summers and Pope (1994) found some level of evidence in 47% of the cases they studied, including abusers admitting some or all of the abuses they remember. or someone else recounts. In another independent survey of British clinical psychologists (see Brewin and Andrews, 1998), the rate was 41%.

Conditions of re-enactment:

Obviously, if restored memories are a therapy-induced phenomenon, most of the memories must emerge during therapy. But the reality is not like that. Feldman-Summers and Pope (1994) find that more than half of such memories are recovered during therapy, with 44% occurring in other settings. In contrast, Goodyear-Smith et al. (1997) based on a review of several studies showing that in more than 80% of cases of sexual abuse, memories often recur while the victim is receiving psychotherapy.

Attempts to Forget

A key element in the debate about repressed memories is the assumption that adults who recall childhood traumas used unconscious coping mechanisms to make them forget the event they remembered. experienced. If this is true, most people who have experienced childhood trauma use similar coping strategies and will have similar recall problems. Evidence against this hypothesis has been found in many studies of children who have experienced traumatic events and these events are a matter of remembering the past. Events can be abduction, genocide or witnessing the murder of a parent and the child can still remember them correctly (Zola, 1998). In each case, there was no evidence of memory suppression,

Proponents of the repressed memory hypothesis counter these claims by arguing that sexual abuse is different from other forms of trauma and that and entails its own way of coping. They argue that because abuse is often committed by parents or close acquaintances and occurs more often when the victim is isolated than in companionship, its consequences are unique. It has also been suggested that memories of single traumatic events that occur once are often retained while long and repeated traumas are often repressed (Terr, 1991). The exact mnemonic mechanism that might make this difference is unclear.

Evidence of creating fake traumatic memories

Opponents of the concept of restorative memory argue that such memories are often the result of the therapist's questions and the result of a suggestion of childhood abuse planted in the heads of people who have never experienced it. go through that. There is quite a bit of evidence that this is a possible hypothesis, at least for some of the cases where memories are recovered. In a prime example of this, Piaget (1954) is an adult who can recall some detailed memories of his being abducted at the age of 2. Although this was an unprecedented occurrence, a nurse for the family told Piaget. In 1998, Loftus and Coan provided more empirical evidence. In one study, adults were asked about childhood events, one of which never happened, and one of their family members was present at the interview on duty to “remind” them of the event that never happened. Then, 6 out of 24 interviewees “remembered” the event that never existed and added details about the story. Using a similar method, Hyman et al. (1995) asked college students about many childhood events that never happened, including being hospitalized in the middle of the night due to an ear infection. At the end of the interview, although no one had "remembered" the fake event, they were encouraged to remember more information about themselves before the following interview. And in the second interview, a quarter of the participants remembered the details of the fake event. 6 out of 24 interviewees “remembered” the event that did not exist and added details about the story. Using a similar method, Hyman et al. (1995) asked college students about many childhood events that never happened, including being hospitalized in the middle of the night due to an ear infection. At the end of the interview, although no one had "remembered" the fake event, they were encouraged to remember more information about themselves before the following interview. And in the second interview, a quarter of the participants remembered the details of the fake event. 6 out of 24 interviewees “remembered” the event that did not exist and added details about the story. Using a similar method, Hyman et al. (1995) asked college students about many childhood events that never happened, including being hospitalized in the middle of the night due to an ear infection. At the end of the interview, although no one had "remembered" the fake event, they were encouraged to remember more information about themselves before the following interview. And in the second interview, a quarter of the participants remembered the details of the fake event. including being hospitalized in the middle of the night for an ear infection. At the end of the interview, although no one had "remembered" the fake event, they were encouraged to remember more information about themselves before the following interview. And in the second interview, a quarter of the participants remembered the details of the fake event. including being hospitalized in the middle of the night for an ear infection. At the end of the interview, although no one had "remembered" the fake event, they were encouraged to remember more information about themselves before the following interview. And in the second interview, a quarter of the participants remembered the details of the fake event.

Conclusion:

Although the percentage of people who do so is unknown, many people who recall traumatic memories eventually deny that the memories never actually happened, that it was just a consequence of treatment. Whether. The story of Claire, who retracted statements about being sexually abused by a member of her family, is an example. Here, Claire's story focuses on her therapist's power over her, how he carved out her memories and how she later realized his negative effects on her. :

Looking back, it's hard to understand how things got so negative and gone so far. How did a relationship with a therapist become the sole - absolute - focal point of my life for three years straight? How did I sell my soul, myself to someone else? How I fell under the spell of a man when he, it turned out, had problems with his own life; a man who is so mentally deficient in himself that he needs me and others to be "sick" so that he can become strong and powerful. I trusted that man with my life - my soul. I share everything with him - my dreams, my life's desires. I confessed my sins to him. He is my husband, mother, father, sister, friend, and teacher. My role model. He is everything to me. Everything he said, I agree with. How could he be wrong? My life was attached to his, my ability to think for myself disappeared. I thought he wanted me to think. I believed what he wanted me to believe. I became what he wanted me to be.