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Repressed Memories, False Memories Essay

2281 words - 9 pages

AbstractThere is a great debate regarding the recovery of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) memories and on the accuracy of those recovered memories. Recovered memories are memories that have been remembered after previously being blocked or "inaccessable for some period of time" (Gleaves, et al. 2004). Recovered memories may have been blocked due to 'repression' which is the removal of unwanted experiences into the unconscious (Barlow and Durand, 2005) because the event was considered too traumatic to deal with however, memories of CSA may sometimes be memories "of an event that did not occur" another words a false memory (Gleaves, et al. 2004).There are so many questions about memories of CSA, for instance, was the memory 'blocked' or 'repressed' due to 'amnesia' or just simply not thought about? Is the recovered memory real, fragmented with "blends of original and intervening (false) information" (Gleaves, et al. 2005) or a completely false memory?After such a great length of time (often years) after the initial CSA do these adults 'remember' what happened to them all those years ago. These recovered memories can cause confusion so some individuals seek help from a therapist because they feel that a therapist will be able to help them to understand there memories but others suggest that some therapists actually plant the 'suggestions' for CSA, that grow into what the client believes to be a real experience.The first argument that will be tackled is the one that suggests that CSA is traumatic and memories for the abuse are repressed due to amnesia.A repressed memory is "a process that forces unwanted material from the conscious into the unconscious" (Barlow And Durand, 2005) in other words a repressed memory is an awareness by the individual that something has happened but they have no memory of it. CSA is thought of as a traumatic set of events that may occur for years, the individual may voluntarily repress (known as suppression) the CSA memories gaining an 'amnesia' for these traumatic events that occurred very early in life (Barlow and Durand, 2005). Williams (1994) study of women that were confirmed CSA victims were very unlikely to remember CSA if it happened before 6 years of age (Widom and Morris, 1997)It has been suggested (Gleaves, et al. 2005) that the retrieval of CSA memories are dependant on the severity of the CSA itself, thus associating amnesia with trauma. In the Williams (1994) study 38% of the women "did not recall the abuse" when interviewed 17 years after the CSA occurred, does this mean that "The more traumatic an experience is, the more likely some victims will be unable to remember it" (McNally, 2004 ). We cannot be certain as to how severe CSA is perceived to be by the victim (Widom and Morris, 1997) and wether or not the victim is telling the truth about their alleged inability to recover the memories.The recovered memory of CSA may cause the individual real 'psychological stress' as they "often report that memory recovery...

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