The article, “Questions and Answers about Memories of Childhood Abuse” beings with two important questions; namely, “Can a memory be forgotten and then remember?” and “Can a ‘memory’ be suggested and then remembered as true?” These questions are central to the issue of childhood abuse.
Recovered memories are rare. One experienced practitioner came across only one recovered memory in 20 years. Furthermore, various viewpoints exist regarding lost and recovered memories from childhood traumas. Some clinicians believe that it is a storage and retrieval problem and see delayed memory or dissociation as a likely cause. “Dissociation means that a memory is not actually lost but is for some time unavailable for retrieval” (ibid.). This may be a way for individuals to shelter themselves from painful memories. Many researchers, however, believe that there is little or no empirical support for dissociation. There is general agreement between clinicians and memory researchers that most individuals who were sexually abused as children remember all or part of it. They also believe that although it is a rare occurrence, forgotten memories can be retrieved later, but that pseudomemories (false memories) can arise for things that never happened. Pseudomemories can be vivid and emotionally charged, especially those relating to childhood abuse. Although uncertainty exists as to how they originate,certain therapeutic practices may create and reinforce them (False Memory Syndrome).
Existing controversy over the validity of childhood memories has shown there are research areas that should be explored, an important one being finding techniques that are most conducive to creating conditions under which childhood abuse can be remembered with accuracy.
False Memory Syndrome. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved on January 29, 2012, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1341171/false-memory-syn.
Questions and Answers about Memories of Childhood Abuse. American Psychological Association. Retrieved on January 29, 2012, from http://www.apa.org/topics/trauma/memories.aspx.