Some people who experience sexual abuse during childhood cannot recall the trauma in later years. Psychologists do not all agree as to why this occurs, reasons ranging from repression to age to natural forgetting, etc. Regardless as to how such memories are "hidden," the real controversy lies in the victims' later recollection of their traumatic experiences. Many believe that victims may recover their memories of abuse through therapy or on their own, but memory's changeable, reconstructive nature makes these memories vulnerable to inaccuracies. Therapists, through the use of suggestion, confrontation, and memory- enhancing techniques, often unknowingly lead their patients into generating false memories. This does not mean that recovering accurate memories is utterly impossible and never occurs. The difficulty arises in that the experimentation necessary to prove or disprove the existence of repression or of recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse is considered to be unethical and cannot, therefore, be performed.
[...] Professional Psychology: Research & Practice 626-626. Knapp, S., & VandeCreek, L. (2000). Recovered memories of childhood abuse: Is there an underlying consensus? Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 365-371. Loftus, E. (1993). The reality [...]
[...] In this sense, one of the only ways to verify the authenticity of a recovered memory is with the help of corroborating evidence or proof, yet it is rather difficult to gather substantial proof when a woman does not recall that she was touched inappropriately by her father until decades later; of course, does not mean that [her memory is] false,” either (Loftus, reality 1993). And Bertram Karon and Anmarie Widener (1998) sustain that “even taking into account all objections and alternate explanations, there [are] still cases” where recalled memories of abuse are later “accompanied by highest level' of corroboration,” that being either “physical evidence or perpetrator confession”; yet the fact that some memories have been verified does not mean all recovered memories are accurate. [...]
[...] It begins with the ambiguity of repression whatever the psychological cause of forgetting the memories”- and concludes with people truly believing themselves victims in traumatic events that may or may not have occurred (Pennebaker & Memon, 1996). But it is this amount of uncertainty that has made recovered memories such a great controversy, for there is no ethical way a scientist could ever prove whether recovered memories are valid since he cannot sexually abuse a group of children and observe what happens to them psychologically as compared to another normal, or control group. [...]
[...] Roediger and Erik Bergman (1998) further repression's ambiguity by adding that most typical memory difficulty among trauma victims is the frequent and unavoidable recall of their trauma [and] not its repression,” thereby exemplifying that repression in itself is a rarity and not experienced systematically by all victims. For these reasons, many psychologists turn away from repression in assessing a victim's inability to a recall a particular traumatic event or string of events. In avoiding repression as a possible explanation as to why memories are or many often turn to other causes which suit specific situations or cases. [...]
[...] In conclusion, before the controversy considering the legitimacy of recovered memories can even arise, it must be made clear that how such memories are originally is not universally agreed upon; however, for the purpose of this argument we shall treat all such explanations as being equally possible causes of abuse memories being so that we may be able to focus more on how such traumatic memories resurface and their ultimate validity. The main argument, therefore, is not whether repression exists but if is possible for individuals to have traumatic experiences in childhood and then not remember them until decades later” (Pennebaker & Memon, 1996). [...]
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