Recovered-Memory Debate

July 5, 1996 • Volume 6, Issue 25
Can painful memories be repressed and later recalled?
By Richard L. Worsnop


Some mental health experts claim that memories of personal childhood trauma, often sexual abuse by a family member, may be totally repressed. Years later, they say, the memories may surface, typically during psychotherapy. Such cases have drawn heavy media coverage in recent years - and have generated widespread controversy among legal and mental health professionals. Some experts cite studies supporting the thesis that the mind can bury painful memories. Others contend the studies are inconclusive and that ill-trained psychotherapists plant false memories in their patients. To add to the controversy, some recovered memories include lurid details about alien abductions or satanic rituals. But all parties to the debate agree on one thing: Child sex abuse is a serious problem requiring urgent attention.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Child Abuse
Mental Health