Seeking the Core: The Issues and Evidence Surrounding Recovered Accounts of Sexual Trauma

Consciousness and Cognition 3 (3-4):452-469 (1994)
Abstract
This review identifies some of the many layers that surround and potentially obscure the emotionally charged topic of recovered accounts of childhood abuse. Consideration of the, admittedly often indirect, evidence provides suggestive support for many of the components of both recovered and fabricated memories of abuse. With respect to recovered memories the available evidence suggests that: although the prior accessibility of a memory may be difficult to determine, recovered memory reports can sometimes be corroborated with respect to their correspondence to actual abuse; although individuals often retain memory for trauma, there is evidence for fluctuations in the accessibility of traumatic experiences, particularly for situations that are extremely difficult to talk about; there are compelling mechanisms available to account for both the decreases and the subsequent increases in accessibility of traumatic memories that could lead to recovered memory reports. With respect to fabricated memories the available evidence suggests that: people are highly capable of fabricating vivid recollections that can be confused with reality; once fabricated, there seems to be no limit to the preposterous false memories that some individuals are capable of accepting particularly when in the presence of a persuasive individual in a position of authority. Although future research is needed to provide more direct evidence for the above claims, at present readers are urged to consider the strong likelihood that both recovered and fabricated memories correspond to real phenomena
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