Repressed and Recovered Memories – Essay Example

This paper "Repressed and Recovered Memories" is a sterling example of a psychology essay.
Repressed memories are those memories that the mind has suppressed, as a defence mechanism; recovered memories are supposedly those repressed memories brought back through therapeutic treatment. However, controversy rages over whether it is possible to repress a traumatic memory and then over whether it is possible to bring such memories back to the forefront of the conscious mind. Despite this controversy and the doubt surrounding such memories, many individuals have been accused of and even prosecuted for horrendous child abuse, neglect, and sexual assault (Davis and Loftus, 2009).

One reason for a large amount of doubt surrounding recovered memories of child abuse has to do with the mental state of someone who goes to a therapist specializing in memory recovery. These patients may want to find recovered memories and may be influenced by the sensationalized media of cases involving child sexual abuse and memory repression. Implantation of a false memory, either deliberately or inadvertently, is much easier when the subject finds the content of the memory plausible. If a patient believes it is plausible that they were abused, and believes it is possible to recover memories of that abuse, false memories could be manufactured fairly easily (Rubin and Berntsen, 2009).

Recovered memories should be treated very carefully when it comes to concerns about abuse. The public is likely to take these memories at face value unless evidence is presented to the contrary (Buck and Warren, 2010). The stigma attached to child abuse is so strong that many individuals will be greatly harmed by the mere accusation. Unless some form of physical evidence exists or another individual with continuous memories can be found to corroborate the story, moving forward with a criminal accusation or case based on recovered memories is probably unwise.