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establishment psycho-bunk 4 —

the myth of
repressed memory

a briefing document

New translation, the Magna Carta

humans are highly suggestible, and memory is very unreliable
marker at abelard.org establishment psycho-bunk 1—‘lie detection’ click for documnt start   establishment psycho-bunk is a sub-set of documents, within this document set. This document set shows how to apply empiric reasoning to social and psychological problems..
marker at abelard.org establishment psycho-bunk 2 —Ritalin and junk science   Intelligence: misuse and abuse of statistics drugs, smoking and addiction
marker at abelard.org establishment psycho-bunk 3 —‘dyslexia’  

establishment psycho-bunk cause, chance and Bayesian statistics
marker at abelard.org establishment psycho-bunk 4 —the myth of repressed memory   misuse and corruption in science
marker at abelard.org psycho-bunk 5 —what is memory, or intelligence? Incautious claims of ‘IQ’ genes   For related empiric reasoning documents, start with
Why Aristotelian logic does not work
marker at abelard.org psycho-bunk 6—‘traumatic’ ‘syndromes’ or ‘curing’ P.E.S.Ts marker at abelard.org psycho-bunk 8—Sexual differences in childhood behaviour - socialist science: the result first, the study after
marker at abelard.org establishment psycho-bunk 7 —‘asperger’s’ and ‘autism’ marker at abelard.org psychobunk 9—Dyspraxia

kissed any frogs recently? the myth of repressed memory
rewriting memory
on emotional “amnesia”—early clues
notes on memory unreliability
related material
end notes

site map

kissed any frogs lately? the myth of repressed memory

During a recent study of memory recall and the use of suggestive interviewing, UC Irvine cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus successfully planted false memories in volunteers of several study groups – memories that included such unlikely events as kissing frogs, shaking hands with Bugs Bunny at Disneyland, and witnessing a demonic possession.”

“In another study, Loftus showed how false memories can be planted with a visual. Loftus and her colleagues exposed volunteers to a fake print advertisement describing a visit to Disneyland where they would meet Bugs Bunny. Later, 33 percent of these volunteers claimed they knew or remembered the event happening to them. (Bugs Bunny is a Warner Bros. character and has never appeared at Disneyland.) The false memory rate was boosted when people were given multiple exposures to the fake advertisement. In one study, 36 percent of those given three exposures said they met Bugs Bunny, compared to only 9 percent in a control condition.”

Alien abductees—

“But the researchers say "abductees" also believe in their experiences so deeply that they display real stress symptoms similar to those of traumatised battlefield veterans.”

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rewriting memory

And you might wonder how reliable court evidence is....

"The authors believe this is the first study to show how memory inserts things from the present into recollections of the past when they are retrieved. In their study, they demonstrate the exact point when that new information is implanted."

for further background
The myth of repressed memoryclick to return to index on repessed memory page


on emotional “amnesia”—early clues

Rather than emotion ‘repressing’ memory, emotion is likely to strengthen memory.

abstract follows:

New research illuminates the neurological underpinnings of a phenomenon known as emotion-induced amnesia. Emotional arousal can either enhance or impair memory, depending on various factors. Previous research indicated that enhanced memory for emotional events is mediated by endogenous stress hormones, particularly adrenergic hormones, and a part of the brain called the amygdala. However, little was known about the neurological basis of emotion-induced memory impairment. Bryan Strange of the University of London and colleagues addressed in research appearing in PNAS. The scientists asked study subjects to read and recall lists of nouns. Each list included an emotionally aversive word, such as "murder" or "scream." Subjects recalled the emotional words significantly better than neutral words. Furthermore, subjects recalled words immediately preceding emotional words significantly worse than other words in the list.[1] This emotion-induced memory impairment was twice as large in women as in men. To investigate the neurological basis of this effect, the researchers repeated the experiment with subjects who had received the drug propanolol, which blocks beta-adrenergic receptors, and with a patient with amygdala damage. In both cases, the subjects experienced neither memory enhancement for the emotional words, or memory impairment for the preceding words. These results suggest that both adrenergic hormones and the amygdala are involved in emotion-induced amnesia.

“An emotion-induced retrograde amnesia in humans is amygdala and beta-adrenergic dependent” by B. A. Strange, R. Hurlemann, and R. J. Dolan
in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS, November 11, 2003, vol. 100, no. 23, 13626-13631.

Also available for $10 from here.
Has a very adequate selective bibliography. Only recommended to dedicated specialists.click to return to index on repessed memory page

notes on memory unreliability

  1. It is my judgement that deliberate self-repression of memories does occur. However, it is quite impossible for a third party to verify whether they are dealing with a genuine repressed ‘memory’, or with a ‘memory’ that may have been implanted either deliberately or by incautious, or incompetent, questioning. Further, it is quite impossible to determine whether an individual is ‘lying’ to you, either deliberately or because they believe something which is not so.
  2. Guessing is not knowing, however much you may convince yourself that you are guessing correctly. Guessing correctly, remains guessing.
  3. You know that what you are reading, at this moment, is in front of you, as long as you are not dreaming or hallucinating. Remembering that you have read this is not quite as certain, and in a year’s time your memory will have faded further.
  4. You may imagine that you remember something that happened to you as a child. ‘It’ may, or may not, have happened in reality. Further, you do not know whether you are remembering an ‘incident’, or whether you have reminded yourself, or have been reminded over the years, and therefore whether you are remembering your remembering or are remembering a real incident.
  5. It is known to be widespread that humans tend to make up stories of the events they experience, rather than remembering the ‘incidents’ unembroidered.

Human memory is very unreliable.

related material

cause, chance and Bayesian statistics
establishment psycho-bunk 2 - Ritalin and junk science


The myth of repressed memory by Elizabeth LoftusLoftus, Dr. Elizabeth & Ketcham, Katherine
The myth of repressed memory
1996, St. Martin's Press, pbk: ISBN-10: 0312141238, ISBN-13: 978-0312141233
$11.59 [amazon.com / £11.03 [amazon.co.uk] {advert}
An antidote to the hysteria and accompanying irrational and dishonest literature that has been sweeping Anglo-Saxon society of recent years. Technically oriented. Loftus is a specialist in the functioning of human memory.


end notes

  1. It has been suggested that this may mean that memories shortly prior to an emotional experience are never laid down in the first place and are, therefore, not there to be repressed or otherwise. But, in my view, this goes beyond the data.

    Prior memories also tend to disappear under trauma. For example, it is common that a person who has been knocked out cannot recall a period before the impact, including the blow. It has also been suggested that E.C.T. (electroconvulsive ‘therapy’) acts by destroying prior unpleasant memories.

click to return to index on establishment psycho-bunk 4 - repressed memory page


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