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Controversy

The controversy around recovered memory focuses on whether or not recovered memories are trustworthy. Despite evidence supporting the phenomenon of recovered memories, some people believe that it is impossible to completely forget and later recover a memory. Others believe the content of recovered memories is inaccurate, or that only certain types of memories can be recovered.

Due to the traumatic nature of some recovered memories, our trust in recovered memories can greatly influence judicial cases, interpersonal relationships, and individual’s lives. Many of the people whose voice had a significant impact on the political climate surrounding recovered memory have a significant stake in this issue; such as those who’ve been accused of abuse, those who’ve recovered memories, and their families, friends, therapists, and lawyers.

Archive

Corroborated cases of recovered memory have been observed in legal, clinical, and other settings, with a variety of corroborating factors from documentary physical evidence to perpetrator confession. This archive compiles a selection of these cases, focusing on those with significant corroborating evidence. It is intended to serve as a resource for journalists, scholars, and students searching for examples of corroborated cases of recovered memory, and to challenge faulty claims that such documented cases do not exist.

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FAQ

“What is recovered memory?”

Sivers, Schooler, and Freyd (2002, p 169) define recovered memory as: “The recollection of a memory that is perceived to have been unavailable for some period of time.” The content of recovered memories can range from regular and mundane to intense and distressing. Forgetting where you put your keys and later remembering their location is one example of a relatively mundane recovered memory. However, the phrase is colloquially associated with recovering memories of traumatic events, such as childhood abuse, witnessing violence, or personal injuries. The emotionally charged nature of such events and their impact on personal lives has fueled an intense controversy on the topic.

“What is the controversy around recovered memory?”

The controversy around recovered memory focuses on whether or not recovered memories are trustworthy. Despite evidence supporting the phenomenon of recovered memories, some people believe that it is impossible to completely forget and later recover a memory. Others believe the content of recovered memories is inaccurate, or that only certain types of memories can be recovered. Due to the traumatic nature of some recovered memories, our trust in recovered memories can greatly influence judicial cases, interpersonal relationships, and individual’s lives. Many of the people whose voice had a significant impact on the political climate surrounding recovered memory have a significant stake in this issue; such as those who’ve been accused of abuse, those who’ve recovered memories, and their families, friends, therapists, and lawyers.

“What is the difference between recovered memories and false memories?”

Dr. Jennifer Freyd has described memory through two independent dimensions: Memory accuracy (historically true vs. historically false) and memory persistence (available vs. unavailable memories). Continuous memories are those which can always be recollected, and discontinuous memories are those which cannot be recollected during a certain period of one’s life, but can be recalled again at a later time. Oftentimes, these dimensions are conflated; arguments such as ‘recovered memories (discontinuous memories) are false memories’ is an example of conflation. Instead, these dimensions are independent. Discontinuous memories can be true or false, just as continuous memories can be true or false. A detailed description of these dimensions can be found on Dr. Jennifer Freyd’s website, under ‘Recovered Memory: Context and Controversy’ and ‘Two Common conceptual tangles about recovered memories.’ https://pages.uoregon.edu/dynamic/jjf/whatabout.html

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