What are some common claims regarding recovered memory?
“Child abuse is not necessarily traumatic or significant. Thus, recovered memories of such events can be explained by regular forgetting.”
This is a very particular argument proposed by people who argue that the childhood sexual abuse is not upsetting to the child, non-significant, and non-traumatic in nature. Following this argument, the mechanism involved in memories of abuse previously unavailable to consciousness being recovered is not a traumatic mechanism, but instead is the same ordinary mechanism as regular forgetfulness. Thus, proponents argue that the classification of “recovered memories” should not be distinct from normal “temporarily forgotten” memories.
“Memories can’t be completely unavailable and then suddenly recovered. The person just chose not to think about it.”
How do we know a memory is actually unavailable to consciousness before being recovered – rather than actively avoided and ignored, simply not thought about, or subject to non-traumatic ordinary forgetfulness mentioned in the previous claim [link]? Brown et al. describe such claims as shifting “focus away from doubting the existence of repressed memories and toward debating about its explanation.”
“Recovered memories are created by therapists. Thousands of therapists are searching for ‘recovered memories.”
Recovered memories are not created by therapists. A scientific study found that a large majority of recovered memories are recovered outside of therapy. Two studies found that when recovered in therapy, there is no evidence that memories were fostered by therapists.
“Recovered memory claims are due to mass hysteria. They only occur in a specific time and place.”
Arguments along these lines claim that cases of recovered memory only occurred in the United States during a particular decade of mass hysteria (Usually stated to be around 1980-1995), and as such are due to a socially constructed phenomena. This is simply untrue - cases of recovered memory occurred before the 1980’s, occurred after the year 2000, and occurred outside the US.
“There’s no scientific evidence supporting recovered memories.”
An expansive list of research refuting this claim can be found on our [link] SUPPORTIVE RESEARCH PAGE. Examples of scientific support involve two robust studies on recovered memories in the general population and Betrayal Trauma Theory.