Mar 21 2013

Scheflin, A. W., & Brown, D. Repressed memory or dissociative amnesia: What the science says.

Published by at 6:52 pm under Counseling & Psychotherapy

This is part of my research, but I thought anyone following my blog may be interested in this.
Scheflin, A. W., & Brown, D. Repressed memory or dissociative amnesia: What the science says.

Abstract: “Legal actions of alleged abuse victims based on recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) have been challenged arguing that the concept of repressed memories does not meet a generally accepted standard of science. A recent review of the scientific literature on amnesia for CSA concluded that the evidence was insufficient. The issues revolve around: (1) the existence of amnesia for CSA, and (2) the accuracy of recovered memories. A total of 25 studies on amnesia for CSA now exist, all of which demonstrate amnesia in a subpopulation; no study failed to find it, including recent studies with design improvements such as random sampling and prospective designs that address weaknesses in earlier studies. A reasonable conclusion is that amnesia for CSA is a robust finding across studies using very different samples and methods of assessment. Studies addressing the accuracy of memories show that recovered memories are no more or no less accurate than continuous memories for abuse. Excerpts: “Even more significantly, no study has surfaced that refutes the dissociative amnesia hypothesis by failing to get reports of inability to voluntarily recall repeated childhood abuse (pp.145-146).
“Most scientific studies can be criticized for methodological weaknesses, but such design limitations should not obscure the fact that the data reported across every one of the 25 studies demonstrate that either partial or full abuse-specific amnesia, either for single incidents of childhood sexual abuse or across multiple incidents of childhood sexual abuse, is a robust finding. Partial or full amnesia was found across studies regardless of whether the sample was clinical, nonclinical, random or non-random, or whether the study was retrospective or prospective. Every known study has found amnesia for childhood sexual abuse in at least a portion of the sampled individuals (pp.178-179, italics in original).
“These studies, when placed together, meet the test of science – namely, that the finding holds up across quite a number of independent experiments, each with different samples, each assessing the target variables in a variety of different ways, and each arriving at a similar conclusion. When multiple samples and multiple sampling methods are used, the error rate across studies is reduced. Even where a small portion of these cases of reported amnesia may be associated with abuse that may not have occurred or at least could not be substantiated, the great preponderance of the evidence strongly suggests that at least some subpopulation of sexually abused survivors experiences a period of full or partial amnesia for the abuse. Moreover, a significant portion of these amnestic subjects, at least in some of the studies, later acquired some form of corroboration of the abuse (p.179).

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