Repressed Memories Are Back, Baby!



I’m sorry. Where is the evidence “repressed memory” theory is making a “come back” in the same reflexively social panic as it existed in times previous?

While I agree with Loftus, all I saw was in this piece was a quote about percentages of various professions that still “believe” in what you claim is this theory. But not to what degree, or for how long or under what conditions. Maybe some treat patients who themselves believe they may suffer from “repressed memories” not necessarily that those memories represent anything the happened but are symptomatic of some other clinical diagnoses. Since it’s still in popular consciousness it makes sense clinicians would still “treat” it. Like other delusions.

Anyway, I guess I’m fuzzy about this unproven thesis That this something we need to worry about.

I DID see a rather sneaky and stupid attempt to imply victims of Brett Kavanaugh were somehow associated with this debunked theory. Which: hahahaha.


Wondering if such quackery is still admissible in court, I found this:

In short; sometimes. Guh.


Gimme dat Christian side-PTSD



5 Pertinent.


Wasn't this, just recently, referred to as "The neurobiology of trauma" completely and thoroughly debunked?
Didn't it turn out that it was entirely made up in order to push a politically convenient narrative that both memory of AND lack of memory of sexual assault were both evidence that it was "more likely than not" (the preponderance standard) that the alleged sexual assault (and ONLY sexual assault - not regular old punched in the brain assault) occurred?


A lot of psychiatry and psychology is pure bullshit. There isn’t a single diagnosed case of MPD outside of the United States. It’s an easy act to pull off, just as the whole channeling thing is easy to pull off bullshit. It’s a way to get status without producing anything of value. JZ Knight went from Yelm Yokel to super rich, politically connected and rather influential by playing that card. Roll your eyes into the back of your head, talk in a deep voice, fake a seizure, and pretend you’re a different personality or a thousand year old god from Atlantis. It works, either way.

Repressed memory is a thing because much of psychiatry and psychology is quackery trying desperately to establish itself as real science. In that desperation, practitioners will try very hard to convince patients that they are sick and in need of care. And I guess, if you walk around with the same bag of anxieties and fears we all have, who are you to argue with a medical doctor telling you you’ve got a disease? Is your kid rambunctious and a little wild? Must be ADD. Give the kid speed. Who cares if it blows out their heart valves and the kid dies by the age of 40? At least you can manage their classroom behavior. Do you exhibit any quirk or eccentricity that other people find difficult to manage? Let’s electrocute your brain. But hey, at least we stopped lobotomizing everyone, so that means we’re a real branch of medicine now, right?

And on the Marianne Williamson end, we’ve got healing crystals mined from Madagascar under conditions that kill the poorest of the poor so you can have an amethyst geode. Burn some sagebrush and gesticulate while sonorously invoking the Great Spirit of the Yaqui tribe to bless your tarot deck. Never mind that you’re not a member of that or any other tribe, or that tarot and crystals aren’t part of their religion anyway, because the whole thing’s bullshit anyway. Besides, you looked it up in up your star chart, and it is trine!

If that’s not your particular brand of bullshit, check out the self-help book phenomenon. There’s only one country on Earth that sells more books of that genre, and it’s Argentina. Here in America, daily life is an endless quest for perfection and improvement. We meditate on the Secret to manifest our desires. If they fail to materialize, it’s only because you didn’t wish hard enough. You didn’t chant “I do believe in fairies” loud enough, and Tinkerbell fucking died. Feel better now?

All of this bullshit serves a purpose. It distracts you from the system that keeps you down so you won’t overthrow it. Your family has been locked in poverty for centuries, and you’re not breaking,out of it in your lifetime. Youve got nothing to lose by busting out of your chains and starting a revolution. So, we’ve got to keep that thought as far away from your mind as we can. And we’re going to do that by telling you you’ve got a disease that this drug we’re going to give you can treat, even though the side effects are you’ll never be able to focus on anything ever again. Or we’ve got this Ayurveda class where you can understand your misfortunes are part of your karma left over from a past life, which you can only reconcile by becoming increasingly passive and submissive to the system. Or, we can get you hooked on Norman Vincent Peale and the Power,of,Positive Thinking. Or Prayer. And if youre locked in lifetime poverty, that’s just because you don’t love Jesus enough. Give what little you have to Joel Osteen, and don’t stir up any trouble.


@7 Just because they re-branded magical thinking towards vulnerable and traumatized young people marketed by attractive sirens doing yoga on a nameless tropical island conflated with legalizing weed market culture, doesn't invalidate the phenomenon as a complete act rather than an illness. Some people go full lizard brain-stem in the face of trauma and hide in their memories, and although the science is a mere approximation, it is based on the collective witness and example of recurrent case studies. It is too easy to dismiss that great body of evidence and witness as mere hogwash because of the existence of published garbage.


I am currently dealing with recurring repressed traumatic (service connected) memories. Fortunately I have sufficient supportive evidence to my claims from over 28 years ago, and am grateful for all those who have been at my back. Music, Volkswagens (a particular one especially), and cats continue to be among my best forms of therapy.


@9 so we are clear: You are remembering a traumatic past event that you, for a period of time, did not no occurred? And whose existence you were only able to recall through the help of a mental health professional?


On an intellectual level I can appreciate that memory is a highly malleable thing, but man on an emotional level? I feel like reading this article was the equivalent of telling someone about my childhood abuse and them responding with “I don’t believe you.” Maybe it’s worth pointing out that a lot of these cases involved people under hypnosis being heavily lead by their counselors, otherwise it veers dangerously close to “assault victims are frequently making it up” territory. Also worth pointing out that everyone deals with trauma in their own way, and to make the claim that only people with trauma memories seared into their mind are valid victims feels like another potentially harmful sweeping statement.


Repressed memories are real. At my 13th birthday party, child protection services came to my house over an incident between my dad and me. I forgot about that and the incident until I was 19, when a person who was at the party mentioned to me how weird and uncomfortable that situation was.


Was just reading a review of a new theatrical play called "I Am Her," which was inspired by the playwright's sudden memory recovery of a trauma that had happened to her decades earlier. The first thing I thought of was


Was just reading a review of a new theatrical play called "I Am Her," which was inspired by the playwright's sudden memory recovery of a trauma that had happened to her decades earlier. The first thing I thought of was "recovered memory is back!" I sought out a profile of the playwright and it read like something from the era Ms. Herzog references. Great piece.

(Please disregard my half-written comment above. This is the real comment!)


psychology isn’t a real science but people sure like to pretend it is


"I’m sorry. Where is the evidence “repressed memory” theory is making a “come back” in the same reflexively social panic as it existed in times previous?"

ell, it's being used to great effect in the current "all sex work is trafficking" hysteria by prosecutors, police and rescue industry profiteers to over-speak the vast majority of sex worker who state they are not trafficked, were not molested as children, did not enter prostitution at 13 and chose to do sex work by choice.

Essentially a group of marginalized women who are denied agency so law enforcement can get into the business of policing our sex lives.

Nut-job Deb Boyer from OPS was involved in the now discredited Washington State "repressed memory" studies back the early 1980's used to make claims of satanic church daycare sex rings (that sounds like a ridiculous South Park skit to the modern reader, but was a view heavily supported by the largely uninformed law enforcement community at the time).
After she because a laughing stock unable to find work in research through most of the 1990 and early 2000's, Deb's discredited repressed memory research has come back into fashion with prosecutor's Pete Holmes and Dan Satterberg who needed a way to create victim in the sex work community to justify arrests and the enormous waste of resources where few actual victims existed and where the do did not see be arrested as a solution.
The repressed memory lie has become a popular way for police and prosecutor's to once again ignore the agency of adult women who make choices they find morally upsetting.
Whenever a 40 or 50 year old sex worker they arrest does not agree to their pre-formed narrative, they just say

"Oh she's a traffic victim alright. She was raped as a child and entered prostitution at 13. She just doesn't remember it due to repressed memory."

That's the thing about witch hunts like the satanic daycare cults of the 80's, the actual witch hunts of the 1600's or the current hysteria driven war on sex workers. The moral panics are only recognized as a ridiculous witch hunt after the hysteria has passed and left thousands of innocent lives in ruins. Meanwhile, those in authority profit of the fear and bigotry that keeps them in power.


@7 "Repressed memory is a thing because much of psychiatry and psychology is quackery trying desperately to establish itself as real science."

Psychiatry is a branch of medicine, and it is a real science..

There have been huge advancements in Psychiatry since the early 1980s, especially in Pharmcology in the treatment of mental illnesses. The advancements in treating schizophrenia are very impressive.

Most Psychiatrists are pretty careful in how they diagnose patients, how they treat their patients, and like many Physicians, try to keep up to date in the advancement in medicine. The ABPN is a pretty respectable Medical Board.

There is always going to be hysteria movements. Salem Witch Trials, the 1950s Red Scare, Post 9/11 fear of Arabs and other ethnic groups. There is always going to the Dr. Ozes out there, who go against the Hippocratic Oath. However, Psychiatry isn't Quackery. Actually the head of Quackwatch, Dr. Stephen Barrett is a retired Psychiatrist.


Ms. Herzog, you forgot to mention another book that influenced the Repressed Memory Movement, "A Courage to Heal"..


18- Thanks was just about to bring that up.



Dr Paul R McHugh is the Distinguished Service Psychiatry Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. adding to him, homosexuality is curable through electroshock therapy.

Now, what was that you were saying about psychiatry being a legitimate branch of medicine?


@20. ROFL!!! you are talking about a retired Psychiatrist who is like 90 or so years old. It is like digging up a fossil. His medical school background is from the early 1950s.

The key is what the APA removed homosexuality as a mental health issue in 1973 from the DSM. Pretty much all ABPN Board Members condone homosexual behavior. Electroshock therapy is not used on a person because they are gay circa 2019.

You point was that Psychiatry is quackery. It isn't quackery. Some of the biggest quacks out there may be bona fide medical doctors like Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, but it doesn't mean the medical field that uses peer review scientific studies is quackery..

Many Gay men have been tortured in the decades because of their sexuality by Medical Doctors, including psychiatrists, However since 1973, Psychiatrists have not listed homosexuality as a mental health issue.



Shrek is love, shrek is life.


You're quoting Elizabeth Loftus as some sort of expert? She's an unethical hack, forced to leave UW for ruining a woman's life. She went so far as to "out" an anonymized case study written up in a medical journal.



You used the phrase ‘condone homosexual behavior’. That’s pretty revealing about your own sentiments.

I don’t think anyone ever says someone else condones something good or positive, do they? Nobody says they “condone asking a CPR course”, or that someone “condones rescuing puppies and kittens”. I’ve only hear$ the word ever used to indicate that the behavior being approved of is negative.

Are you sure you’re the best advocate for psychiatry if that’s how you opt to defend it? I’m not condoning your abilities as a salesperson for ideas, by the way.


A friend knows that the therapy she went through in the 80s installed some false and horrific memories of being sexually assaulted by two relatives. When her memories were investigated, the times and places this stuff supposedly happened were provably impossible, and the people supposedly involved had absolutely no record of anything like the kind of horrific attitudes required for doing some of the things in her "recovered" memories. So there was lots of evidence the memories were false, and no evidence at all they were true.

She knows they're fake memories, but they still feel real to her, and they still shadow her life, all these years later. The therapist, when confronted with the actual facts, said that the memories had to be real, and that the facts must have been manufactured to protect the assailants. She never apologized for the damage she caused.

The mental health industry accepted very little blame for the thousands of lives they messed up, and the professors who taught "repressed memory" as if it were backed up by research (it was not) kept their jobs and just quietly changed what they taught once the hideous results became clear.

Given the history of crackpot ideas and very poorly run "research" in the mental health industry (very little of the research in their professional journals can be replicated, it turns out), it's not at all a surprise that they've resurrected "recovered memories" and have begun inflicting it on patients again. Most psychology is more like theology than science, and it's practitioners are more like members of different (and sometimes warring) religious groups than any fact-based profession. A lot of my friends have been damaged by therapists, not helped.


Oh, oh yeah?? How do you explain Chris Gaines, then!? I'll wait.

You can't, can you? You got nothing! Check and mate. It's science.


@9 Actually, it did occur, Sporty. I blocked out the traumatic experience when re-entering civilian society after my one enlistment. Now, in my mid-fifties, I am dealing with vivid, haunting recurring memories and chronic service connected body pain. During my service years I had reported everything that happened through my chain of command, but no action was taken against the perpetrators, despite the evidence. I am among the fortunate, however: my PTSD therapist, doctors, and the VA support my claim and I am on my way to healing and finding peace.


@15 blip: We usually agree, but I have to disagree with you here. I am a Gulf War veteran on disability dealing with service-connected PTSD. Psychology is a neurological science and what I experienced during wartime was indeed, real.


@17 "There have been huge advancements in Psychiatry since the early 1980s, especially in Pharmcology in the treatment of mental illnesses. The advancements in treating schizophrenia are very impressive." Yup. In the 1980s, antipsychotics like thorazine and Haldol relieved the worst symptoms of schizophrenia but caused lethargy and permanent brain damage leading to Parkinsonian-like tardive dyskenesia. Now we have atypical antipsychotics like risperidone (Risperdal) which relieve the worst symptoms of schizophrenia and do not cause lethargy. But they also cause obesity, result in diabetes, cause men to grow breasts, and oh yeah, in some patients, still cause permanent brain damage leading to Parkinsonian-like tardive dyskenesia. Plus, these atypicals have been over prescribed to millions of children and adolescents whose round-peg behavior "problems" don't fit our square hole society, pushed by big pharma sales reps encouraging off-label use of atypicals as mood stabilizers and for impulse control.

Yes, psychiatry is a science and yes we have growing understanding of neuroscience, but like much of medical science, it has a long way to go yet. And our capitalist pharma industrialist complex in bed with under-regulation by FDA often makes things worse in terms of treatment. FDA requires new drug vs. placebo clinical trials, not new drug vs. existing treatment.


@28 AuntieGriz Sorry to hear of your trauma and ongoing disability. Your comments are always so thoughtful and considerate, a gem on SLOG!

@9 On forgetting significant and traumatic events: I read about a study where the researchers went through a hospital to find records from decades ago of pre-pubescent children who had been treated for sexually transmitted infections. Can't find it now but if I remember correctly (!), they tracked down the people as adults and asked them for their memories. Many did not remember the abuse. Some did.

This isn't the same as recovering memory but it does prove that Loftus is exaggerating when she says significant / bodily events are always burned into one's memory. What all the research shows is that our memories can't be trusted: real traumatic events can be forgotten, false traumatic memories can be created, and even when we remember with some accuracy the details are highly malleable (as Loftus says). Things are never all-or-none though: The more repeated the trauma, the less likely it will be repressed.


@24 You are constantly changing the narrative. First that Psychiatry is quackery. Second, one Psychiatrist who was a vehement homophobe from the 1950s, and now my language and the use of "condone".

Compare to real quackery like Chiropractors. Psychiatry is a branch of medicine that is science based medicine. Whether it is controversial, still has difficulty in treating mental illness and mental health issues, it is still science based medicine..


**Chris Gaines, née 'Chewbacca defense.'




And you dodged the question.

What the he’ll do you mean, condone homosexual behavior?


This article is one-sided and vastly oversimplifies a complex issue. Unfortunately, people have gone to extremes on both sides. For an understanding of traumatic memory, read "The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel van der Kolk. Elizabeth Loftus is not an expert on trauma or sexual abuse. It is interesting that she testified in support of the Boston pedophile priest Paul Shanley who was eventually convicted.


@33 AHAHAHA!!! Oh, Mr. Circular Logic. You got your poor ass spanked!!! How are you backing up your statement that "Psychiatry is quackery"?!?! Yeah, Run away! Mr. I have to revert to lame arguments Stars..



I’m sorry, but I don’t believe you answered my question.

What do you mean by condone?


@37 What do you mean by quackery?

I don't have to answer your question. The APA, the DSM and ABPN have accepted Homosexuality as normal behavior since 1973..