Recovered Memories and Dissociative Amnesia – Scientific Evidence and Accuracy Rates

October 8, 2019 Comments Off on Recovered Memories and Dissociative Amnesia – Scientific Evidence and Accuracy Rates

Recovered Memories and Dissociative Amnesia – Scientific Evidence and Accuracy Rates

Recovered Memories

Recovered memories have been defined as the phenomenon of partially or fully losing parts of memories of traumatic events, and then later recovering part or all of the memories into conscious awareness. They have also been defined as the recollections of memories that are believed to have been unavailable for a certain period of time. There is very strong scientific evidence that recovered memories exist.This has been shown in many scientific studies. The content of recovered memories have fairly high corroboration rates.

Scientific evidence

There are many studies that have proven that the recovered memories of traumatic events exist. Brown, Scheflin and Hammond found 43 studies that showed recovered memories for traumatic events. The Recovered Memory Project has collected 101 corroborated cases of recovered memories. Hopper’s research shows that amnesia for childhood sexual abuse is “beyond dispute.” He states that “at least 10% of people sexually abused in childhood will have periods of complete amnesia for their abuse, followed by experiences of delayed recall” In one study of women with previously documented histories of sexual abuse, 38% of the women did not remember the abuse that had happened 17 years before. Most recovered memories either precede therapy or the use of memory recovery techniques. One studied showed that five out of 19 women with histories of familial sexual abuse either forgot specific details or had “blank periods” for these memories. Another study showed that “40% reported a period of forgetting some or all of the abuse”. Herman and Harvey’s study showed that 16% of abuse survivors had “complete amnesia followed by delayed recall”. Corwin’s individual case study provides evidence of the existence of recovered memories on videotape.

Other researchers state:

Research has shown that traumatized individuals respond by using a variety of psychological mechanisms. One of the most common means of dealing with the pain is to try and push it out of awareness. Some label the phenomenon of the process whereby the mind avoids conscious acknowledgment of traumatic experiences as dissociative amnesia. Others use terms such as repression, dissociative state, traumatic amnesia, psychogenic shock, or motivated forgetting. Semantics aside, there is near-universal scientific acceptance of the fact that the mind is capable of avoiding conscious recall of traumatic experiences.

A body of empirical evidence indicates that it is common for abused children to reach adulthood without conscious awareness of the trauma.

There is scientific evidence in support of the phenomena of dissociation and recovered memory in Holocaust survivors.

Corroboration rates

Many studies show high corroboration rates for recovered memories of traumatic events. These rates vary from 50 – 75%, 64%, 77%, 50%, 75%, 68%,47%, and 70% . One study showed amnesia in 12 murderers, with “objective evidence of severe abuse…obtained in 11 cases”. There are also additional studies showing the corroboration of recovered memories.

https://childabusewiki.org/index.php?title=Recovered_Memories

Brown, Scheflin, & Whitfield. (1999). Recovered Memories: The Current Weight of the Evidence in Science and in the Courts Journal of Psychiatry & Law, 27, 5-156. “Brown, Scheflin and Hammond reviewed 43 studies relevant to the subject of traumatic memory and found that every study that examined the question of dissociative amnesia in traumatized populations demonstrated that a substantial minority partially or completely forget the traumatic event experienced, and later recover memories of the event. By 1999, over 68 studies had been published that document dissociative amnesia after childhood sexual abuse. In fact, no study that has looked for evidence of traumatic or dissociative amnesia after child sexual abuse has failed to find it.”

http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/tm/prev.html

110 Corroborated Cases of Recovered Memory:  http://blogs.brown.edu/recoveredmemory/case-archive/

Research discussing corroboration and accuracy of recovered memories  https://pages.uoregon.edu/dynamic/jjf/suggestedrefs.html

Recall of childhood trauma: a prospective study of women’s memories of child sexual abuse.

One hundred twenty-nine women with previously documented histories of sexual victimization in childhood were interviewed and asked detailed questions about their abuse histories to answer the question “Do people actually forget traumatic events such as child sexual abuse, and if so, how common is such forgetting?” A large proportion of the women (38%) did not recall the abuse that had been reported 17 years earlier. Women who were younger at the time of the abuse and those who were molested by someone they knew were more likely to have no recall of the abuse. The implications for research and practice are discussed. Long periods with no memory of abuse should not be regarded as evidence that the abuse did not occur.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7860814

Research on the Effect of Trauma on Memory

Research has shown that traumatized individuals respond by using a variety of psychological mechanisms. One of the most common means of dealing with the pain is to try and push it out of awareness. Some label the phenomenon of the process whereby the mind avoids conscious acknowledgment of traumatic experiences as dissociative amnesia .  Others use terms such as repression , dissociative state , traumatic amnesia, psychogenic shock, or motivated forgetting .  Semantics aside, there is near-universal scientific acceptance of the fact that the mind is capable of avoiding conscious recall of traumatic experiences. http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/tm/tm.html

Memory disturbances and dissociative amnesia in Holocaust survivors

The following articles provide compelling scientific evidence in support of the phenomena of dissociation and recovered memory in Holocaust survivors. In addition to supporting the phenomenon in general, these articles also counter the argument that recovered memory is (a) no more than a recent cultural “fad” and (b) specific to false accusers of sexual abuse.  http://blogs.brown.edu/recoveredmemory/scholarly-resources/holocaust/

Dissociation & the Fragmentary Nature of Traumatic Memories: Overview & Exploratory Study

“a systematic exploratory study of 46 subjects with PTSD which indicates that traumatic memories are retrieved, at least initially, in the form of dissociated mental imprints of sensory and affective elements of the traumatic experience: as visual, olfactory, affective, auditory and kinesthetic experiences. Over time, subjects reported the gradual emergence of a personal narrative that some believe can be properly referred to as “explicit memory”….Of the 35 subjects with childhood trauma, 15 (43%) had suffered significant, or total amnesia for their trauma at some time of their lives. Twenty seven of the 35 subjects with childhood trauma (77%) reported confirmation of their childhood trauma.”http://www.trauma-pages.com/a/vanderk2.php

Kluft, RP (1995). The confirmation and disconfirmation of memories of abuse in Dissociative Identity Disorder patients: A naturalistic study. Dissociation 8: 253-8. “Nineteen, or 56%, had instances of the confirmation of recalled abuses. Ten of the 19, or 53%, had always recalled the abuses that were confirmed. However, 13 of the 19, or 68%, obtained documentation of events that were recovered in the course of therapy, usually with the use of hypnosis. Three patients, or 9%, had instances in which the inaccuracy of their recollection could be demonstrated.”

https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1794/1155/Diss_8_4_9_OCR_rev.pdf

Leadership Council Amicus Brief Appellant on Appeal from a Judgment of the Superior Court Brief of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court SJC No. 10382 AC No. 2007-p-0886 Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Appellee V. Paul Shanley, Leadership Council as Amicus Curiae

http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/docs/ShanleyBrief.pdf

Recovered Memories of Child Abuse: Accuracy and Veracity, 110 Corroborated Cases of Recovered Memory

November 4, 2014 Comments Off on Recovered Memories of Child Abuse: Accuracy and Veracity, 110 Corroborated Cases of Recovered Memory

110 Corroborated Cases of Recovered Memory:

53 Cases from Legal Proceedings
25 Clinical Cases and other Academic/Scientific Case Studies
33 Other Corroborated Cases of Recovered Memory
http://blogs.brown.edu/recoveredmemory/case-archive/

Recovered Memories of Sexual Abuse  Scientific Research & Scholarly Resources

Amnesia for childhood sexual abuse is a condition.
The existence of this condition is beyond dispute.
Repression is merely one explanation
– often a confusing and misleading one –
for what causes the condition of amnesia.
Some people sexually abused in childhood
will have periods of amnesia for their abuse,
followed by experiences of delayed recall.
http://www.jimhopper.com/memory/

Research on the Effect of Trauma on Memory
Research has shown that traumatized individuals respond by using a variety of psychological mechanisms. One of the most common means of dealing with the pain is to try and push it out of awareness. Some label the phenomenon of the process whereby the mind avoids conscious acknowledgment of traumatic experiences as dissociative amnesia .  Others use terms such as repression , dissociative state , traumatic amnesia, psychogenic shock, or motivated forgetting .  Semantics aside, there is near-universal scientific acceptance of the fact that the mind is capable of avoiding conscious recall of traumatic experiences.
http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/tm/tm.html

What about Recovered Memories?
Jennifer J. Freyd, University of Oregon
http://pages.uoregon.edu/dynamic/jjf/whatabout.html

The Recovered Memory Project
http://blogs.brown.edu/recoveredmemory

Research discussing corroboration and accuracy of recovered memories
http://pages.uoregon.edu/dynamic/jjf/suggestedrefs.html

Recovered memory corroboration rates
“Between 31 and 64 percent of abuse survivors in six major studies reported that they forgot “some of the abuse.” Numbers reporting severe amnesia ranged from under 12% to 59%….Studies report 50-75% of abuse survivors corroborating the facts of their abuse through an outside source.”
https://ritualabuse.us/research/memory-fms/recovered-memory-corroboration-rates/

Memory disturbances and dissociative amnesia in Holocaust survivors http://blogs.brown.edu/recoveredmemory/scholarly-resources/holocaust/
The following articles provide compelling scientific evidence in support of the phenomena of dissociation and recovered memory in Holocaust survivors.

Recovered Memory Data
https://ritualabuse.us/research/memory-fms/recovered-memory-data/

Recovered Memories – Child Abuse Wiki

Recovered memories have been defined as the phenomenon of partially or fully losing parts of memories of traumatic events, and then later recovering part or all of the memories into conscious awareness. They have also been defined as the recollections of memories that are believed to have been unavailable for a certain period of time[1]. There is very strong scientific evidence that recovered memories exist.[2] This has been shown in many scientific studies. The content of recovered memories have fairly high corroboration rates.

Scientific evidence
There are many studies that have proven that the recovered memories of traumatic events exist. Brown, Scheflin and Hammond found 43 studies that showed recovered memories for traumatic events[3]. The Recovered Memory Project has collected 101 corroborated cases of recovered memories[4]. Hopper’s research shows that amnesia for childhood sexual abuse is “beyond dispute.” He states that “at least 10% of people sexually abused in childhood will have periods of complete amnesia for their abuse, followed by experiences of delayed recall” [5] In one study of women with previously documented histories of sexual abuse, 38% of the women did not remember the abuse that had happened 17 years before.[6] Most recovered memories either precede therapy or the use of memory recovery techniques[7]. One studied showed that five out of 19 women with histories of familial sexual abuse either forgot specific details or had “blank periods” for these memories[8]. Another study showed that “40% reported a period of forgetting some or all of the abuse”[9]. Herman and Harvey’s study showed that 16% of abuse survivors had “complete amnesia followed by delayed recall”[10]. Corwin’s individual case study provides evidence of the existence of recovered memories on videotape[11].

Other researchers state:

Research has shown that traumatized individuals respond by using a variety of psychological mechanisms. One of the most common means of dealing with the pain is to try and push it out of awareness. Some label the phenomenon of the process whereby the mind avoids conscious acknowledgment of traumatic experiences as dissociative amnesia. Others use terms such as repression, dissociative state, traumatic amnesia, psychogenic shock, or motivated forgetting. Semantics aside, there is near-universal scientific acceptance of the fact that the mind is capable of avoiding conscious recall of traumatic experiences.[12]

A body of empirical evidence indicates that it is common for abused children to reach adulthood without conscious awareness of the trauma[13]

There is scientific evidence in support of the phenomena of dissociation and recovered memory in Holocaust survivors.[14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36]

Corroboration rates
Many studies show high corroboration rates for recovered memories of traumatic events. These rates vary from 50 – 75%[37], 64%[13], 77%[38], 50%[39], 75%[40] 68%[41] 47%[9], and 70% [42]. One study showed amnesia in 12 murderers, with “objective evidence of severe abuse…obtained in 11 cases”[43]. There are also additional studies showing the corroboration of recovered memories[44][45][46][47].

excerpt used with permission from http://childabusewiki.org/index.php?title=Recovered_Memories

Traumatic memory: memory disturbances and dissociative amnesia

June 23, 2011 Comments Off on Traumatic memory: memory disturbances and dissociative amnesia

The following articles provide compelling scientific evidence in support of the phenomena of dissociation and recovered memory.

Included are cases involving survivors of childhood abuse, survivors of the Holocaust, and war veterans.

In addition to supporting the phenomenon in general, these articles also counter the argument that recovered memory is (a) no more than a recent cultural “fad” and (b) specific to false accusers of sexual abuse.

http://blogs.brown.edu/recoveredmemory/scholarly-resources/traumatic-memory/

excerpts:
Bremner, J. D., Krystal, J. H., Charney, D. S., & Southwick, S. M. (1996). Neural mechanisms in dissociative amnesia for childhood abuse: Relevance to the current controversy surrounding the “false memory syndrome.” The American Journal of Psychiatry, 153, 71-82.

….CONCLUSIONS: John Nemiah pointed out several years ago that alterations in memory in the form of dissociative amnesia are an important part of exposure to traumatic stressors, such as childhood abuse. The studies reviewed here show that extreme stress has long-term effects on memory. These findings may provide a model for understanding the mechanisms involved in dissociative amnesia, as well as a rationale for phenomena such as delayed recall of childhood abuse.

….Briere, J., & Conte, J. R. (1993, January). Self-reported amnesia for abuse in adults molested as children. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 6(1), 21-31.

….A sample of 450 adult clinical subjects reporting sexual abuse histories were studied regarding their repression of sexual abuse incidents. A total of 267 subjects (59.3%) identified some period in their lives, before age 18, when they had no memory of their abuse. Variables most predictive of abuse-related amnesia were greater current psychological symptoms, molestation at an early age, extended abuse, and variables reflecting especially violent abuse

….Chu, J. A., Frey, L. M., Ganzel, B. L., & Matthews, J. A. (1999, May). Memories of childhood abuse: Dissociation, amnesia, and corroboration. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 156(5), 749-755.

….Childhood abuse, particularly chronic abuse beginning at early ages, is related to the development of high levels of dissociative symptoms including amnesia for abuse memories. This study strongly suggests that psychotherapy usually is not associated with memory recovery and that independent corroboration of recovered memories of abuse is often present.

….DeWind, E. (1968). The confrontation with death. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 49, 302-305.

Excerpt: “Most former inmates of Nazi concentration camps could not remember anything of the first days of imprisonment because perception of reality was so overwhelming that it would lead to a mental chaos which implies a certain death.”

….Durlacher, G. L. (1991). De zoektocht [The search]. Amsterdam: Meulenhoff.

Dutch sociologist Durlacher, a survivor of Birkenau, describes his search for and meetings with another 20 child survivors from this camp. Excerpt: “Misha….looks helplessly at me and admits hesitantly that the period in the camps is wiped out from his brain….With each question regarding the period between December 12, 1942 till May 7, 1945, he admits while feeling embarrassed that he cannot remember anything….Jindra…had to admit that he remembers almost nothing from his years in the camps….From the winter months of 1944 until just before the liberation in April 1945, only two words stayed with him: Dora and Nordhausen

….Elliott, D. M., & Briere, J. (1995, October). Posttraumatic stress associated with delayed recall of sexual abuse: A general population study. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 8(4), 629-647. (Child Abuse Crisis Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA.)

Abstract: This study examined delayed recall of childhood sexual abuse in a stratified random sample of the general population (N = 505). Of participants who reported a history of sexual abuse, 42% described some period of time when they had less memory of the abuse than they did at the time of data collection. No demographic differences were found between subjects with continuous recall and those who reported delayed recall. However, delayed recall was associated with the use of threats at the time of the abuse.

….Feldman-Summers, S., Pope, K. S. (1994, June). The experience of “forgetting” childhood abuse: A national survey of psychologists. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62(3), 636-639.

Abstract: A national sample of psychologists were asked whether they had been abused as children and, if so, whether they had ever forgotten some or all of the abuse. Almost a quarter of the sample (23.9%) reported childhood abuse, and of those, approximately 40% reported a period of forgetting some or all of the abuse. The major findings were that (1) both sexual and nonsexual abuse were subject to periods of forgetting; (2) the most frequently reported factor related to recall was being in therapy; (3) approximately one half of those who reported forgetting also reported corroboration of the abuse….

Herman, J. L., & Harvey, M. R. (1997). Adult memories of childhood trauma: a naturalistic clinical study. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 10(4), 557-571.

Abstract: The clinical evaluations of 77 adult psychiatric outpatients reporting memories of childhood trauma were reviewed. A majority of patients reported some degree of continuous recall. Roughly half (53%) said they had never forgotten the traumatic events. Two smaller groups described a mixture of continuous and delayed recall (17%) or a period of complete amnesia followed by delayed recall (16%).

….Krell, R. (1993). Child survivors of the Holocaust: Strategies of adaptation. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 38, 384-389.

Excerpt: “The most pervasive preoccupation of child survivors is the continuing struggle with memory, whether there is too much or too little….For a child survivor today, an even more vexing problem is the intrusion of fragments of memory—most are emotionally powerful and painful but make no sense. They seem to become more frequent with time and are triggered by thousands of subtle or not so subtle events

….Kuch, K., & Cox, B. J. (1992). Symptoms of PTSD in 124 survivors of the Holocaust. American Journal of Psychiatry, 149, 337-340.

Potential subjects with confirmed or suspected organicity, bipolar or obsessive compulsive disorder were excluded. One group (N=78) had been detained in various concentration camps for greater than 1 month. A second group (N=20) had been detained in Auschwitz and had been tattooed. A third group (N=45) had not been in labor camps, ghettos, or had hidden in the illegal underground. Psychogenic amnesia was found in 3.2% of the totals sample, in 3.8 of the general concentration camp survivors, and in 10% of tattooed survivors of Auschwitz. 17.7% (N=22) of the total sample had received psychotherapy.

….Loftus, E. F., Polonsky, S., & Fullilove, M. T. (1994, March). Memories of childhood sexual abuse: Remembering and repressing. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18(1), 67-84. (University of Washington, Psychology Department, Seattle, WA.)

Abstract: Women involved in outpatient treatment for substance abuse were interviewed to examine their recollections of childhood sexual abuse. Overall, 54% of the 105 women reported a history of childhood sexual abuse. Of these, the majority (81%) remembered all or part of the abuse their whole lives; 19% reported they forgot the abuse for a period of time, and later the memory returned.

….Melchert, T. P. (1996, October). Childhood memory and a history of different forms of abuse. Professional Psychology: Research & Practice, 27(5), 438-446. (Texas Tech University, Department of Psychology, Lubbock, TX.)

Abstract: A widespread professional and public controversy has recently emerged regarding recovered memories of child sexual abuse, but the prevalence and nature of these memories have received limited empirical examination. This study (N = 553 nonclinical participants) found that very similar proportions of those with histories of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse reported that they had periods without memory of their abuse (21%, 18%, and 18%, respectively).

….Musaph, H. (1993). Het post-concentratiekampsyndroom [The post-concentration camp syndrome]. Maandblad Geestelijke volksgezondheid [Dutch Journal of Mental Health], 28(5), 207-217.

Amnesia exists for certain Holocaust experiences, while other experiences are extremely well remembered.

….van der Hart, O., Bolt, H., & van der Kolk, B. A. (2005). Memory fragmentation in dissociative identity disorder. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 6(1), 55-70. (Department of Clinical Psychology, Utrecht University, the Netherlands.)

Abstract: This study examined the quality of self-reported memories of traumatic experiences in participants with dissociative identity disorder (DID) and compared them with their memories of non-traumatic, but emotionally significant life experiences. Systematic interview data were gathered from 30 DID patients in The Netherlands. All participants reported a history of severe childhood abuse; 93.3% reported some period of amnesia for the index traumatic event, and 33.3% reported periods of amnesia for significant non-traumatic childhood experiences. All participants who had been amnestic for their trauma reported that their memories were initially retrieved in the form of somatosensory flashbacks. This suggests that, like PTSD patients, DID patients at least initially recall their trauma not as a narrative, but as somatosensory re-experiencing.

….Wagenaar, W. A., & Groeneweg, J. (1990). The memory of concentration camp survivors. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 4, 77-87.

Abstract: This study is concerned with the question whether extremely emotional experiences, such as being the victim of Nazi concentration camps, leave traces in memory that cannot be extinguished. Relevant data were obtained from testimony by 78 witnesses in a case against Marinus De Rijke, who was accused of Nazi crimes in Camp Erika in The Netherlands. The testimonies were collected in the periods 1943–1947 and 1984–1987. A comparison between these two periods reveals the amount of forgetting that occurred in 40 years. Results show that camp experiences were generally well-remembered, although specific but essential details were forgotten. Among these were forgetting being maltreated, forgetting names and appearance of the torturers, and forgetting being a witness to murder.

….Williams, L. M. (1994, December). Recall of childhood trauma: A prospective study of women’s memories of child sexual abuse. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62(6), 1167-1176. (University of New Hampshire, Family Research Lab, Durham, NH.)

Abstract: One hundred twenty-nine women with previously documented histories of sexual victimization in childhood were interviewed and asked detailed questions about their abuse histories to answer the question “Do people actually forget traumatic events such as child sexual abuse, and if so, how common is such forgetting?” A large proportion of the women (38%) did not recall the abuse that had been reported 17 years earlier. Women who were younger at the time of the abuse and those who were molested by someone they knew were more likely to have no recall of the abuse.

….Yehuda, R., Schmeidler, J., Siever, L. J., Binder-Brynes, K., & Elkin, A. (1997). Individual differences in posttraumatic stress disorder symptom profiles in Holocaust survivors in concentration camps or in hiding. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 10, 453-465.

46% of 100 survivors report amnesia on PTSD measures.
http://blogs.brown.edu/recoveredmemory/scholarly-resources/traumatic-memory/

Questions and Answers Regarding Dissociative Amnesia

June 22, 2011 Comments Off on Questions and Answers Regarding Dissociative Amnesia

” Scientific evidence shows that it is not rare for traumatized people to experience amnesia or delayed recall for the trauma.

Amnesia has been reported in combat, for crimes, and for concentration camp experiences and torture. The more severe the trauma, the more likely it is to be forgotten.

Overall, a recovered memory is just as likely to be accurate as a continuously remembered one.”

The sociocognitive model of dissociative identity disorder: a reexamination of the evidence.
” No reason exists to doubt the connection between DID and childhood trauma.”

Questions and Answers Regarding Dissociative Amnesia
by Stephanie Dallam RN, MS, FNP

….there is near-universal scientific acceptance of the fact that the mind is capable of avoiding conscious recall of traumatic experiences.

….Is dissociation a rare phenomenon?
No. Scientific evidence shows that it is not rare for traumatized people to experience amnesia or delayed recall for the trauma. Amnesia has been reported in combat, for crimes, and for concentration camp experiences and torture. Evidence of this process can be found in the early literature on World War I and World War II.

….Carlson, E., & Rosser-Hogan, R. (April, 1993). Mental health status of Cambodian refugees ten years after leaving their homes. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 63 (2), 223-231.

Dissociation is also a frequent finding in survivors extreme terror. Between 1975 and 1979, an estimated one to three million of a population of seven million Cambodians were killed or died of starvation. Carlson, E., & Rosser-Hogan selected 50 subjects at random from a list of all refugees (~500) resettled by nonprofit organization between 1983 and 1985. None had any formal education and had lived in the US for a mean of 5 years. 86% met the criteria for PTSD. The mean number of traumatic experiences the refugees endorsed was 14 and “90% reported amnesia for upsetting events.”

….Krell, R. (1993). Child survivors of the Holocaust: Strategies of adaptation. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 38 , 384-389.

Krell reported on 22 Holocaust survivors who, as children, hid from the Nazis.
“As children they were encouraged not to tell, but to lead normal lives and forget the past . . .”
“The most pervasive preoccupation of child survivors is the continuing struggle with memory, whether there is too much or too little . . .”
“For a child survivor today, an even more vexing problem is the intrusion of fragments of memory – most are emotionally powerful and painful but make no sense. They seem to become more frequent with time and are triggered by thousands of subtle or not so subtle events . . .”

Marks, J. (1995). The hidden children: The secret survivors of the Holocaust. Toronto : Bantam Books.

One holocaust survivor, Ava Landy, describes her amnesia:
“So much of my childhood between the ages of four and nine is blank….It’s almost as if my life was smashed into little pieces . . .
The trouble is, when I try to remember, I come up with so little. This ability to forget was probably my way of surviving emotionally as a child. Even now, whenever anything unpleasant happens to me, I have a mental garbage can in which I can put all the bad stuff and forget it . . . .
I’m still afraid of being hungry. . . . I never leave my house without some food….Again, I don’t remember being hungry. I asked my sister and she said that we were hungry. So I must have been! I just don’t remember.” (p. 188).

What types of traumas result in dissociative amnesia?
A review of 50 studies revealed that amnesia rates tend to increase with severity of trauma and is particularly high in victims of sex crimes….

What is the relation of memory recovery to psychotherapy?
Albach et al. studied 97 adult victims of extreme sexual abuse and a control group of 65 women, matched for age and education who reported on their memories of “ordinary unpleasant childhood experiences.”  The abuse survivors were broken into two groups.  One group had participated in psychotherapy while the other group had not. There was no significant differences in amnesia, memory recovery, or other memory phenomena between the survivors who participated in psychotherapy and those who did not.

…How accurate are recovered memories?
Dalenberg, C. J. (1996). Accuracy, timing and circumstances of disclosure in therapy of recovered and continuous memories of abuse. Journal of Psychiatry & Law,24 (2), 229-75.

Accuracy for Continuous Versus Recovered Memories
Percent with evidence supporting memory
Continuous  75%
Recovered   75%

Conclusion
Scientific evidence shows that it is not rare for traumatized people to experience amnesia or delayed recall for the trauma. Amnesia has been reported in combat, for crimes, and for concentration camp experiences and torture.
The more severe the trauma, the more likely it is to be forgotten.
Overall, a recovered memory is just as likely to be accurate as a continuously remembered one. However, recovered memories have a prominence of emotional and sensory-perceptual elements vs. declarative (verbal) elements. They are often fragmentary and incomplete and thus hard to make into coherent story.
http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/tm/amnesia.html

The sociocognitive model of dissociative identity disorder: a reexamination of the evidence.
Gleaves DH.

According to the sociocognitive model of dissociative identity disorder (DID; formerly, multiple personality disorder), DID is not a valid psychiatric disorder of posttraumatic origin; rather, it is a creation of psychotherapy and the media. Support for the model was recently presented by N.P. Spanos (1994).

In this article, the author reexamines the evidence for the model and concludes that it is based on numerous false assumptions about the psychopathology, assessment, and treatment of DID. Most recent research on the dissociative disorders does not support (and in fact disconfirms) the sociocognitive model, and many inferences drawn from previous research appear unwarranted.

No reason exists to doubt the connection between DID and childhood trauma. Treatment recommendations that follow from the sociocognitive model may be harmful because they involve ignoring the posttraumatic symptomatology of persons with DID.

Psychol Bull. 1994 Jul;116(1):143-65.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8711016

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