Monday, October 08, 2007


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scary stuff, this repressed memory thing. Does not the human mind make mistakes in memory? Hell, I can't find my keys often enough, swearing they were right over THERE a minute ago. Phone numbers? Fuh-get about it!

I have heard that those with heavy conflict in their memories can change the past, facts, as it were, in order to perhaps bear it, or make it more compatible with their own way of thinking for one reason or another. I have never had to bear a memory so powerful it needed to be changed in order to survive.
I have one that wakes me often, and is maybe 15 years old. I find myself standing in the middle of my bedroom yelling at a local farmer. (my son got dragged down the street by a tractor at 5, I saw it through my front window) My son doesn't seem to remember it, while I can't shake it. So I do have an interest in the idea.

8:46 AM, October 08, 2007  
Blogger Larry Sheldon said...

There is nothing, NO THING, about "repressed" memory recovery that is a laughing matter.

Nothing. Not even remotely funny.

(I have justification for that opinion, but I am not willing to discuss it further.)

But even without the problems I won't talk about, it does not take a trained professional to see that human memory, like humans themselves, can be manipulated and people can be "helped" to recall seeing or doing things that could not possibly have happened. And sometimes the "help" isn't even external. An example:

In my younger days I earned and exercised a private pilot's license. Off and on through the ensuing years I have fondly recalled the aircraft I flew (all rented from somebody else) in those halcyon days. Including a favorite, a Commanche 400, a hot-rod of an airplane.

Recently, I came across my "brain bag" (large brief-case--a salesman's sample case actually--used to haul charts, computer (in those days a circular sliderule) and such.

I dug out my log book (last entry a long time ago showing that I had not flown PIC the previous year).

No where in it was any mention of the 400. I have never flown it from the left seat. (There is no doubt that I flew it from the right side--but that time is all in Gerry Baldwin's log, not mine.)

But if you had asked me a couple of years ago about it, I am sure that I could have answered all sorts of questions about flying it and had the polygraph man wondering if his machine was on.

2:13 PM, October 08, 2007  
Blogger pockosmum said...

If bad memories were automatically repressed, would PTSD exist?

I was in a large earthquake over 10 years ago. There was a large loss of life and parts of the city were ruined. To this day a fire siren can trigger those memories, right down to the smell of concrete dust in the air. Memories of other events in my life are triggered by sounds, sights and smells and recalled in detail. It would seem that the things that affect us most, terrify us the most are those that are the most difficult to forget.

Or, is there some level of fright or dissociation that when reached, blots out memories? I have no experience with losing memories, I have had only the opposite experience, having memories (like those vivid ones of post-quake experiences) that I wish I could forget. I became interested in repressed memory, whether or not it exists, when I found I had memories that could be recalled in such minute detail.

7:53 PM, October 08, 2007  
Blogger KellyMac said...

Bad memories can indeed be repressed. I have amnesia about most of my life. I don't even remember chunks of my marriage. And my childhood was completely gone.

Of course, now I understand why, and it is very painful to have to accept that those things happened to me. If I could fix all the ways I am f'd up without remembering, I would. Believe me, I've tried. But the only thing that has helped over 20 years of going to therapy every few years, clinical depression, an eating disorder (I weighed about twice what I should), sex being at first painful, then a chore, emotional and physical numbness at all times, is the therapy I'm doing right now. I'll be 42 years old this month. I'm tired of living this way.

Oh, and you can have PTSD and not remember the events.

With the way the whole repressed memory/DID thing has been abused over the past decade, it is very difficult for those of us who do have that problem to even consider that it could be true. It's hard enough trying to heal, without that.

Dr. Helen, I came to your page to pick up your interview with Glenn Sacks so I could post it on my blog (, and I'm so glad I got distracted by this article. Thank you for posting it :)

10:52 AM, October 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm skeptical about the whole "repressed memory" concept. The assumption seemed to be that any traumatic event must be indelibly recorded in someone's memory. That assumption was based on another one: that all people experience all traumatic events with equal intensity.

This is something I've brought up before. Our culture has a template that victims are expected to follow. Terrible events in combat "must" result in PTSD. Rape and child abuse "must" result in severe lifelong mental disturbance. And if someone is unhappy, it must be because of these awful things that happened to them. Which is all true - except when it isn't.

The repressed memory episode taught us at least two things. First, memories are not "snapshots" of experience; they are "re-constructions," and not very accurate ones, either. Second, some people just don't remember.

11:35 AM, October 09, 2007  
Blogger Serket said...

Are people who seem to have Dissociative Identity Disorder mostly pretending?

2:19 PM, October 09, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

DID and repressed memories are similiar, in my view: very occasionally genuine, the rest of the time either faked or influenced by other people. However, it is often impossible to distinguish between the genuine article and the other 99% of the cases.

5:12 PM, October 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not making lightly of other people's problems. But I do have memory problems of my own with particular things. Can't ever find a broom, mop, vacuum cleaner, the telephone when it rings, shampoo or bar soap except Saturdays....I just don't understand it.

6:00 PM, October 09, 2007  
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