Monday, January 09, 2006

False Memories; Gotta Love 'em.

` I thought I'd point out to you a neat article I found recently, as I don't have much time to write anything right now. Here's the first part:

In the late 1990s, as a twenty-year rash of high-profile sex abuse cases was winding down, Harvard Ph.D. student Susan Clancy took a skeptical look at the phenomenon of "recovered memories"—memories repressed for years and suddenly recalled in therapy, which had been sending accused molesters to jail for a decade. Her work promptly got her labeled a "friend of pedophiles" by one letter writer, and politically biased by a colleague quoted in the New York Times.

` Unprepared for the political minefield she'd stumbled into, Clancy started looking for a way to study false memory creation without inviting attacks of political bias. Naturally, she turned to aliens.

` Aliens!? You know, the kind from outer space? Of course! Aliens are so well-known for creating false memories! Why, they've tricked millions of people - especially Americans - into thinking that they exist!
` Oh, those mischeivous extraterrestrials....
` Well, gotta go do stuff. Besides, the building's Atomic Cricket Alarm System is really hurtng my ears, and every apartment must be checked. It'll be a while before it's all finished.


Galtron said...

Very well-written and informative! I had no idea that memory repression was a myth!

S E E Quine said...

` Yes, at least that kind of very dramatic memory repression is. One of my friends, though, actually did repress the memory of being raped.
` It's not as extensive a feat as you'd think:

` In college, she was waiting for this guy to get a book of hers out of his dorm, and she stepped inside his doorway.
` Suddenly, he slammed the door behind her and locked it, grabbed her, ripped off her clothes etc., she was screaming and nobody could hear.
` Afterwards, she thought to herself; 'Well, I'm not exactly a virgin anymore, so who would love me?'
` She wrote about it and everything. Unfortunately, because she didn't have anyone to talk to who wouldn't blame her or kill him, she never told anyone - not even the police.
` Instead, she got this guy to reluctantly marry her because she thought he'd ruined her!

` Illogical? Yes. Since she is such a smart person, and since marrying the dolt was such a stupid thing to do, she spent years repressing this fact.
` After all, how could anyone be this idiotic?
` Well, I tell you, emotions sometimes don't make any logical sense.

` Between then and a few years ago, all she knew was that she'd had intercourse with the guy who was now her husband, but she didn't remember that she'd been forced to do it.
` Then one day, she remembered what had really happened, and suddenly a lot of her other memories made sense in this light.
` My friend then confronted the guy she'd been married to for all that time and, to her surprise, he apologized!
` Shortly after, she came across one of her old homework papers from college. On the reverse side, it described exactly what she had remembered.
` Clearly, she had forgotten a major traumatic event that had shaped her life.

` Analysis:
` She didn't repress the memory as a whole - she had omitted a few details in order to shift the blame.
` As far as I know, it is possible to modify one's own memory like this - especially under that much pressure - and also to believe things that had never happened to be true without hypnosis.
` This is probably as close to having 'recovered memories' as anyone could expect to get.