Dispatch from the (UN)Civil Memory Wars

  • Elizabeth F. Loftus
  • Chris R. Brewin
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 291)

Abstract

Over the last few years, our society has been immersed in a motley collection of “Memory Wars,” as they were called in a lengthy review of several books on recovered memory published in Scientific American (Schacter, 1995). The “memory war” theme was also used to title an editorial that appeared in Psychology Today magazine (Neimark, 1996). The editorialist wrote: “You’d think that memory would be the stuff of dry academia, but it turns out to be one of the most illuminating and terrifying stories of our time” (p. 6). And the “war” theme appeared in the title of a book that reprinted a sizzling pair of essays published previously in the New York Review of Books by Berkeley professor and Freud scholar, Frederick Crews (1995). In those essays, Crews identified a number of beliefs about human nature that he felt have been propagated by leaders of a well-meaning, but misguided, movement:

that repression is the normal human response to trauma; that experiences in infancy produce long-term memories that can be accurately retrieved decades later; that adult psychological difficulties can be reliably ascribed to certain forgotten events in early childhood and not others; that sexual traumas are incomparably more susceptible to repression and the formation of neurosis than any other kind; that symptoms are themselves “memories” that can yield up the story of their origin; that dream interpretation, too, can disclose the repressed past; that memory retrieval is necessary for symptom removal; and that psychotherapists can confidently trace their clinical findings to the patient’s unconscious without allowing for the contaminating influence of their own diagnostic system, imparted directly or through suggestion (274).

Keywords

Sexual Abuse False Memory Crime Victim Misinformation Effect False Event 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Adrian, C., Andersen, M., Barber, J., Bates, B., Bejenke, C., Bowers, K., Bowers, P., Burrows, G., Chaves, J., Covino, N., Dempster, C., Dengrove, E., Dinges, D., Dywan, J., Erickson, J., Franko, D., Freedman, A., Green, S., Gruenewald, D., Hedenberg, J., Herzog, A., Hopkins, C., Hornyak, L., Karlin, R., Kaushall, P., Kelly, S., Kessler, R., Kihlstrom, J., Kirsch, I., LaClave, L., Laurence, J., Lavoie, G., LeBaron, S., Lert, A., Locke, S., Loftus, E., London, R., Lynn, S., Mulligan, R., Nadon, R., Nash, M., Orne, E., Orne, M., Pettinati, H., Reyher, J., Rhue, J., Rothman, I., Sarbin, T., Sargent, G., Sheehan, R, Singer, M., Strauss, B., Wallace, B., Weinstock, A., Whitehouse, W., Woody, E., Wright, M., Zachariae, R., Zamansky, H., Zeltzer, L., Zinn, S. ( 1996, Summer). “Dear Colleagues.” SCE!! Focus: A quarterly publication of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 7–8.Google Scholar
  2. Associated Press (1996, April 22). Christopher Robin Milne, 75. Seattle Times, B6.Google Scholar
  3. Beaver, J. E. (1996). Book Review: The myth of repressed memory. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 86, 596–607.Google Scholar
  4. Belli, R. F. (1989). Influences of misleading postevent information: Misinformation interference and acceptance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 118, 72–85.Google Scholar
  5. Borch-Jacobsen, M. ( 1996, Spring). Neurotica: Freud and the seduction theory. October 76, p 15–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blume, E. S. (1990). Secret Survivors. NY: Wiley.Google Scholar
  7. Ceci, S. J., Huffman, M. L. C., Smith, E., Loftus, E.F. (1994). Repeatedly thinking about a non-event: Source misattributions among preschoolers. Consciousness and Cognition, 3, 388–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ceci, S. J., Loftus, E. F., Leichtman, M. D., Bruck, M. (1994). The possible role of source misattributions in the creation of false beliefs among preschoolers. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Volume XLII, 304–320.Google Scholar
  9. Chandler, C. C. (1991). How memory for an event is influenced by related events: Interference in modified recognition tests. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory Cognition, 17, 115–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cohen, R. (1995, April 27) Bosnian Serb denies all at a War Crimes Tribunal, New York Times, A3.Google Scholar
  11. Conklin, E. E. (1996, May 21). Therapy blamed in delusions, death. Seattle Post-Intelligences, BI-B2.Google Scholar
  12. Crews, F. (1995). The Memory Wars: Freud’s legacy in dispute. NY: The NewYork Review of Books.Google Scholar
  13. Crime Victims Act (1994, Oct). Crime Victims Compensation Program, Department of Labor and Industries, Chapter 7.68 RCW.Google Scholar
  14. Destun, L. M. Kuiper, N. A. (1996). Autobiographical memory and recovered memory therapy. Clinical Psychology Review, 16, 421–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dobson, M. Markham, R. (1993). Imagery ability and source monitoring: Implications for eyewitness memory. British Journal of Psychology, 84, 111–118.Google Scholar
  16. Frischholz, E. J., Spiegel, H., Greenleaf, M., Finklestein, S., Wickless, C., Fine, C., Brown, D., Gravitz, M., Kluft, R., Coe, W., Torem, M. ( 1996, Spring). Letter to the Editor. SCEH Focus. A quarterly publication of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 11–12.Google Scholar
  17. Garry, M., Manning, C., Loftus, E. F., Sherman, S. J. (1996). Imagination inflation. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 3, 208–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Geiselman, R. E., Fisher, R. R, MacKinnon, D. P., Holland, H. L. (1985). Eyewitness memory enhancement in the police interview: Cognitive retrieval mnemonics versus hypnosis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 70, 401–412.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Goff, L. M. Roediger, H. L. (1996). Imagination inflation: Multiple imaginings can lead to false recollection of one’s actions. Paper presented at the Annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Chicago.Google Scholar
  20. Hyman, I.E. Billings, F.J. (1995) Individual differences and the creation of false childhood memories. Unpublished manuscript, Western Washington University.Google Scholar
  21. Hyman, I. E, Husband, T. H. Billings, F. J. (1995). False memories of childhood experiences. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 9, 181–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hyman, I. E. Pentland, J. (1996). The role of mental imagery in the creation of false childhood memories. Journal of Memory and Language, 35, 101–117.Google Scholar
  23. International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (1995). Prosecutor of the Tribunal against Dusan Tadic a/k/a “Dule” Goran Borovnica. Indictment.Google Scholar
  24. Jacobs, J. (1996). Suggestion may lead to adult memories of childhood abuse. San Jose Merctuy News. Reprinted in The Tacoma News Tribune, May 28, 1996, A9.Google Scholar
  25. Johnson, M. K. Lindsay, D. S. Hashtroudi, S. (1993). Source monitoring. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 3–28.Google Scholar
  26. LaFramboise, D. (1996). The princess at the window A new gender morality. Toronto: Penguin Books Canada.Google Scholar
  27. Lee, K. (1996). Children’s suggestibility: The effect of misinformation vs inconsistent information. Poster presented at the NATO Advanced Study Institute, Port de Bourgenay, France, June (this volume).Google Scholar
  28. Lief, H. I. Fetkewicz, J. M. (1995) Retractors of false memories: The evolution of pseudomemories. The Journal of Psychiatry Law, 23, 411–436.Google Scholar
  29. Lindsay, D. S. Read, J. D. (1994). Psychotherapy and memories of childhood sexual abuse: A cognitive perspective. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 8, 281–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lindsay, D.S. Read, J.D. (1995). “Memory work” and recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 1, 846–908.Google Scholar
  31. Loftus, E. F. (1979). Eyewitness testimony. Cambridge: Harvard University PressGoogle Scholar
  32. Loftus, E. F. Ketcham, K. (1991). Witness for the Defense. NY: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  33. Loftus, E. F. Ketcham, K. (1994). The Myth of Repressed Memory. NY: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  34. Loftus, E. F., Paddock, J. R., Guernsey, T. F. (1996). Patient-psychotherapist privilege: Access to clinical records in the tangled web of repressed memory litigation. University of Richmond Law Review, 30, 109–154.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Loftus, E. F. Pickrell, J. (1995). The formation of false memories. Psychiatric Annals, 25, 720–724.Google Scholar
  36. Mazzoni, G. A L. Loftus, E. F. (in press). When dreams become reality. Consciousness Cognition. Google Scholar
  37. McConkey, K. M., Labelle, L., Bibb, B. C., Bryant, R. A. (1990). Hypnosis and suggested pseudomemory: The relevance of test context. Australian Journal of Psychology, 42, 197–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Merskey, H. (1996). Ethical issues in the search for repressed memories. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 50, 323–335.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Miller, A. ( 1996, Oct 21). Why I wrote “The Crucible.” The New Yorker, p 158–164.Google Scholar
  40. Munro, A. (1996). Recovered memories in psychotherapy. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 41, 199–200. Nathan, D. Haaken, J. (1996, Sept/Oct). From incest to Ivan the Terrible: Science and the Trials of Memory. Tikkun, p 29–30, 94–96.Google Scholar
  41. Nathan, D. Snedeker, M. (1995). Satan’s Silence: Ritual abuse and the making of a modern American witch hunt. NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  42. Neimark, J. ( 1996, May/June). Dispatch from the memory war. Psychology Today Magazine, 6–7.Google Scholar
  43. Paris, J. (1996). A critical review of recovered memories in psychotherapy: Part II- Trauma and Therapy, Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 41, 206–210.Google Scholar
  44. Parr, L. E. (I 996a). Repressed memory claim referrals to the nurse consultant. Department of Labor Industries. Crime Victims Compensation Program. State of Washington. Unpublished manuscript submitted to Mental Health Subcommittee. (CVC Program, PO Box 44520, Olympia Washington 98504–4520. Tel: (360) 902–4945Google Scholar
  45. Parr, L. E. (1996b). Repressed memory claims in the crime victims compensation program. Department of Labor Industries. Crime Victims Compensation Program. State of Washington. Unpublished manuscript (with contributions from B. Huseby and R. Brown).Google Scholar
  46. Perry, C. ( 1996, Spring). Letter to the Editor. SCEH Focus. A quarterly publication of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 10.Google Scholar
  47. Polusny, M. A. Follette, V. M. (1996). Remembering childhood sexual abuse: A national survey of psychologists’ clinical practices, beliefs, and personal experiences. Professional Psychology: Research Practice, 27, 41–52.Google Scholar
  48. Poole, D. A., Lindsay, D. S; Memon, A., Bull, R. (1995). Psychotherapy and the recovery of memories of childhood sexual abuse: US and British Practitioners’ opinions, practices and experiences. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63, 426–437.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pope, H. G. Hudson, J. I. (1995). Can memories of childhood sexual abuse be repressed? Psychological Medicine, 25, 121–126.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pope, H. G., Oliva, P. S. Hudson, J. 1. (1996): Can memories of trauma be “repressed?” Unpublished manuscript, Harvard Medical School.Google Scholar
  51. Reyna, V. F., Titcomb, A. L. (in press). Constraints on the suggestibility of eyewitness testimony: A fuzzy-trace theory analysis. In D. G. Payne F. G. Conrad (Eds.), Intersections in basic and applied memory research. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  52. Robinson, K. (1996, Aug 14). It happened one night, I think. Seattle Weekly, 9–12.Google Scholar
  53. Roediger, H. L. (1996). Memory illusions. Journal of Memory and Language, 35, 76–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Roediger, H. L., Jacoby, D., McDermott, K. B. (1996). Misinformation effects in recall: Creating false memories through repeated retrieval. Journal of Memory and Language, 35, 300–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rose, E. S. ( 1993, Jan/Feb). Surviving the unbelievable: A first-person account of cult ritual abuse, p 40–45. Schacter, Daniel L. (1995). Memory wars. Scientific American, 272, 135–139Google Scholar
  56. Schacter, Daniel L. (1996). Searching for memory: The brain, the mind, and the past. NY: Basic Books. Seattle Times (1996, Sept 29). Editorials: The kiss was just a kiss, B6.Google Scholar
  57. Shannon, B. (1996, June 7). Victims’ therapy called harmful. The Olympian, Al.Google Scholar
  58. Slovenko, R. (1995). The duty of therapists to third parties. The Journal of Psychiatry Law, 23, 383–410.Google Scholar
  59. Spanos, N. P., Menary, E., Gabora, N., DuBreuil, S., Dewhirst, B. (1991). Secondary identity enactments during hypnotic past-life regression: A sociocognitive perspective. Journal of Personality Social Psychology, 61, 308–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Spiegel, D. ( 1996, Spring). Presidential column. SCEH Focus: A quarterly publication of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 1–2, 13Google Scholar
  61. Steinern, Gloria ( 1995, August). Making connections. Speech presented at the American Psychological Association annual Convention, New York.Google Scholar
  62. Terr, L. (1988). What happens to memories of trauma? American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 27, 96–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Titcomb, A. L. Reyna, V. F. (1995). In F. N. Dempster and C. Brainerd (Eds.) Interference and Inhibition in Cognition, (pp. 264–294 ). San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  64. Walker, L. E. A. (1994). Abused women and survivor therapy: A practical guide for the psychotherapist. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Wente, M. (1996, May 4). The taboos of recovered memory. The Globe and Mail, D7.Google Scholar
  66. Weschler, L. (1995, Nov. 20). Inventing peace. The New Yorker, 56–64.Google Scholar
  67. False Memory Syndrome Foundation (1993). Family survey results. Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  68. Hyman, I.E., Billings, F.J. (1995). Individual differences and the creation of false memories. Unpublished manuscript, Western Washington University.Google Scholar
  69. Malinoski, P., Lynn, S.J. (1996). The pliability of early memories. Unpublished manuscript, Ohio University.Google Scholar
  70. Poole, D.A., Lindsay, D.S., Memon, A., Bull, R. (1995). Psychotherapy and the recovery of memories of childhood sexual abuse: U.S. and British practioners’ opinions, practices, and experiences. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63, 426–437.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth F. Loftus
    • 1
  • Chris R. Brewin
    • 2
  1. 1.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Royal HollowayUniversity of LondonUK

Personalised recommendations