The Logical Status of Case Histories

  • Willem A. Wagenaar
  • Sherrill Mulhern
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 291)


Much of the discussion on the ontology of forgotten and recovered memories seems to rest upon the interpretation of case histories. I will argue that the logical status of case histories is often poorly understood. As a consequence case histories have the effect of strengthening biases instead of testing theories. I suspect that this problem is introduced through the intertwining of psychology and legal practice. But the difference between science and justice is obvious: while juries and courts of judges use psychological theory to decide about a single case, scientists use single case histories to decide about general theories. If a case history does not allow generalization, it is irrelevant to us, no matter how relevant the trial might have been to those who were involved.


Sexual Abuse Child Abuse Case History Child Sexual Abuse Logical Status 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Willem A. Wagenaar
    • 1
  • Sherrill Mulhern
    • 2
  1. 1.Leiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Ecole des Hautes Etudes des Sciences SocialesParisFrance

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