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A repressed memory is the psychological concept which refers to a noteworthy memory, more often a traumatic or harmful one, which the person in cause chooses to forget. Usually, the repressed memory cannot be recalled because the person blocks out any element that could bring it back into his or her thoughts. One fact needs to be remembered about repressed memories and it is that this concept is completely different from amnesia, which refers to the pathological situation when the person is unable to remember certain evens because they were not stocked in their brain in the first place.
As far as recovering repressed memories go, a large controversy is taking place because most of the victims with memories they did not want to remember have had to overcome traumatic events such as sexual abuse, loss of someone loved or even horrid accidents. The main controversial fact about the recovery of these memories is the fact that they might not be trustworthy. This is actually what drives so many skeptics to say that recovering repressed memories is useless, as they can never be valid since they were thought to be lost in the mind of the traumatized person.
The main problem that rises when it comes to recovered repressed memories is the manner in which the memories come back into the victim’s head. A research conducted on this topic suggested that experts should only believe those memories that appear spontaneously rather than after being suggested during therapy. This theory is also sustained by Roediger and Bergman in a book on psychological issues. according to them, there are three facts to take into consideration when evaluating the trustworthiness of a recovered memory. Firstly, “traumatic memories are said to be encoded in nonverbal ways, but not in symbolic form” (Roediger, Bergman, 1998, p. 1095) which makes them virtually impossible to reproduce with words. Secondly, the two experts claim that the memories from a traumatized person’s brain are all tending towards being incomplete and chaotic, which makes the recovered memories less viable. Lastly, it appears that those who repress their memories score very high in the Dissociative Experience Scale, which makes them prone towards liability. (Roediger, Bergman, 1998, p. 1096)
In a paper on memory loss and its distortion tendency, Van Damme and d’Ydewalle focus on the fact that memory loss is equal to memory distortion, thus making the recovered memories quite inutile. They conducted multiple studies which included large numbers of people who have been into child abuse when they were little. According to the results, “it is important to note that the results of both free recall and old/new recognition revealed a striking difference between the two types of lists in the production of false versus veridical memories.” (Van Damme, d’Ydewalle, 2009, p. 316)
Randel tries to fight back with the sea of people who believe that repressed memories could be as trustworthy as the normal one. The scientist believe that “These therapists believe that memories must be "recovered" or "re-experienced" in order for the patient to heal'”(Randel, p. 464) Therefore, Randel believes the recovery of the repressed memories is quite beneficial for the human nature, as it is the manner in which the victim manages to recover his or her lost innocence or lack of answers.
To summarize, recovering repressed memories does not need to be controversial, but it should act as a cry for help from those people unfortunate enough to have to go through terrible events which led them to this drastic choice. Furthermore, if one chooses to seek help in order to recover the memories, then people should be more attentive and sensible when it comes to addressing them, as they might be extremely vulnerable while carrying these horrible thoughts.