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Siberia
SFN Addict

Brazil
2322 Posts

Posted - 01/19/2005 :  13:18:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Siberia's Homepage  Send Siberia an AOL message  Send Siberia a Yahoo! Message Send Siberia a Private Message
You can't resist... now can you?
Well, I've no idea. I presume it's easy to fabricate a memory, by lying convincingly - especially small, irrelevant memories that can be orchestrated to a greater set of memories that can lead to some conclusion...

"Why are you afraid of something you're not even sure exists?"
- The Kovenant, Via Negativa

"People who don't like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn't have such funny beliefs."
-- unknown
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dv82matt
SFN Regular

760 Posts

Posted - 01/19/2005 :  20:27:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by astropin
<snip>
B) The Claimant is Lying.

The problem with this argument IMO is that it dismisses all the evidence that is available, or is likely to become available, out of hand. Unless the following two conditions are met, I don't think that it's really justified:

1. Situations involving repressed memories are of such a nature that it is more reasonable to assume that the claimant is intentionally lying than it is to assume that the claimant is telling the truth (as they know it).
2. There is no way to determine (with a degree of accuracy better than chance) if the claimant is lying, or telling the truth (as they know it).

Of course there would be some uncertainty, but as long as we don't make the mistake of thinking that any conclusions reached are more certain than the evidence on which they are based, I don't see a problem.
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 01/19/2005 :  22:02:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
I recalled seeing a program awhile back about the reliability of memory. I only caught the very end, which was a shame since it seemed interesting.

Apparently for this experiment, they selected a group of people to wear helmets with little cameras and microphones on them that recorded the audio and video of what that person saw and heard. They subjected this group to a series of "adventures" out in the woods--I tuned in late so it was a little hard to follow--but one of these involved some military personel. Behind a cordorned off area, a man in fatigues, acting quite hostile, orders this group of people to clear out. One became verbally abusive and approached a woman on the show, who cowered behind a fellow experimentee.

Anyway, the showed flashed to six months later. An interviewer was questioning the woman about this experience. They point was to determine how accurate her memory was vs. what the images showed on her recording, which she had never viewed. The woman said that yes, the military man was very intimidating and that she feared for her safety. The interviewer then asked if the man was armed. "Yes," she replied. "How sure are you?" "100%. I distinctly remember him pointing his rifle at me, motioning us away with it, and generally pointing at us in an attempt to scare us."

When they watched the footage, however, the man wasn't holding any weapons. The sheer shock on the woman's face at having realized she remembered something that wasn't true was priceless. She had invented a memory.

The explanation the show offered, and the one that makes the most sense to me, is that your current emotional state plays a huge role in how the brain records a memory. Because the woman was terrorfied originally, her memories were altered to place her in greater danger than she was actually in. This coincides exactly with the conditions that produce "ghost stories." A person is already pumped with adrenaline from fear at being in a dark "spooky" place. How easy it is to see how something innocuous--an unfamilar sound--can later be recalled as a far more dramatic and troubling event.

Hypnosis is problematic when used to aid recollection for many reasons, as I'm sure most of you are aware, but I would stress the emotional realism some patients experince while under its effects, which appears to be extremely detrimental to memory accuracy.

Should it be considered a syndrome? Probably. It should at the very least be a considered a problem, and something all psychologists are cognizant of avoiding, or at least minimalizing.


(And sorry for any typos or errors in grammar, this was written under time constraints.)

"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 01/20/2005 :  01:38:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
The term 'syndrome' makes sense if the context of the false memory is combined with some pathologic result. (You could argue pathology too but put that aside for a minute.) If the false memories were significant enough to have an impact other than just the error itself, I can see it reaching the need to categorize it as a syndrome.

I remembered the gun. Gun wasn't there. Only consequence, I find out I was wrong. This extends to erroneous testimony as well. Despite the consequences, even if tragic, it still amounts to an error.

On the other side of the continuum, you might have a person who believes they have recovered memories of sexual abuse as a child. They adopt the reality of an abused child. Now I think you are talking pathology and a syndrome is an appropriate term.
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 01/20/2005 :  01:43:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
Research into how memories are formed gives some clues as to why we have so many distortions in the final product. Everything you remember is recorded after it is filtered, not before.

So, you do not remember what you actually saw. Instead, you remember what you saw after it was filtered, categorized, interpreted, and then altered slightly every time you recall it and commit it to memory again.

I do think it's a shame the courts can't catch up as fast as the research into how unreliable eyewitness testimony really is.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13457 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2005 :  11:13:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
Ok, I suppose this would be the place to comment on the two new Kil Reports on FMS. Your feedback would be appreciated, even if I must come back and debate the issue.

I see, so far, False Memory Syndrome is winning. But this is a very small sampling. More votes would be helpful too...

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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trishran
Skeptic Friend

USA
196 Posts

Posted - 03/19/2005 :  16:39:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send trishran a Private Message
I like Valliant Dancer's description of psychology as a "group grope." I've been thinking a lot lately about the idea that human beings have a consistent personality, which psychology claims to study. But, the thing is, humans are social creatures, and it is rare to fiind one who has had no interaction with various social sub-groups.

In The Nurture Assumption, Judith Rich Harris portrays a much more complex scenario. What appears to be a person's personality varies tremendously when that person is in different situations. For example, an adult who goes home to visit with family slides back into the family role played as a child. A grown up first born woman might be a bit bossy to her [fellow adult] siblings. A sargeant might be tough as a drill instructor, but a tender father with his kids in his home.[The book contains much much more, this is just a snip...]

In light of this, it might be harder to believe that a person has a single, durable personality used in all social situations. A person plays a variety of roles in various social situations.

I think the idea of a the durable, single personality is a throwback to the mid 19th century, a time when serious scientists and doctors believed that insanity was basically one disease, that masturbation both was a disease and caused others, and that there was an epidemic of "hysteria" among women [whose main symptoms seem to have been getting sick of being stuck in the house with no education, no career, no property rights and being under the control of husband or father for life]. Also, at that time, people believed that criminals could be detected by their facial features.

Perhaps in situations in which it appears there is evidence that false memories are being created what is going on is a form of confabulation. The person's memories are slowly reshaped in re-telling until the memories conform with the goals of the group. I think this can also happen with memories that have never been forgotten [as when someone re-defines their life after a religious conversion: evil before, christian after] If this is possible, it is also possible to convince a person that memories that they have all along were not real to begin with. This might explain why some people who have sued their parents for abuse can sometimes recant later.

Anyway, if we don't really have durable, single personalities, then what goes on in therapy is not really an exploration of the patient, but the creation of a new social group [of two] that the patient and therapist create together.

Consider also, that most therapists interact only with the patient. If there is evidence outside of the therapist's office that would confirm or deny what the patient is saying, the therapist is unlikely to see it. Also, the therapist doesn't observe the patient in other social situations, like work, family gatherings, and so on. Even if the therapist went to see the patient in such settings, the very presence of the therapist would likely change the dynamics of the group and the therapist wouldn't get to see what goes on when the therapist is not present.

Maybe what psychology has been creating and observing for all these decades is not the function of a durable personality, but the spectrum of behaviors that are enacted by persons who have been plugged into a weird social role in which they are both subservient [the "patient" seeking advice] and dominant - initiating the relationship and being able to end it at any time.

trish
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13457 Posts

Posted - 03/20/2005 :  15:13:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
trishran:
Anyway, if we don't really have durable, single personalities, then what goes on in therapy is not really an exploration of the patient, but the creation of a new social group [of two] that the patient and therapist create together.


There are a lot of different kinds of therapies. What you have said here reminds me of Existential Psychotherapy. The therapist works from a phenomenological approach, trying to understand the client's world view, not diagnosising them with a symptom set, but seeing the client as a unique individual who is responding to the world. (Social situations.) Also, in EP there is an idea that the relationship between client and therapist is a "creation of a new social group" sort of. One of the aspects of this kind of therapy is the way in which the client and therapist relate to each other in the therapeutic session. This "relatedness" seems akin to the "creation of a new social group" of which you speak.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13457 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  14:06:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
Copied from this thread.

quote:
Originally posted by R.Wreck:
Check out this article from the Skeptic's Dictionary. It may help you to understand how (as far as we know) memories work.


quote:
Kil:
I don't fully agree with what is written in that article. If you would like to discuss that, perhaps we should take it over to the FMSF thread. You should be able to figure out my disagreement with the article by reading this:

A Cherry Picker's Guide To Choosing Evidence For Traumatic Repression Or False Memory Syndrome

And this:

Questioning the Validity of False Memory Syndrome


quote:
R.Wreck:
The point of the reference to the Skeptic's Dictionary was to help wishfire understand the inherent unreliability of memory, especially those from a young age.

Regarding False Memory Syndrome, I'm in agreement with you that we really don't know enough at this point how much validity there is to it. Given the complexity of the brain and the current state of knowledge, it is extremely difficult to say how much of a memory is true, especially those that surface years after the alleged event. I'm most inclined to believe that traumatic events would be difficult not to remember. I would not, however rule out the possibility of repression, but I think it would be the exception rather than the rule. And as long we believe that repressed memories are possible, then the door is open for false memories being mistaken for actual repressed memories.


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13457 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  14:11:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
R.Wreck:
The point of the reference to the Skeptic's Dictionary was to help wishfire understand the inherent unreliability of memory, especially those from a young age.


Right, I figured.

quote:
R.Wreck: I'm most inclined to believe that traumatic events would be difficult not to remember. I would not, however rule out the possibility of repression, but I think it would be the exception rather than the rule.


Traumatic repression (or whatever we want to call this kind of forgetting) seems to run in and around the 30% range. So, sure, that is not the majority of the cases. But to my thinking, that is significantly large enough percentage of the cases that would make dismissing repression as only a vague possibility a mistake.

quote:
R.Wreck:
And as long we believe that repressed memories are possible, then the door is open for false memories being mistaken for actual repressed memories.


And, of course, I have been arguing that a reason to deny that repression happens should not be motivated by its inconvenience to those who are uncomfortable with that little complication…


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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dv82matt
SFN Regular

760 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  15:47:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message
Speaking as someone who has very little knowledge on the subject it nevertheless seems likely to me that both false memories and repressed memories exist.

Whether or not either condition actually satisfies the criteria of a syndrome I don't know. But the existence of one does not rule out the existence of the other.

Just my two cents worth.
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R.Wreck
SFN Regular

USA
1191 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  18:26:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send R.Wreck a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Kil:

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
R.Wreck: I'm most inclined to believe that traumatic events would be difficult not to remember. I would not, however rule out the possibility of repression, but I think it would be the exception rather than the rule.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Traumatic repression (or whatever we want to call this kind of forgetting) seems to run in and around the 30% range. So, sure, that is not the majority of the cases. But to my thinking, that is significantly large enough percentage of the cases that would make dismissing repression as only a vague possibility a mistake.



To clarify, are you saying that when a person has a traumatic experience (and I mean along the lines of child sexual abuse or something similar, not the time when you were Stanley in the fifth grade production of A Streetcar Named Desire and puked in front of the whole school), that 30% of the time that memory will be repressed (i.e. the person will have no concious recall of the event)? That just intuitively sounds a bit high. I would have figured maybe in the neighborhood of 5% or less (but more than a vague possibility). Where did you get the 30% figure?

quote:

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
R.Wreck:
And as long we believe that repressed memories are possible, then the door is open for false memories being mistaken for actual repressed memories.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



And, of course, I have been arguing that a reason to deny that repression happens should not be motivated by its inconvenience to those who are uncomfortable with that little complication…



I wouldn't deny repression happens. It seems that it would be rather difficult though to find substantiating evidence which could differentiate between repressed and false memories, especially for events that allegedly happened decades ago, since such evidence would almost have to involve someone else's memory (and that someone may have a reason to deny the allegation). So how do we reliably distinguish a repressed memory from a false memory?

The foundation of morality is to . . . give up pretending to believe that for which there is no evidence, and repeating unintelligible propositions about things beyond the possibliities of knowledge.
T. H. Huxley

The Cattle Prod of Enlightened Compassion
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Hitchiker1
New Member

11 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  19:34:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Hitchiker1 a Private Message
David : Interesting controversy! The real problem I think stems from the
fact that some therapists have not learned how to regress thier patients
correctly. For instance - You are now seven years old. You are in the living room on the sofa.Who else is in the room with you?-That would be correct HOWEVER : You are now seven years old.You are in the living room
on the sofa.Your daddy's there too isn't he ? - That would be prompting
the patient.Which is a no-no. That's what causes these false memories.
By the way...I didn't know regression therapy was out of fashion.Or that
it does'nt work !?
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13457 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  22:37:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
R.Wreck:
To clarify, are you saying that when a person has a traumatic experience (and I mean along the lines of child sexual abuse or something similar, not the time when you were Stanley in the fifth grade production of A Streetcar Named Desire and puked in front of the whole school), that 30% of the time that memory will be repressed (i.e. the person will have no concious recall of the event)? That just intuitively sounds a bit high. I would have figured maybe in the neighborhood of 5% or less (but more than a vague possibility). Where did you get the 30% figure?


Yes, I am saying that somewhere around 30% is the figure that keeps coming up for loosing some or all memory of a traumatic event like serious sexual abuse.

Here are four studies that Michelle described and sited in the article Questioning the Validity of False Memory Syndrome on this site.

Loftus, E. F., Polonsky, S., and Fullilove, M. T., 1994. “Memories of childhood sexual abuse: Remembering and repressing,” Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18, 67-84.

Elliot, D.M. 1997. “Traumatic Events: Prevalence and delayed recall in the general population,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65, 811-820.

Williams, L. M. 1994. “Recall of childhood trauma: A prospective study of women's memories of child sexual abuse,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 1167-76.

Yehuda, R., Schmeidler, J., Siever, L.J., Binder-Brynes, K. and Elkin, A. 1997. “Individual differences in post traumatic stress disorder symptom profiles in Holocaust survivors in concentration camps or in hiding,” Journal of Tramatic Stress, 10, 453-463.

Plus this:

Recovered Memory Project n/d, “24 Publications concerning traumatic amnesia in Holocaust survivors,” not dated, http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Taubman_Center/Recovmem/other_pub.html

And there are a lot more studies out there that put the repression (or forgetting) somewhere in the 30% range.

quote:
R.Wreck:
I wouldn't deny repression happens. It seems that it would be rather difficult though to find substantiating evidence which could differentiate between repressed and false memories, especially for events that allegedly happened decades ago, since such evidence would almost have to involve someone else's memory (and that someone may have a reason to deny the allegation). So how do we reliably distinguish a repressed memory from a false memory?


That certainly is a problem, isn't it?


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13457 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  23:10:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
Hitchiker1:
David : Interesting controversy! The real problem I think stems from the fact that some therapists have not learned how to regress thier patients correctly. For instance - You are now seven years old. You are in the living room on the sofa.Who else is in the room with you?-That would be correct HOWEVER : You are now seven years old.You are in the living room
on the sofa.Your daddy's there too isn't he ? - That would be prompting the patient.Which is a no-no. That's what causes these false memories. By the way...I didn't know regression therapy was out of fashion.Or that it does'nt work !?


You are right about leading questions. And one of the problems with Recovered Memory Therapy is that the therapist sometimes didn't even realize that leading questions were being asked. Also, fishing expeditions for memories assumes that a memory needs to be recovered. RMT has fallen out of fashion for some very good reasons.

Any therapy that uses regressive techniques I would regard with a considerable amount of skepticism…

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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