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dv82matt
SFN Regular

760 Posts

Posted - 07/18/2005 :  23:19:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by R.Wreck

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?

It occured to me as I was reading this, that there may not be a sharp distinction between repressed memories and false memories. It seems likely to me that all repressed memories would have false details mixed in, and perhaps most false memories would have a kernel of truth to them.

Attempting to distinguish between false memories and repressed memories may be the wrong way to tackle the problem.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13457 Posts

Posted - 07/19/2005 :  10:00:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by dv82matt

quote:
Originally posted by R.Wreck

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?

It occured to me as I was reading this, that there may not be a sharp distinction between repressed memories and false memories. It seems likely to me that all repressed memories would have false details mixed in, and perhaps most false memories would have a kernel of truth to them.

Attempting to distinguish between false memories and repressed memories may be the wrong way to tackle the problem.



Well, really though, some memories are false. Never happened. No truth to them at all. And some memories that have been repressed (or forgotten) and recalled may be reliable enough, if not perfect, for some action to be taken (in cases like childhood sexual abuse). Coroberating evidence is the best way to tell the difference, I believe. And that kind of evidence is often hard to come by, as has been pointed out.

I think the only way out of this dilemma is to keep doing research in the area of memory. Perhaps one day something will be found that is common either to most of those who have a real memory and those who have a false memory that will help sort out which is which. Maybe behaviors will be found in those who were really traumatized, missing from those who have false memories of a trauma.

Interestingly, such a thing can be found in so called alien abduction victims. Most of the people who remember being abducted by aliens lead otherwise normal lives and rarely show outward signs of PTSD or other behaviors like clinical depression (or what have you) that one would expect to find in victims of a serious trauma.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case for those who have false memories of a sexual abuse, including those who were victims of some sort of recovered memory therapy, where a memory may have been “planted.” A problem arises here too though. These people sought therapy for some reason. Something was already going on that brought them into a therapy in the first place. False memories aside, it may be hard to sort out other behaviors they may have and pin those solely on the bad therapy. While it may be true that sexual abuse may not have occurred, there may well have been some other “trouble in paradise” that didn't get resolved. That is one of my problems with the description of False Memory Syndrome that the FMSF has offered up. The whole issue of what caused what pathology remains unresolved, it seems to me. If a completely stable person enters into a bad therapy and symptoms start to emerge that are outside of the “normal” range of behaviors, the FMSF might have a case. But who seeks therapy when they are feeling fine?

Okay, I went on a bit of a rant here…

Edited a bit...
Edited again...

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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R.Wreck
SFN Regular

USA
1191 Posts

Posted - 07/20/2005 :  16:55:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send R.Wreck a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Kil:

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by dv82matt


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by R.Wreck

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?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It occured to me as I was reading this, that there may not be a sharp distinction between repressed memories and false memories. It seems likely to me that all repressed memories would have false details mixed in, and perhaps most false memories would have a kernel of truth to them.

Attempting to distinguish between false memories and repressed memories may be the wrong way to tackle the problem.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Well, really though, some memories are false. Never happened. No truth to them at all. And some memories that have been repressed (or forgotten) and recalled may be reliable enough, if not perfect, for some action to be taken (in cases like childhood sexual abuse). Coroberating evidence is the best way to tell the difference, I believe. And that kind of evidence is often hard to come by, as has been pointed out.

I think the only way out of this dilemma is to keep doing research in the area of memory. Perhaps one day something will be found that is common either to most of those who have a real memory and those who have a false memory that will help sort out which is which. Maybe behaviors will be found in those who were really traumatized, missing from those who have false memories of a trauma.



The most reliable discriminator between real / repressed memories and false memories may be electrical activity in the brain. If we were able to find a "signature" brain wave pattern (or whatever it is exactly that brain researchers look for) that indicated recall from an acual encoded memory, and could show the lack of said signature during recall of false memories, you may have a way of distinguishing the two. Of course such a thing may or may not actually exist, and it may not always (if ever) be as clear cut as one would like, since as has been said, memories can be a mixture of actual and imagined events. I think it would be an interesting line of research though.

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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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13457 Posts

Posted - 09/10/2005 :  09:42:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
I have noticed, looking at the False Memory Syndrome poll, that many of you think False Memory Syndrome is a valid diagnosis. I would love to know why you think that. Personally speaking, while I believe that false memories happen, I think the claim to associated syndrome is pseudoscientific rubbish, just so you know where I stand on this…

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 - 09/11/2005 :  14:31:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Kil

I have noticed, looking at the False Memory Syndrome poll, that many of you think False Memory Syndrome is a valid diagnosis. I would love to know why you think that. Personally speaking, while I believe that false memories happen, I think the claim to associated syndrome is pseudoscientific rubbish, just so you know where I stand on this...
It seems plausible to me that, since false memories exist, that there could be a common explanitory framework for at least some cases of false memory. I'm not really sure how a syndrome might differ from this.

My answer to the poll question was "I somewhat agree" although I would have been equally comfortable choosing "I don't know."

Anyway I may not have a correct notion of what a syndrome is. I did read the definition provided though.
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VVolfe347
New Member

Canada
22 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2005 :  18:32:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit VVolfe347's Homepage Send VVolfe347 a Private Message
Two points:

First the term FMS currently stands for Fibromyalgia Syndrome, FMS is a type of neurotransmitter disorder, in which the pain-signals that our brains receive are intensified.

Second someone being labeled as having False Memory Syndrome when they don't (I'm thinking of sexual abuse issues here), or visa versa can have consequences which were not intended in the diagnosis. Labels themselves bother me to some degree when it comes to medicine, mainly because they stick, and that's the end of research and treatment alternatives.

Wolfe
"The Blind don't lead the blind, People walk around with their eyes closed"
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Hitchiker1
New Member

11 Posts

Posted - 11/01/2005 :  01:33:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Hitchiker1 a Private Message
I have not taken the opportunity to read all these posts on FMS.Its
3 am and I am dead tired. However I did want to pose a question or two
and complicate things. In the hypnotherapy community it is considered
very bad form to lead the patient when you are doing an age regression.
Leading the patient occurs when you are bringing the patient back in time
and having them relive certain events.When the patient is at the point
in time that the therapist wants them to relive he must not suggest like : - are you with your father or your mother ? But rather he
should say :- Is it day or night ? -What is going on ? -are you alone ?
So if hypnotherapists want to avoid this false memory syndrome they must
have some basis for it.Also you cannot use a hypnotically induced memory
as a basis for a court case.This doesn't mean you can't use hypnosis to
enhance a memory to assist in a police investigation.Conventional books
on hypnosis always state somewhere that the mind is a computer storage system that records everything accurately from day one and all you need to know is how to access it.Here's one problem with theory : Past Lives
Recall ! Alright some of you out there believe in past lives but not me.
How can you recall a past life ? What is happening here is that the
unconcious mind is fabricating information because when called upon to
return to an earlier event which it can't or DOES NOT WANT TO remember
it plays BEN HUR or Treasure Island or whatever on the mental screen.
By the way if anybody knows how to get in touch with a hypnotherapist
that works with chemical dependency issues named Gregory...ask her to
send me an e-note at : Hitchiker1@Lycos.com I lost contact with her.
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dv82matt
SFN Regular

760 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2005 :  15:29:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message
I came across this at Google Answers. It provides an excellent synopsis of false/recovered memories.
Edited by - dv82matt on 12/18/2005 15:31:47
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13457 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2005 :  23:54:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by dv82matt

I came across this at Google Answers. It provides an excellent synopsis of false/recovered memories.

Not really. What it is is a source for the possibilities and pitfalls of using hypnosis effectively to indicate an unconscious where memories might reside. The studies cited go this way. Yes, no and maybe.

In order to consider subject fully, you would have to deal with memories that were recovered without hypnosis.

The studies on trauma and the amygdala are very interesting. Some good stuff there…

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 - 12/19/2005 :  00:59:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Kil

quote:
Originally posted by dv82matt

I came across this at Google Answers. It provides an excellent synopsis of false/recovered memories.

Not really. What it is is a source for the possibilities and pitfalls of using hypnosis effectively to indicate an unconscious where memories might reside. The studies cited go this way. Yes, no and maybe.
Isn't this the central issue in the false/recovered memory debate though?
quote:
In order to consider subject fully, you would have to deal with memories that were recovered without hypnosis.
I agree of course, but what other methods of memory recovery are there? There seems to be a dearth of studies related to these other methods of memory recovery. Until this changes it seems reasonable to focus on the studies that do exist.

BTW I'm not trying to imply that other methods of memory retrieval don't exist, just that I don't know of any that have been the focus of scientific studies.
quote:
The studies on trauma and the amygdala are very interesting. Some good stuff there…
Definitely. It's a facinating subject.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13457 Posts

Posted - 12/19/2005 :  22:14:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message


quote:
Originally posted by dv82matt

I came across this at Google Answers. It provides an excellent synopsis of false/recovered memories.

quote:
Me:
Not really. What it is is a source for the possibilities and pitfalls of using hypnosis effectively to indicate an unconscious where memories might reside. The studies cited go this way. Yes, no and maybe.

quote:
dv82matt:
Isn't this the central issue in the false/recovered memory debate though?


No. The debate is over whether traumatic memories can be repressed for a period of time and then remembered. The memory wars are about that. I am no fan of “recovered memory therapy.” I think that any therapy that involves regressive techniques should be considered with a great deal of skepticism, including hypnosis. But I also believe that under certain conditions a memory can be lost to its owner.

quote:
Me:
In order to consider subject fully, you would have to deal with memories that were recovered without hypnosis.

quote:
dv82matt:
I agree of course, but what other methods of memory recovery are there? There seems to be a dearth of studies related to these other methods of memory recovery. Until this changes it seems reasonable to focus on the studies that do exist.

People have remembered past forgotten events in their lives in and out of therapy and without prompting. The studies do exist. Here is a quote from a previous post by me on this subject.
quote:
Here are four studies that Michelle described and cited 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


Please do read Michelle's report. And mine while you are at it…

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 - 12/20/2005 :  17:58:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Kil
quote:
dv82matt:
Isn't this the central issue in the false/recovered memory debate though?
No. The debate is over whether traumatic memories can be repressed for a period of time and then remembered. The memory wars are about that.
Yes, I realize that, but, at least potentially, one of the main lines of evidence that traumatic events can be repressed and later remembered accurately would be through the use of hypnosis or regressive therapy techniques.

This is why regressive techniques/hypnosis are central to the debate IMO.
quote:
I am no fan of “recovered memory therapy.” I think that any therapy that involves regressive techniques should be considered with a great deal of skepticism, including hypnosis. But I also believe that under certain conditions a memory can be lost to its owner.
I think that we are in agreement on this.
quote:
People have remembered past forgotten events in their lives in and out of therapy and without prompting. The studies do exist. Here is a quote from a previous post by me on this subject.
quote:
Here are four studies that Michelle described and cited 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.

From Michelle's description I was under the impression that these studies were mainly to do with the effect of repressed memories on the psyche, not specifically with the accuracy of recovered memories. I haven't read the actual studies though, so perhaps I got the wrong impression.
quote:
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
Interesting, but again from the snippets provided it seems to deal mainly with the effects of repressing traumatic events not with the accuracy of recovered memories. That is, the memory may be "real" but that doesn't mean it's accurate.

I suspect that we are actually in agreement but perha
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13457 Posts

Posted - 12/20/2005 :  21:33:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
dv82matt:
From Michelle's description I was under the impression that these studies were mainly to do with the effect of repressed memories on the psyche, not specifically with the accuracy of recovered memories. I haven't read the actual studies though, so perhaps I got the wrong impression.


What is most significant about the studies Michelle cited is that they seem to demonstrate that repression happens. The FMSF and many of its supporters are hostile to the idea that a memory can be repressed. The closest they are willing to come to acknowledging any kind of lost memory is to say that some seemingly lost memories were basically available to its owner but just not thought about for a while, for whatever reason. If they can make that position stick, they will have successfully cast a serious doubt on any claim to a recovered memory. Most recovered memories, in or out of therapy, would be almost certainly be considered false by default. We find their position to be problematic in light of the many studies that support repression.

quote:

There were sections where I was unclear what point was being made, so perhaps I missed some things.


The other problem we have, and what the articles were also about is the idea of a “False Memory Syndrome.” We do not believe they have made a very convincing case for the existence of an identifiable syndrome based on the symptoms they have suggested.

My problem is with skeptics who, in my view, have latched on to the views of the FMSF out of convenience and not out of any serious attempt at thinking through the problems that are being raised by them.

That pretty much sums up what we wrote about.

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 - 12/20/2005 :  22:40:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message
Thanks for the explanation Kil.

I do understand that for the points you and Michelle were making in your respective articles hypnosis and regressive therapy are not central, but they are important in the broader false vs recovered memory debate.

I'd love to debate you on the issues that you raise in your article, the only snag is that I agree with you.
Edited by - dv82matt on 12/20/2005 22:47:34
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ronnywhite
SFN Regular

501 Posts

Posted - 01/19/2006 :  00:46:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send ronnywhite a Private Message
Kil-
As a working student in the early 80's, I briefly met Bertram Karon, PhD. Dr. Karon was a reputable research psychologist who'd written an award-winning book on psychotherapy, as well as articles on the topic of the thread at hand. Despite his acclaim, I recall finding numerous opinions he rendered questionable. Even as a young adult who was probably more naive than most my age, I was awful skeptical of what he had to say (despite his renowned professional status, and my "above average" awe of authority figures at that young age) some of which made me wonder just how much time he'd managed to spend outside of his ivory tower.

Well, what the Skeptical Inquirer had to say about his research (15 years later) wasn't surprising- and that especially includes how he is described as responding to questioning of his claims, including asking him to explain inconsistencies that would raise doubts...

http://www.csicop.org/si/2003-05/repressed.html

From the linked article: here's Karon's response when confronted with a completely reasonable question by an investigator regarding the basis of his claim...

"I do not have time to teach you how to read"

I recalled his speaking of the loss of his brother during WWII even during my limited contact with him, so it appears to have been an issue of very profound significance to him at a personal level, and likely relates to the nature of his study cited in the article. At least in some instances, there seems to be as much emotion as science going into such research. All of this leads me to 2 conclusions- (1) one shouldn't take a PhD or other authority's word as "unquestionable truth" regardless of how deified they've been by their peers, and (2) if a guy with as much professional stature as Karon can be as mistaken regarding these matters as he appeared to me then (with what Skeptical Inquirer has to say more recently giving me no reason to retract my youthful assessment) I can imagine just how far-fetched the opinions of mainstream clinical psychologists (of the type who might appear in courts) might be, as similarly skewed by personal factors to some extent, given the level of subjective influence their personal mindsets seem to play in these matters.

(edited to add quote from article and change typing errors : )

Ron White
Edited by - ronnywhite on 01/19/2006 03:57:15
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