“Repressed memories are a figment of the imagination”. Critically discuss this statement.
The concept of repression – which is the bone of contention between those who believe in the mission of recovery therapy and those who denounce it – presumes a peculiar power of the mind (Loftus and Ketchum, 1994).
The current dispute regarding the existence of repression has mainly focused on whether people remember or forget trauma. Repression, however, is a multidimensional construct, which, in addition to the memory aspect, consists of pathogenic effects on adjustment and the unconscious (Rofe´, 2008).
The challenges of memory recovery have not escaped judicial attention. Courts have increasingly found repressed memory testimony to be
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Although in some cases the authenticity of recovered memories was corroborated by other sources, this does not necessarily prove the existence of repression (Pope, 1997). The most comprehensive attempt to defend repression was made by Brown et al. (1999). Reevaluating 63 studies that Pope, Hudson, and Oliva (1998) employed to negate the existence of repression, Brown et al. claimed that these studies were misinterpreted and that at least 9 of them support the existence of repression. However, Piper et al. (2000) demonstrated that it was Brown et al. who inaccurately reviewed the studies, and pointed out that the studies that Brown et al. employed were actually a consequence of deliberate forgetting (rather than involuntary unconscious processes). Erdelyi (2006) claimed that Freud viewed repression as a conscious and deliberate process, and maintained that deliberate forgetting may cause progressive degradation of accessible memory for the target material. Erdelyi has been criticized for lack of empirical evidence (Bonanno, 2006), and, moreover McNally (2006, p. 526) notes that “by restricting repression to deliberate forgetting, Erdelyi deprives it of its distinctive psychoanalytic character”.
According to psychoanalysis, repression has a negative impact on the individual’s adjustment, resulting in psycho physiological illnesses or neurotic disorders, because