The Controversy of False Memory Syndrome

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  • Topic: Psychological trauma, Memory, Repressed memory
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False memory syndrome

The Controversy of False Memory Syndrome
Sigrid Jacquez
PS 101 Introduction to Psychology
Dr. Diane Bryan
May 1, 2009


I. Introduction
II. Abstract
III. The negative views of ineffective therapy
A. Psychologist induced suggestions
B. Hypnosis
C. Vulnerabilities
IV. The positive view of effective therapeutic therapy A. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) B. Alleviation of mental disorders

V. Conclusion

A major controversy is occurring in the mental health field regarding the different methods of therapy in order to retrieve suppressed memories from clients who are experiencing mental disorders. There is a large list of emotional mental disorders, to name a few can range from depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic attacks and childhood trauma. The problem is in which method of recovered memory therapy is most effective and valid.

False memory syndrome can be a factual memory created out of an experience that never existed. Depending on the memory it may be stored in a separate region of the brain. Memories that involve a traumatic incident like; (fear, anger, rejection, betrayal, childhood abuse) can become a suppressed memory stored in the area of the brain called the node. The importance of recalling an actual memory is critical in order to provide valuable treatment to the client. There are many regression therapies available but at the therapist’s discretion can choose hypnosis (not a reliable source), or Eye movement Desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Studies have proven EMDR is a useful tool to help a person who is suffering from memories involved in a traumatic experience.

Con: Psychologist induced suggestions
An example of False Memory Syndrome (FMS) according Bonn (1997) Elizabeth Loftus is a well known professor of psychology is an expert on (FMS) and is well aware of the controversy problem that stems from trauma that was retrieved during early childhood, and has no doubt that abuse does occur. One of the concerns that professor Loftus has is with methods used to retrieve repressed memories from childhood trauma such as; “Memory Work” techniques used in role play, dream work, hypnosis, visualization group therapy and suggestion by a therapist.

Con: Hypnosis
As an example provided by (Martin Gardner 370) therapists may decide to use the method of hypnosis for a person who has suffered from childhood sexual trauma and has repressed memories will be urged repeatedly to remember details of the childhood event even if it is only a fragment of a memory. To aid in the hypnosis the therapists may help facilitate these memories and while under hypnosis the client is persuaded into coming up with details of the traumatic event. Because the client may be highly suggestible in this relaxed state, the client may see images that are completely new. With the constant prodding of the therapist to give details, it is not uncommon for the client to give a very detailed account of childhood molestation. This convinces both the client and the therapist that the memory must be true in order for the client to come up with such a dramatic detail. But to a better trained psychiatrist, says Gardner (370), these details only indicate the opposite. “Childhood memories are notoriously vague, by recalling minute details is a strong sign of fantasizing”. Hypnosis is the power of suggestion towards a client with an open mind who is under the influence of hypnosis. There are individuals who become easily absorbed in imaginative activity (Barnier & McConkey, 2004; Silva & Kirch, 1992). In my opinion, it would be safe to say some people are more susceptible to acting out or playing along...
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