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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Harvey Weinstein’s ‘false memory’ defense is not backed by science

Anne DePrince & Joan Cook
The Conversation
Originally posted 10 Feb 20

Here is an excerpt:

In 1996, pioneering psychologist Jennifer Freyd introduced the concept of betrayal trauma. She made plain how forgetting, not thinking about and even mis-remembering an assault may be necessary and adaptive for some survivors. She argued that the way in which traumatic events, like sexual violence, are processed and remembered depends on how much betrayal there is. Betrayal happens when the victim depends on the abuser, such as a parent, spouse or boss. The victim has to adapt day-to-day because they are (or feel) stuck in that relationship. One way that victims can survive is by thinking or remembering less about the abuse or telling themselves it wasn’t abuse.

Since 1996, compelling scientific evidence has shown a strong relationship between amnesia and victims’ dependence on abusers. Psychologists and other scientists have also learned much about the nature of memory, including memory for traumas like sexual assault. What gets into memory and later remembered is affected by a host of factors, including characteristics of the person and the situation. For example, some individuals dissociate during or after traumatic events. Dissociation offers a way to escape the inescapable, such that people feel as if they have detached from their bodies or the environment. It is not surprising to us that dissociation is linked with incomplete memories.

Memory can also be affected by what other people do and say. For example, researchers recently looked at what happened when they told participants not to think about some words that they had just studied. Following that instruction, those who had histories of trauma suppressed more memories than their peers did.

The info is here.