The Psychology of Trauma

The Psychological Impact of Trauma

Are traumatic memories really repressed?

There has been a good deal of controversy over the issue of repressed memories. Many researchers and clinicians have written about patients who lost access to their memories of abuse, only to recover them years later. Often the recovery of memories is associated with a surge of intrusive post-traumatic symptoms, such as nightmares, emotional outbursts, and even suicidality. In the 1980s and 1990s this concern with repressed memories of trauma exploded into a hysterical craze in which accusations flew and innocent people were charged with crimes that were suddenly “remembered” in psychotherapy. Partly in response to this excess, there are factions within the mental health field that discount the possibility of recovered memories at all. Professionals who work with adult survivors of childhood trauma, however, often encounter patients who recover childhood memories long after the traumatic events have occurred.


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