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Betrayal Trauma and Memory The Link between “repression” and “recovery” of memories and life threatening betrayal.

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Presentation on theme: "Betrayal Trauma and Memory The Link between “repression” and “recovery” of memories and life threatening betrayal."— Presentation transcript:

1 Betrayal Trauma and Memory The Link between “repression” and “recovery” of memories and life threatening betrayal

2 Background - Sexual Abuse Historically, reported statistics varied –Kinsey (1953) 1 in 4 women reported childhood sexual abuse –Weinberg (1955) 1 to 2 cases of incest per year, per each million U.S. citizens –Finkelhor (1975) 19% females and 9% males –Henderson (1975) 1.1 to 1.9 per million people –Timnick (1985) 27% females, 16% males –Russel (1986) 16% of females were were sexually abused prior to 18 years old –Pope and Hudson (1995) 10% of women and 5% of men endured serious childhood abuse. (14 million adults in the US)

3 Background – Lost and Recovered Memory Disparity between clinical practitioners and laboratory/cognitive scientists regarding memory. –Clinicians reporting loss and then recovery of traumatic memories Pierre Janet (1889), Breuer and Freud (1893), WW I - Meyers (1915), Southard (1919) WW II – Sargant and Slater (1941) Vietnam War – van der Kolk, 1987

4 Background – Lost and Recovered Memory False Memory Syndrome –1980’s Day-Care Abuse “Hysteria” Kern County, McMartin, Wee Care… ReligiousTolerance.org –Lawrence Wright – The New Yorker, 1993 “Remembering Satan” –Ingram case (Olympia) »Confession followed by recantation by accused perpetrator »Presented as modern day Salem Witch Trial –Wright inferred that he had documented 1000’s of cases of cases of false accusations. –In Ethics on Trial: Trash and Flash Threaten to Corrupt the American Media,Judith Herman noted that when confronted, Wright answered that he had only documented “one” case. The Facade of Scientific Documentation –Many cognitive scientists also rejected concept of delayed recall or accuracy of retrieved memories. They had not experienced it in laboratory conditions. Link to Elizabeth Loftus article, 1995

5 Background – Lost and Recovered Memory –In 1990’s Cognitive Scientists start to take Recovered Memory seriously Freyd, in 1996, published “Betrayal Trauma” –Airline near-collision story –Clarified/standardized terminology and techniques –Utilized and expanded latest knowledge related to memory –Eliminated diminutive terminology when referring to victims Mechanic, Resnick and Griffen in 1998 studied memory in 92 rape victims –Within 2 weeks following rape 37% of the subjects experienced significant amnesia –At 3 months only 16% of the completing subjects had significant amnesia –Conclusions: »Following rape there is a high incidence of recovered memory »Amnesia and recovered memory occur more often in response to victimization by known perpetrators »Dissociation, but not ordinary memory processes like forgetting seems to play a primary role in the encoding, storage and retrieval of traumatic memories

6 Substantiated Case Information of Recovered Memories Brown University Site - Case information and Scholarly ResearchBrown University Site - Case information and Scholarly Research

7 Betrayal Trauma Jennifer Freyd, PhD, University of Oregon –University of Oregon - LinkUniversity of Oregon - Link

8 Betrayal Tauma Addresses both How and Why we forget traumatic experiences. –How Narrative memory bypassed When recalled, majority of subjects report that they initially experienced their memories as sensations and affects –Why (Think, “survival!”) Normal trauma (remembered) –Important to remember the event, so as not to repeat it Betrayal Trauma (not remembered) –Two dimensional model »Terror and threats to life – bodily harm »Betrayal and threats to social survival –Childhood sexual abuse is more likely to be forgotten if it is perpetrated by a parent or trusted caregiver in order for the victim to preserve the attachment.

9 Freyd's Two-Dimensional Model for Traumatic Events

10 Understanding Mechanisms - How Traditional model of memory –Conceptualized as a “thing” –Looks at memory as coherent, single, system –Encoding, storing, retrieval A more recent view of memory –A component of a multitude of other systems –Brain is multifaceted For each type of learning there is associated memory PET scans – provide evidence that information stored in memory is linked to related mental mechanisms “Object Knowledge”, “Multiple modules processing events in parallel” Roe and Schwartz (1996) –60% of their abused inpatients reported their first recovered memory of abuse as somatosensory flashback.

11 Freyd - Mental Processing Clusters Abuse from parent Conversation in next room Insect on skin Tactile perception / memory Social event comprehension / memory Learning parenting skills Cheater Detector (negative affect) External events Mental processing clusters

12 Selective Attention J. Ridley Stroop (1935) – impact of intrusive information and automatic processing in attempts at selective attention. aaa b cccccc ddd eeeee f gggg hhh iiiii jjj

13 Selective Attention J. Ridley Stroop (1935) – impact of intrusive information and automatic processing in attempts at selective attention

14 Besel A. van der Kolk effects of emotional arousal on declarative memory Prefrontal Cortex (integration and Planning) Hippocampus (cognitive maps) Amygdala (significance) Thalamus (sensory input) Sensory Organs

15 Freyd - Mental Processing Clusters (with informational blockages) Abuse from parent Conversation in next room Insect on skin Tactile perception / memory Social event comprehension / memory Learning parenting skills Cheater Detector (negative affect) External events Mental processing clusters X X X

16 In Summary Freyd –Abuse and interpersonal victimization is a staggering problem Some people forget the abuse Forgetting is more likely when the perpetrator was a care giver Memory accuracy is separate from memory persistence People have unscientific and biased ideas about these issues

17 In Summary Freyd –What needs to change? We need to stop confusing the persistence of a memory with its accuracy because there is no compelling evidence that a memory is more or less accurate if it is continuous compared with recovered There is evidence that memories are more likely to be forgotten if the perpetrator is a care giver


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