False memory exists, say psychologists

January 13, 1995

Many British psychologists accept the possibility of false memories, according to a survey by the British Psychological Society.

Of 810 chartered psychologists responding, two-thirds accepted the possibility of false memories and more than one in seven believed that their own clients had experienced false memories, according to preliminary findings announced yesterday.

The survey was launched last year amid fierce debate among psychologists worldwide. In one high profile case in the United States last year a father, Gary Ramona, was awarded $500,000 in damages after a jury agreed that therapists had planted false memories of childhood incest in the mind of his daughter.

Pressure groups such as Britain's False Memory Society have been launched to represent parents who claim they have been falsely accused of child abuse.

The BPS says there is no good evidence that the accusers have "invariably" recovered memories from total amnesia.

Bernice Andrews of Royal Holloway and Bedford New College and an author of the BPS report, Recovered Memories, says the public thinks therapists "are putting things into the minds of patients" and that qualified psychologists automatically believe recovered memories are true. Our survey shows that very few accredited psychologists use hypnosis in any case. Compared to those who do not use hypnosis, those that do are twice as likely to believe that they have had false memories in their own practice."

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework