Memory Reconstruction and False Memories
Research indicates that our memories may be more feasible than we would like to imagine.
Memory research on healthy adults suggests that memories are not stored as videotapes or exact
copies of the past, but instead depend on constructive processes that are sometimes prone to
distortion. In the last 10-20 years, there has been much controversy surrounding recovered or
repressed memories. Some psychologists accept the idea that memories of traumatic events can
be repressed or “pushed into unconsciousness,” and that these memories can resurface at a later
date. However others are more skeptical about recovered memory claims, stating that false
memories can be implanted, either intentionally or unintentionally. Elizabeth Loftus is a highly
respected scientist who has written extensively on this latter view.
Read the Web sites listed below (and any additional ones you find), and then write an essay of at
least 800 words. Your essay should include pertinent topics, such as those listed below.
● What is False Memory Syndrome and how are false memories generated (according to
● What is Recovered Memory Therapy (RMT)?
● What is the evidence that would make one be skeptical of “recovered memories?”
● What implications might the research on memory reconstruction have for the credibility
of “repressed” memories (e.g. of sexual/physical abuse in childhood) that are uncovered
● Does this credibility of repressed memories have any relationship to the type of questions
or statements posed to the client/patient by the therapist? Explain.
● Lastly, be sure to include your opinion on the issue (with support, of course) of whether
recovered memories are likely to be false or genuine, and how you can tell in any given
● If a repressed memory is simply a reconstructed (or false) memory that a person firmly
believes is true, how can you explain how this reconstructed memory was created?
Information on a famous false memory case:
Links and information about false memory: http://socialecology.uci.edu/faculty/eloftus/