Cognitive mechanisms underlying recovered-memory experiences of childhood sexual abuse

E.G. Geraerts*, L. Stephen, H.L.G.J. Merckelbach, M. Jelicic, L. Raymaekers, A. Michellem, J. Schooler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


People sometimes report recovering long-forgotten memories of childhood sexual abuse. The memory mechanisms that lead to such reports are not well understood, and the authenticity of recovered memories has often been challenged. We identified two subgroups of people reporting recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse. These subgroups differed dramatically in their cognitive profiles: People who recovered memories of abuse through suggestive therapy exhibited a heightened susceptibility to the construction of false memories, but showed no tendency to underestimate their prior remembering. Conversely, people who recovered memories of abuse spontaneously showed a heightened proneness to forget prior incidences of remembering, but exhibited no increased susceptibility to false memories. This double dissociation points to mechanisms that underlie recovered-memory experiences and indicates that recovered memories may at times be fictitious and may at other times be authentic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-98
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

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