The reality of recovered memories: corroborating continuous and discontinuous memories of childhood sexual abuse

E.G. Geraerts*, J. Schooler, H.L.G.J. Merckelbach, M. Jelicic, B. Hauer, Z. Ambadar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Although controversy surrounds the relative authenticity of discontinuous versus continuous memories of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), little is known about whether such memories differ in their likelihood of corroborative evidence. Individuals reporting CSA memories were interviewed, and two independent raters attempted to find corroborative information for the allegations. Continuous CSA memories and discontinuous memories that were unexpectedly recalled outside therapy were more likely to be corroborated than anticipated discontinuous memories recovered in therapy. Evidence that suggestion during therapy possibly mediates these differences comes from the additional finding that individuals who recalled the memories outside therapy were markedly more surprised at the existence of their memories than were individuals who initially recalled the memories in therapy. These results indicate that discontinuous CSA memories spontaneously retrieved outside of therapy may be accurate, while implicating expectations arising from suggestions during therapy in producing false CSA memories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-568
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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