Elizabeth Loftus finds that repressed memories are often false memories

August 2017

In the 1990s, a rising number of criminal cases were spurred by the pretense that a crime victim had suffered at the hands of a perpetrator, but had repressed the memory for years or even decades.

At the time, Elizabeth Loftus, now a distinguished professor at the School of Social Ecology, didn't buy it.

"I could really find no credible scientific support for the idea that memory works this way," Loftus told the Good Men Project. "That you could take years of brutalization, banish it into the unconscious, and be completely unaware of it by some process that is beyond ordinary forgetting – and that you could remember these experiences completely accurately later on."

"And so I began to ask, 'Well, if these memories aren’t real, (If there is no credible support for the idea that memory works this way) where could these memories have come from?'  I began to dig through literature, and examples, ultimately court cases, and would discover that some of these memories were being created by highly suggestive psychotherapy procedures."

Read the interview.