Repressed memory: Did it happen or not?

September 2017

For decades, Elizabeth Loftus, distinguished professor of social ecology, has been at the center of the national debate about false memories. In 1995, she published a landmark study in which participants were told they had an experience of being lost in a mall as a child. Many people subsequently "remembered" the experience.

This and other studies reflect way memory works, according to Loftus: something that can be added to and edited by others. The science, she says, doesn't support the idea of repressed memories.

"There is no credible evidence for it," she told The Guardian. "Some day, we may be able to find it. But that you take this chunk of traumatic feelings and wall it off, and it resides there in some pristine form? It leaks and makes you do bad things and have symptoms, and you need to peel away this layer of repression? No."

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