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Suppression and Memory for Childhood Traumatic Events: Trauma Symptoms and Non-Disclosure

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Date Published

This paper discusses the authors findings on suppression and memory of childhood traumatic events across two studies.


Based on the authors’ longitudinal studies of memory and disclosure in child maltreatment victims who are now adults, the authors discuss findings relevant to “repressed memory cases.” Across two studies involving separate samples, the authors find evidence for memory suppression rather than repression: (1) Most adults who claimed temporary lost memory of CSA reported memory suppression and clarified that they could have remembered the event if asked; (2) subjective forgetting was positively associated with accurate objective memory for maltreatment-related experiences. Subjective forgetting was also related to increased adult trauma symptoms and related to childhood non-disclosure of CSA. Moreover, trauma-related psychopathology mediated the relation between non-disclosure and subjective forgetting. Implications for psychological theory and repressed memory cases are discussed. The authors examined relations between self-report of temporarily lost memory of CSA (subjective forgetting) and memory accuracy for maltreatment-related experiences (objective memory). Self-reported lost memory of child sexual abuse (CSA) can be mistaken for “repressed memory.” (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2023