Book Report: Repressed Memory

Pages: 5 (1490 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Psychology  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Patients who believe they were abused will invest more and more money into their doctors and therapists, and more and more money into the drugs that will help them "cope" with their trauma.

The myth of repressed memory impedes healthy psychological healing, too. Loftus and Ketcham point out how paranoid and traumatized people were when they first started collecting evidence for the book. Rather than focus on the genuine root causes of psychological problems like addiction, depression, or anxiety, the individual scapegoats a relative or teacher and then works on "that" issue, as if blaming someone else provides a salve for their current problems. There is no salve, though. The act of false blaming and false memory serves the opposite purpose of what it is intended to do, which is to provide a cathartic healing. False memory creates more problems than it solves, and Loftus and Ketcham finally do convince the reader that false memory is a problem. False memory can even be considered a menace, and a public health concern, given how it impedes honest psychological interventions.

The chapter titles of The Myth of Repressed Memory are critical to understanding the authors' point-of-view. Titles like "Loose Spirits," God's Beard and the Devil's Horns," and "Casting out Demons" suggest witch doctors and quackery. The authors invoke a medieval and ignorant view of psychology, from a world in which mental illness was considered a matter for priests and not psychologists. There was a time, not so long ago, when women were burned at the stake for being different. Mental illnesses have been considered demonic possessions, and still are in some parts of the world. Loftus and Ketcham warn their readers about the perils of stepping backwards into an irrational universe.

False repressed memories ruin lives. The authors take care to underscore this point periodically throughout The Myth of Repressed Memory. Indeed, as the reader progresses through The Myth of Repressed Memory, it becomes clear that one of the main motives for writing the book is to warn against witch-hunts and false convictions. Loftus and Ketcham have seen one too many false accusations and are in the position of warning the public about the problem. This is why the authors, both of whom are highly decorated in terms of experience and professional accreditation, elected to publish The Myth of Repressed Memory as a trade book for regular consumers. Both authors have already published a litany of scholarly materials for the ivory tower and research set; this is the book for the consumer.

For the psychologist, The Myth of Repressed Memory is a particularly harsh warning. The authors come close to directly accusing those who perpetuate the problem of planting memories of fraud and ethical infractions. They would be right. The ethical parameters of the profession prevent fraud and quackery. If repressed memory cases are false, and if psychologists are planting memories, those acts can certainly be considered unethical from any philosophical perspective. From the perspective of those who are falsely accused, the accusations can harm them irreparably. From the perspective of the clients, the psychological damage can likewise be irreversible. Imagine suddenly believing your father or uncle molested you; even the false memory could impede one's ability to trust. The repressed memory could become a significant source of stress, leading of course, to more sessions with the therapist.

After reading The Myth of Repressed Memories, the repressed memory phenomenon seems sinister. The initial suspicion of the title testifies to the deep-rooted cultural variables that are at play and which Pettus (2008) alludes to. Somehow, whether it is through film or gothic literature, people in North America have become fascinated with the theme of amnesia. The infatuation with the unconscious, fueled by Freud, also contributes to a fascination with what our minds are capable of, and what a hold our unconscious selves have on our daily lives. Interest in Jung and other theorists of the sub- and unconscious also foment interest in repressed memories. Therefore, to fully understand the importance of Loftus and Ketcham's work, it is necessary to place their writing (and the phenomenon they address) into cultural and historical perspective. When viewed with the lens of truth and context, it is apparent that false memories themselves are but a dream.


Loftus, E. & Ketcham, K. (1994). The Myth of Repressed Memory. New York: St. Martin's.

Pettus, A. (2008). Repressed… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Repressed Memory.  (2012, November 10).  Retrieved August 23, 2019, from

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"Repressed Memory."  10 November 2012.  Web.  23 August 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Repressed Memory."  November 10, 2012.  Accessed August 23, 2019.