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Do We Really Forget Trauma?

Article Index
Do We Really Forget Trauma?
Science and therapy
Citings of the Williams research.
The Real Williams Study
Do the data mean that the women have completely repressed their memories of abuse?
What do the data say about remembering
and repressing secretive incestuous abuse?
What do the data say about remembering and repressing repeated episodes of abuse?
Do they data tell us that people repress abuse and then reliably recover it later?

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (Dec, l994)

Forgetting sexual trauma: what does it mean when 38% forget?
Elizabeth F.Loftus, Maryanne Garry, Julie Feldman University of Washington


The prospective study of Williams' reveals that 38% of women do not report an incident of childhood sexual abuse that occurred decades earlier and was documented in hospital records.  Apparently they forgot.  This finding has been widely cited and miscited in the professional and popular literature, prior to formal publication.  The study constitutes evidence that people sometimes do not recall traumas from their past.  It does not provide evidence for some other claims, for example, that a string of repeated abuses is routinely repressed and then reliably recovered a long time afterward.