Less Is Sometimes More in Therapy: Avoiding the False Memory Syndrome.Report as inadecuate

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Many individuals may be limited in their ability to retrieve clear memories of positive, recurring, childhood experiences. In order to ascertain the generability of this phenomenon, researchers asked college students (n=340) whether they could recall ever having sat on a parent's lap when they were under five years of age. As predicted, only a minority (12 per cent) of the students sampled reported the ability to remember being held by a parent. These findings are consistent with cognitive research which suggests that memory operates in selective ways. There is an evolutionary advantage to such selectivity, as a complete memory record of each and every life event would be too wasteful: individuals only need to remember elements they must learn from and the lessons acquired. Consequently, many individuals' recollections may have a negative bias because traumatic or novel experiences are disproportionately encoded. Clinical conclusions based on such inaccurate information could often themselves be misleading and potentially untherapeutic. Upon hearing disproportionately about the painful and negative experiences in a client's past, the clinician may be swayed to think of the client as unusually deprived. If such portrayals are communicated to clients, they may adulterate the clients' own reconstructions of their pasts, and foster inaccurate beliefs of having been disadvantaged or victimized. (Contains six references.) (TS)

Descriptors: Client Characteristics (Human Services), Counselor Client Relationship, Counselor Evaluation, Higher Education, Human Relations, Life Events, Long Term Memory, Memory, Parent Child Relationship, Psychological Evaluation, Psychotherapy, Recall (Psychology)

Author: Chambliss, Catherine

Source: https://eric.ed.gov/?q=a&ft=on&ff1=dtySince_1992&pg=8858&id=ED394083

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