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Jade Hipworth


Tutor Leah hodson

Convenor Carleen Thompson

Should evidence of repressed memory be allowed in court? Discuss using psychological theory and

research to support your argument.

.Repressed memory refers to a memory of experience, especially a traumatic one that is recalled after

an often lengthy period of time. Much controversy is raised to the question about repressed memory

being used as evidence in court. In this essay it is argued that repressed memory should not be used as

evidence in court. The main arguments are presented against the validity of repressed memory used as

evidence in court. Firstly, evidence that suggests that people use repressed memory as a use of

financial gain within the court system. Second, research shows the unreliability of repressed memory.

Third, it is difficult to distinguish false memories from true memories. And finally why repressed

memories shouldn’t be used in court.

First argument against the use of repressed memory in court is the financial gain that has been

reported of people who have used repressed memory in court, because it has been highly reported in

the media that cases have arose after years from a repressed memory that an individual has had the

financial incentive was awarded in the court settlement many people use false memories to receive the

same verdict.

Secondly the argument against is the validity of repressed memory is the vadility itself. There has

been claims of people having false memory syndrome (fms) an example of this is in the USA when

George Franklin was accused of rape based on repressed memories that his daughter had remember

however these memories we found to be repressed under hypnosisand the case was dismissed. In

America the is a foundation known as False Memory Syndrome Foundation

Thirdly is has been quoted the repressed memory can be reproduced as quoted “we are in full

agreement with Bartlett, who says: 'In fact, if we consider evidence rather than presupposition,

remembering appears to be far more decisively an affair of construction rather than one of mere

reproduction'" (p. 656).Bartlett because it has been quoted that repressed memories can be

reconstructed their are member of boards who have done scientific research to prove this. Such

membership is the false memory syndrome Foundation it has been quoted that

Two of the founding Scientific and Professional Advisory Board members cited as validating evidence

for false memory syndrome "the empirical data the FMS Foundation has from 12, 000 families"

(Wakefield & Underwager, 1994, p. 98).

Many research such as course, reports therapists have supported that false memory syndrome has

affect many individuals and families as quoted "false memory syndrome has reached epidemic

proportions" (Goldstein & Farmer, 1993, p. 9)

Scientific research plays an important part in validity the use of repressed memory because without

this research their would be no doubt in the use of repressed memory in court which can lead to an


Fourth argument is repressed memories can be induced Memories can be built and reconstructed on

extra information, ideas or opinions (Loftus 1994; Geraerts 2009; McNally 2009)Hypnosis is not

admissible in court and in America repressed memeories from hypnosis is admissible. It is performed

by a psychologists and it doesn’t aid accuracy and they are unconscious., It is possible to create false

memories in people's minds by suggestion Evidence of repressed memory should not be used as

evidence in court. However, it is clear that memory is not absolute.

Repressed memories can be induced as it has been claimed by Memory researchers such as Elizabeth

Loftus have shown that false memories can be implanted fairly easily in the laboratory. In The Myth

of Repressed Memory, Loftus assigning a project to students in her cognitive psychology class. The

project involved implanting a false memory in someone's mind. One of the students chose his fourteen

year old brother as his test subject. The student wrote about four events his brother had supposedly

experienced. Three of the experiences really happened, but the fourth one was a fake event of the

boy getting lost at the mall at age five. For the next five days the younger

brother was asked to read about his experiences (written by his older brother)

and then write down details that he could remember about them. The younger

brother "remembered" his shopping-mall experience quite well, describing

details elaborately. However this was the false memory .

In conclusion repressed memory is the use of memories being retrieved after a long period of

time it shouldn’t be used in a court room setting. Evidence has shown that repressed memory

should not be used in court because of the validity. Their is no strong evidence that supports

the validity of repressed memories and if the memory is true or false, It also shows the

memory can be forced and the mind can be seen as playing tricks on the individual when it is

manipulated. Research has also shown that some indivduals have used the thought of

repressed memory for financial gain and even lesser sentences. Because in a court setting the

verdict is based on a reasonable doubt it can be said that repressed memory doesn’t support

the reasonable doubt theory. With all this evidence it is clear that repressed memory shouldn’t

be used in court.


Loftus, Elizabeth and Ketcham, Katherine. "The Myth of Repressed Memory: False

Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse". St. Martin's Griffin, 1st St. Martin's Griffin ed

edition, 1996.

Bartol.C & Bartol. A (2004). Psychology and Law: Theory, Research and Application (3rd

edition). Wadsworth/Thompson Learning; Belmont, CA.

Loftus. E.F & Ketcham. K (1994). The Myth of Repressed Memory. N.Y: St Martins Press.

Pope, K. S. & Singer, J. L. (1978b). The stream of consciousness: Scientific

investigations into the flow of human experience. New York: Plenum Press.

Wakefield, H. & Underwager, R. (1994). Return of the furies: An investigation into recovered

memory therapy. Chicago: Open Court.

Goldstein, E. & Farmer, K. (1994). Confabulations: Creating false memories,

destroying families. Boca Raton, FL: SIRS Books.