Oversimplifications and misrepresentations in the repressed memory debate: a reply to Ross

Henry Otgaar, Olivier Dodier, Maryanne Garry, Mark L. Howe, Elizabeth F. Loftus, Steven Jay Lynn, Ivan Mangiulli, Richard J. McNally, Lawrence Patihis

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Ross argued that false memory researchers misunderstand the concepts of repression and dissociation, as well as the writings of Freud. In this commentary, we show that Ross is wrong. He oversimplifies and misrepresents the literature on repressed and false memory. We rebut Ross by showing the fallacies underlying his arguments. For example, we adduce evidence showing that the notions of dissociation or repression are unnecessary to explain how people may forget and then remember childhood sexual abuse, stressing that abuse survivors may reinterpret childhood events later in life. Also, Ross overlooks previous critiques concerning dissociation. Finally, we will demonstrate that Ross misrepresents work by Freud and Loftus in the area of repressed and false memory. His article confuses, not clarifies, an already heated debate on the existence of repressed memory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-126
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child Sexual Abuse
Issue number1
Early online date13 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • repressed memory
  • false memory
  • repression
  • dissociation


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