Reports of recovered memories in therapy in undergraduate students

Lawrence Patihis, Ryan S. Wood, Mark H. Pendergrast, Mario E. Herrera

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Psychologists have debated the wisdom of recovering traumatic memories in therapy that were previously unknown to the client, with some concerns over accuracy and memory distortions. The current study surveyed a sample of 576 undergraduates in the south of the United States. Of 188 who reported attending therapy or counselling, 8% reported coming to remember memories of abuse, without any prior recollection of that abuse before therapy. Of those who reported recovered memories, 60% cut off contact with some of their family. Within those who received therapy, those who had a therapist discuss the possibility of repressed memory were 28.6 times more likely to report recovered memories, compared to those who received therapy without such discussion. These findings mirror a previous survey of US adults and suggest attempts to recover repressed memories in therapy may continue in the forthcoming generation of adults.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-147
Number of pages19
JournalPsychological Reports
Issue number1
Early online date11 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • recovered memory
  • childhood abuse
  • psychotherapy
  • memory wars
  • repressed memory
  • dissociative amnesia


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