Skeptic News: It's more complicated than that…

By Keir Liddle

Previously Skeptic News covered reports that Benny Samuel, convicted of raping his daughter in 2008, had an appeal against his conviction rejected on the basis of repressed memories. However we had contacted one of the experts involved in the trial seeking comment and clarification on the issue.

We have just received word from them and they have confirmed for us that the reporting of the piece in the Jerusalem Post was somewhat inaccurate. The conviction was not made and the appeal not refused on the grounds of evidence gathered from a repressed memory rather it was contended that the dream was a symptom of PTSD.

As Eli Somer, one of the experts in the trial states:

The issues addressed in the trial are more complex, as you can imagine, than presenting them as another battle between the good and the bad guys engaged in the memory wars.

What we showed the court, based on the materials provided to us (e.g., diaries, therapy records, etc.) was that the memory in question was never actually repressed (and therefore should be regarded as recovered) and that the dream was a typical post-traumatic nightmare, as per DSM criteria. The court had other evidence to consider, not just the experts’ opinions.  The three-judge panel ruled unanimously.

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0 Responses to Skeptic News: It's more complicated than that…

  1. Pingback: The 21st Floor » Blog Archive » Skeptic News: Repressed memory?

  2. This highlights one of the questions often raised about the repressed memory phenomenon. If people are repeatedly imagining terrible things that didn’t actually happen, what is actually wrong to have caused this? Too often such people are assumed to be malicious or to be the victims of self-serving therapists when in fact they may have serious mental health problems and may, in some cases, be reacting to genuine trauma in their pasts.

    Another problem is the compounding of several similar but distinct phenomena under the ‘repressed memory’ banner. I personally spent around twenty years struggling with traumatic memories from early childhood that I didn’t want to face. They weren’t truly repressed, in that I was always aware of them and thy were consistent, but I couldn’t let myself think about them. Therapists tell me that this is something they often encounter in clients. It’s very different from forgetting something and then remembering it again later, after prompting.

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