The Recovered Memory Debate Continues in Europe

The Recovered Memory Debate Continues in Europe: Evidence From the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, and Germany

Journal: Clinical Psychological Science;


Julia Shaw, Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London

Annelies Vredeveldt, Department of Criminal Law and Criminology, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Clinical Psychological Science publishes advances in clinical science and provides a venue for cutting-edge research across a wide range of conceptual views, approaches, and topics.


The article examines the extent to which recovered memory is questioned across Europe.


Patihis and Pendergrast (2018; this issue) presented evidence that in the United States, “the debate over repressed memories of childhood abuse is not resolved” (p. xx). We supplement this statement and point to evidence that assumptions of repressed and recovered memories of childhood abuse are also still prevalent in Europe. Primary research conducted by Shaw, Leonte, Ball, and Felstead (2017) helps to substantiate this claim. Theirs was the first study to systematically analyze a large database of cases from the United Kingdom in which the issue of false memory was raised. A random sample of 496 cases was analyzed from an archive of cases collected by the British False Memory Society (BFMS) since 1993 that contains more than 2,500 cases. The BFMS is similar to the False Memory Syndrome Foundation in the United States. It is a charity that provides support to those who claim they have been falsely accused of a crime on the basis of a false memory, dealing mostly with claims related to historical child sexual abuse.


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