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Repressed memories

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Republic of the Cristo
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Repressed memories

Postby Republic of the Cristo » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:40 am

The idea of repressed memories - defined as: memories that have been unconsciously blocked due to the memory being associated with a high level of stress or trauma, as according to wikipedia - is a topic of serious debate within the psychological community. As of current, it is only a theory with no solid proof for it's existence. The psychological community is deeply divided on the issue with many of it's members calling the conflict the, Memory wars. This conflict is highlighted by an article featured in Psychology today were in it displays the experts opinions on the matter of repressed memories. The reason I bring this up is because this highly debated scientific theory has had some serious legal and life ending implications relatively recently. For example, Paul Shanely, a former Catholic priest from the Boston Archdiocese, was convicted of rape in the early 2000's. He had many accusers, however, the case which did make it was that of a 32-year old Boston firefighter, who claimed that, " he had no memory of the abuse until 2002, at age 25, when his girlfriend told him about a newspaper article on clergy sexual abuse and Mr. Shanley. " The courts accepted his claim of the account being simply a matter of repressed memories and Paul Shanely would spend the next 16 years in prison, only being recently released for good behavior. This brings up an extremely serious point of contention ( and in my opinion, danger ) about repressed memories being used in court. In my opinion, as repressed memories are only just a scientific theory which many prominent researchers in the field of psychology are skeptical of, repressed memories should not be used as a justification for witness accounts in a court case.

But what do you think NSG? Should repressed memories be permitted as evidence in court cases?
Last edited by Republic of the Cristo on Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Kenmoria » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:48 am

It is my belief that repressed memories should be permitted as evidence but, as with lip-reading in the United Kingdom, the jury and judge should be made aware of its unreliability.
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Postby New Amastan » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:01 pm

One problem I can remember reading about is the satanic ritual abuse travesty of the 80s. People had their lives ruined on the evidence of kids remembering things that never happened. There are many reasons and many people guilty of suggesting and convincing these kids to lie.

Memory is not always reliable even in direct eyewitness testimony. I recently had to speak to the police as a witness and I found myself struggling to pinpoint details when the memory was only a day old.

Given there is still no real consensus that memory repression is even a thing, this kind of testimony should not be considered proof of wrongdoing.

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Postby Purpelia » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:14 pm

It all boils down to how you think witness testimony should be treated. Personally I feel it should be allowed BUT that it should newer be permitted to be the only evidence in a case because it's not real evidence. If physical evidence does exist, testimony should be permitted to place it into context but that's all. If it does not exist the case should just be thrown out automatically.
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Postby Eternal Lotharia » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:17 pm

Quite difficult, I say that they should be given a psychological test to figure out if it's true or fake accusations to help them win a court case or make a court case.
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Postby Pope Joan » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:28 pm

These are too easily manipulated. I know personally of a practitioner who has based her practice on this, basically inventing things for her clients.
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Postby Major-Tom » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:48 pm

I'm skeptical about repressed memories in general. It was a huge thing in the 80s, but many modern psychologists are now turned off by the concept overall (it probably isn't totally invalid, but also probably isn't as valid as once thought.)

So, to use it in court cases certainly seems like it could potentially be worrisome.
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Postby Republic of the Cristo » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:51 pm

Kenmoria wrote:It is my belief that repressed memories should be permitted as evidence but, as with lip-reading in the United Kingdom, the jury and judge should be made aware of its unreliability.


In the case of Father. Shanely however, the conviction was based upon the evidence of the repressed memory. A conviction was made based solely upon this testimony.

Using repressed memories as evidence for a conviction is completely unreasonable, as the very concept of repressed memories is not even accepted by the scientific community.
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Postby Republic of the Cristo » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:58 pm

Eternal Lotharia wrote:Quite difficult, I say that they should be given a psychological test to figure out if it's true or fake accusations to help them win a court case or make a court case.



The problem lies in fake memories. Fake memories are memories created by people's mind's for any number of reasons. False memories appear real to the person in question, so a pysch evaluation would not be able to differentiate between fake or real memories.

Which is why using repressed memories as evidence in a court case is so unreasonable and should not be used either as supporting evidence or ( lord forbid ) a conviction.
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Postby Petrasylvania » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:59 pm

There's also the problem of coached memories, particularly when children are involved in a case.

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Postby 36 Camera Perspective » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:41 pm

I completely believe in the unconscious mind, but studying the unconscious is more of an art, skill, or philosophy than an exact science, and as somebody horrified by what forensic "science" has done to innocent people, I couldn't endorse the use of the unconscious as evidence in a trial.
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Postby USS Monitor » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:09 am

Repressed memories aren't proof beyond a reasonable doubt without some other corroborating evidence. It is possible for people to forget things, then retrieve the memory later when something reminds them -- but it's also possible for people to construct memories of things that never actually happened.
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Postby Kenmoria » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:20 am

Republic of the Cristo wrote:
Kenmoria wrote:It is my belief that repressed memories should be permitted as evidence but, as with lip-reading in the United Kingdom, the jury and judge should be made aware of its unreliability.


In the case of Father. Shanely however, the conviction was based upon the evidence of the repressed memory. A conviction was made based solely upon this testimony.

Using repressed memories as evidence for a conviction is completely unreasonable, as the very concept of repressed memories is not even accepted by the scientific community.

That is not acceptable evidence for conviction. Any sentencing should never be based solely upon witness testimony as they can be bribed, remember things incorrectly, or exaggerate to get a worst sentencing.
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Postby Risottia » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:39 am

Kenmoria wrote:It is my belief that repressed memories should be permitted as evidence but, as with lip-reading in the United Kingdom, the jury and judge should be made aware of its unreliability.

If it's unreliable, it cannot be considered evidence.
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Postby Kenmoria » Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:39 am

Risottia wrote:
Kenmoria wrote:It is my belief that repressed memories should be permitted as evidence but, as with lip-reading in the United Kingdom, the jury and judge should be made aware of its unreliability.

If it's unreliable, it cannot be considered evidence.

Almost every piece of evidence is in some way unreliable.
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Postby Diopolis » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:50 am

Repressed memories are the modern equivalent of spectral evidence in witchcraft trials.
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Postby Bombadil » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:56 am

Diopolis wrote:Repressed memories are the modern equivalent of spectral evidence in witchcraft trials.


Indeed, everyone knows the only true scientific method is to weigh against a duck.
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Postby Risottia » Sat Jan 13, 2018 7:18 am

Kenmoria wrote:
Risottia wrote:If it's unreliable, it cannot be considered evidence.

Almost every piece of evidence is in some way unreliable.


There's a difference between, dunno, written documentation and psychological-like mumbo-jumbo.
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Postby Kenmoria » Sat Jan 13, 2018 7:58 am

Risottia wrote:
Kenmoria wrote:Almost every piece of evidence is in some way unreliable.


There's a difference between, dunno, written documentation and psychological-like mumbo-jumbo.

Its not quite "psychological-like mumbo-jumbo" but a fairly well-documented phenomena that is supported by numerous academics.
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Postby Xmara » Sat Jan 13, 2018 7:59 am

There have been numerous cases in which repressed memories have actually been false memories implanted into the mind by psychiatrists, etc.

So no. There should be other evidence present besides memories of things that may or may not have happened.
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Postby Esternial » Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:06 am

It doesn't seem that far-fetched to imagine that your brain can suppress memories when these inflict excess stress unto the body. The brain is capable of factoring out plenty of unnecessary information.

From my limited knowledge of neurobiology I'd say it's not impossible, but of course when talking about memories from childhood, they'll always be foggy. There's always a risk for memory implantation or modification, which I believe is pretty relevant to the entire "repressed memories" discussion.

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Postby Republic of the Cristo » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:39 am

Esternial wrote:It doesn't seem that far-fetched to imagine that your brain can suppress memories when these inflict excess stress unto the body. The brain is capable of factoring out plenty of unnecessary information.

From my limited knowledge of neurobiology I'd say it's not impossible, but of course when talking about memories from childhood, they'll always be foggy. There's always a risk for memory implantation or modification, which I believe is pretty relevant to the entire "repressed memories" discussion.


A lot ( I dare say most ) of the psych community doesn't believe in repressed memories. Just as an example, no one who was ever an inmate at Auschwitz ever forgot their time there.

Repressed memories are still a theory, and yet they have been used for convictions of possibly innocent men; Shanely spent 16 years in prison because of such a conviction.
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Postby Diopolis » Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:24 am

Republic of the Cristo wrote:
Esternial wrote:It doesn't seem that far-fetched to imagine that your brain can suppress memories when these inflict excess stress unto the body. The brain is capable of factoring out plenty of unnecessary information.

From my limited knowledge of neurobiology I'd say it's not impossible, but of course when talking about memories from childhood, they'll always be foggy. There's always a risk for memory implantation or modification, which I believe is pretty relevant to the entire "repressed memories" discussion.


A lot ( I dare say most ) of the psych community doesn't believe in repressed memories. Just as an example, no one who was ever an inmate at Auschwitz ever forgot their time there.

Repressed memories are still a theory, and yet they have been used for convictions of possibly innocent men; Shanely spent 16 years in prison because of such a conviction.

It's doubtful Shanely was actually innocent.
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Postby Imperium Sidhicum » Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:32 am

Permitting them as evidence is risky at best. Human memory is notoriously unreliable and quirky even without any deliberate and dishonest deception efforts, especially where it comes to recalling traumatic events.
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Postby Free Republics » Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:41 am

So-called "repressed memories" should not be admissible in court because they have been proven to be unreliable.

If the only "evidence" of a crime is the alleged victim's word that it happened, the case flat out should not be brought to court and if it is no juror should convict. People could be lying or their memories could be flat out false (like those people who thought Nelson Mandela had died in the 1980s). You need actual evidence before you start throwing people in jail or even putting them on trial.

For somebody who is falsely accused of a crime they did not commit (or worse a "crime" that never actually happened), even a trial in which they are acquitted causes enormous damage, including emotional damage, damage to reputation, loss of time and financial losses. This is why its important not to put people on trial frivolously and also why people who are acquitted (and the jurors whose time was wasted) ought to be compensated for the harm done to them by a wrongful prosecution.
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