A repressed memory, also known as a recovered memory, is a memory that has either been dissociated from awareness or repressed without dissociation in a process called Motivated Forgetting ] these memories are blocked out due to their painful or traumatic nature.
The existence of repressed memories is a controversial topic in psychology; some studies have concluded that it can occur in victims of trauma, while others dispute it. According to the American Psychological Association, it is not currently possible to distinguish a true repressed memory from a false one without corroborating evidence.
Repressed memories are not the same as amnesia, which is a term for any instance in which memories are either not stored in the first place (such as with traumatic head injuries when short term memory does not transfer to long term memory) or forgotten. Repressed memory syndrome is often compared to psychogenic amnesia, and some sources equate the two.
According to proponents of the existence of repressed memories, they may sometimes be recovered years or decades after the event, most often spontaneously, triggered by a particular smell, taste, or other identifier related to the lost memory, or via suggestion during psychotherapy.
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