R. Christopher Barden & Demosthenes Lorandos
Although detective stories and talk shows credulously promote the “diagnosis,” Repressed-Recovered Memory (RRM)–the claim that a trauma victim could accurately encode a memory, then have it blocked but remain reliably stored for years, and then somehow recover it to report it to authorities – is hogwash. Completely unsupported by any empirical evidence, RRM(like its brethren multiple personality disorder (MPD), dissociative identity disorder, traumatic amnesia, dissociative amnesia and betrayal trauma theory) has been thoroughly repudiated by both the relevant scientific community and in courts of law as well. Unfortunately, many (many) attorneys, judges, laypeople and even mental health professionals are unaware of this fact, and, together with the influence of popular culture, the scourge of this particular flavor of junk science continues to invade criminal prosecutions, family law matters and civil litigation. Also due in no small part to the fact that lawyers and judges, as a rule, lack sufficient scientific training to address the myriad of disciplines and issues necessary to refute these pseudoscience claims, RRM remains a thorn in the side of the legal system. This chapter seeks to rectify this problem by identifying the multi-disciplinary approach necessary to demonstrate RRM’s complete lack of reliability or validity. Particular topics addressed include:
History of the rise and fall of RRM-MPD
History of licensing actions against RRM-MPD experts and practitioners
History of fraud, corruption, misconduct, destruction of evidence, mis-reporting and
other misconduct by key RRM-MPD theorists, practitioners and experts
Science of memory and false memories in children and adults
Technical, methodological analysis of RRM-MPD research
Science of the limitations of clinical judgment and decision-making errors
History of the mental health system and widespread consumer fraud within it
Ethical rules and licensing regulations for clinical psychotherapy
Ethical rules and licensing regulations for forensic expert witnesses
Clinical psychotherapy with children and adults
Science of assessment, diagnosis and psychological testing
Standards of care in criminal investigations
Malpractice litigation methods, practices and procedures
Science of inability of humans to reliably detect false statements
Sciences of social psychology, sociology, anthropology, psychopharmacology and hypnosis
In addition to a thorough literature review of the diverse areas implicated(and necessary to refute) RRM-MPD, as well as the litigation history that initially revealed these diagnosis as the junk science they are, this chapter also provides case digests and vignettes from jurisdictions across the country that illustrate: (1) highly-effective, science-intensive litigation methods that refute the diagnosis; (2) what happens when allegations of RRM are handled badly; and (3) how RRM-MPD has returned to the courtroom due to failures to properly challenge the pseudoscience.
As a comprehensive guide on the subject, the Assessment of Repressed Recovered Memories chapter is an invaluable resource for attorneys, judges and experts who are tasked with keeping this junk science out of a courtroom.
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