RECOVERED MEMORIES OF ABUSE IN MENTAL ILLNESSES

  • T.H Solomons
Keywords: mental illnesses, abusive memories, psychotherapy, recovered memories

Abstract

In most mental illnesses, abuse is considered an etiological factor, as a
significantly high number of patients report memories of being abused. Yet, there is also a
strong evidence base which suggests that recovered memories can be highly unreliable and
that they can be creations of the current cognitive biases of individuals. Borderline
personality disorder and dissociative disorders have long been linked to a history of abuse.
In the current paper, the author discusses three patients; two diagnosed with Borderline
personality disorder and the other diagnosed with a dissociative identity disorder. These
patients were treated by the author in the private sector and analysis of the weekly
treatment records were used for the findings of the current paper. All these patients were
females who started treatment in their teenage years. All exhibited a treatment-resistant
clinical picture and experienced many short-spaced relapses. After the lapse of about six
months into psychotherapy, they accidentally discovered a strong memory of an abuse
incident, which could not be traced to any known circumstances of their lives. The
memory was highly unlikely to have occurred in reality. Yet, the discovery of the memory
and subsequent cognitive processing of the implications and the visual content of these
memories marked a notable improvement in the patient. With further treatment, all three
were in the remission stage. Therefore, the author feels that patients may have abusive
memories, which may or may not be necessarily linked to real life circumstances, yet may
strongly influence the patient’s symptoms. However, despite the validity of these
memories, it is clear that these memories should be treated as significant by clinicians who
treat mental illnesses.

References

Dodier, O., Patihis, L., & Payoux, M. (2019). Reports of recovered memories of childhood abuse in therapy in

France. Memory, 27(9), 1283-1298.

Geraerts, E. (2012). Cognitive underpinnings of recovered memories of childhood abuse. True and False

Recovered Memories, 175-191.

Lippard, E. T., & Nemeroff, C. B. (2020). The devastating clinical consequences of child abuse and neglect:

increased disease vulnerability and poor treatment response in mood disorders. American journal of

psychiatry, 177(1), 20-36.

Paz, I., Jones, D. and Byrne, G., 2005. Child maltreatment, child protection and mental health. Current Opinion

in Psychiatry, 18(4), pp.411-421.

Published
2021-08-22
How to Cite
Solomons, T. (2021). RECOVERED MEMORIES OF ABUSE IN MENTAL ILLNESSES. Proceedings of Global Public Health Conference, 4(1), 18-22. https://doi.org/10.17501/26138417.2021.4103