Truthfulness, deception and self-deception in recovering true and false memories of child sexual abuse

Israel Nachson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The recovered-memory/false-memory debate focuses on theoretical issues pertaining to the plausibility of total repression, denial and subsequent full recovery of traumatic memories of childhood sexual abuse. Proponents and opponents of recovered memory therapy are divided in regard to the question whether recovered memories are true or false. Supporters of the ‘recovered memory hypothesis’, which states that memories of sexual abuse can be repressed and then recovered, consider the memories authentic, whereas supporters of the ‘false memory hypothesis’ who do not believe that total repression and subsequent full recovery are possible, consider the memories false. In the present paper a proposal is put forward to conceptualize the debate in terms of deception and self-deception. Within this framework, claimants of recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse might be considered truthful by supporters of the ‘recovered memory hypothesis’, and self-deceivers by supporters of the ‘false memory hypothesis’. Self-deception is viewed as a split between a given cognitive subsystem and the rest of the system. The split must not necessarily be dynamically driven.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Review of Victimology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2001


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