Disputed memories

The Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport requested advice from the Health Council concerning the scientific situation with regard to therapies involving recovered memories of traumatic childhood experiences, especially of sexual abuse. The Committee, which was established to respond to the request for advice, formulated the sub-questions as follows: ‘could the stored memories of traumatic events be inaccessible and, if so, what might account for this? Under what circumstances might inaccessible memories become accessible once again? Is it possible to recall memories of traumatic events which were never experienced and, if so, what might account for this? What part might psychotherapy play in retrieving such memories?’. The Committee’s findings, which are set out below, provide answers to these questions.