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Reshaping memories through conversations : considering the influence of others on historical memories of abuse

Saunders, Jo and Fivush, Robyn (2015) Reshaping memories through conversations : considering the influence of others on historical memories of abuse. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 29 (6). pp. 789-790. ISSN 0888-4080

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    As readers of Applied Cognitive Psychology, we are all familiar with the controversies of the ‘memory wars’ of the late 20th century (see, e.g., Davies & Dalgleish 2001; Ost 2013; Patihis, Ho, Tingen, Lilienfeld & Loftus 2014; and Read & Lindsay 1997, for reviews). While some of us believe firmly that this controversy was resolutely resolved others maintain that there remains many unanswered questions. At the very least, for the individuals and their families directly caught up in this battle, the result was ultimately a pyrrhic victory. In the last few years, however, the issues surrounding memories of abuse have resurfaced, but in a new form: while in the 20th century the battle was contained within families; in the 21st century the battle has taken on a much more public nature. Specifically, celebrities, politicians and high profile individuals have found themselves publically accused of molesting children in previous decades, sometimes as long ago as half a century, and are referred to as ‘historical memories of abuse’ (e.g., recent allegations against Jimmy Savile in the UK and Bill Cosby in the USA).