Picture of boy being examining by doctor at a tuberculosis sanatorium

Understanding our future through Open Access research about our past...

Strathprints makes available scholarly Open Access content by researchers in the Centre for the Social History of Health & Healthcare (CSHHH), based within the School of Humanities, and considered Scotland's leading centre for the history of health and medicine.

Research at CSHHH explores the modern world since 1800 in locations as diverse as the UK, Asia, Africa, North America, and Europe. Areas of specialism include contraception and sexuality; family health and medical services; occupational health and medicine; disability; the history of psychiatry; conflict and warfare; and, drugs, pharmaceuticals and intoxicants.

Explore the Open Access research of the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare. Or explore all of Strathclyde's Open Access research...

Image: Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust. Wellcome Collection - CC-BY.

The social and cultural context of remembering : implications for recalling childhood sexual abuse

Fivush, Robyn and Saunders, Jo (2015) The social and cultural context of remembering : implications for recalling childhood sexual abuse. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 29 (6). pp. 843-845. ISSN 0888-4080

Text (Fivush-Saunders-ACP-2015-the-social-and-cultural-context-of-remembering-implications)
Accepted Author Manuscript

Download (494kB) | Preview


Remembering is a social cultural activity. Contributors to this Special Issue were asked to address how conversations about personally experienced past events might or might not influence subsequent memory, especially in light of current controversies regarding historical memories of sexual abuse. For many years, the study of human memory focused on the individual engaging in a cognitive activity that produced a specific representation of a past event at a specific time point. But as the papers in this issue make clear, memory is an active ongoing social process that has cascading effects over time, an idea first developed by Bartlett (1932) and championed by Neisser (1982). Even when reminiscing to ourselves, there is an imagined audience, a way of expressing memories of our past selves to our current selves (Halbwachs, 1925/1952). What is remembered about any given event on any given day will depend on both the history of that memory, the specific local context within which the individual is remembering, and the larger sociocultural developmental history within which the individual is embedded (Nelson & Fivush, 2004). In this commentary, we pull the threads through these contributions, and discuss three major factors that contribute to remembering: language, emotion and time. These are, obviously, “big” constructs, but we try to weave together arguments and findings presented across the contributions to this issue. We end with some thoughts on what this might mean specifically for remembering childhood sexual abuse.