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March 12, 1997

Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse

Author Affiliations

Temple University School of Medicine Philadelphia, Pa

JAMA. 1997;277(10):854-855. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540340088040

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In recent years a polarized debate, often polemical and vitriolic, has seized the attention of psychotherapists and the lay public. Some authorities have ascribed a crucial importance to the influence of repressed or dissociated memories of childhood trauma in the etiology of adult psychopathology and distress, while others have attempted to cast doubt on the possibility that true childhood trauma can be banished from memory or later recovered, either spontaneously or in the course of therapy.

"... Freyd's betrayal theory is capable of generating numerous testable hypotheses..."

One the one hand, voices have been raised to claim that memories of childhood traumatization should be assumed to be accurate unless proven otherwise, while on the other hand, there has been a clamor that recovered memories are almost if not always inaccurate, necessitating that psychotherapists consider such claims unlikely a priori. Furthermore, many researchers and some clinicians who claim that genuine memories are