Recovered memory therapy (RMT)
Statements by professional
organizations, 1993 to 1995
The American Medical Association (AMA) stated in 1993, that recovered memories are
"of uncertain authenticity which should be subject to external verification. The
use of recovered memories is fraught with problems of potential misapplication." 1
The American Psychiatric Association stated in 1993 that it is impossible to
distinguish accurately between true and false memories. 2 They stated:
"Memories also can be significantly influenced by a trusted person (e.g., therapist, parent involved
in a custody dispute) who suggests abuse as an explanation for symptoms/problems, despite
initial lack of memory of such abuse." In addition, they stated "While
aspects of the alleged abuse situation, as well as the context in which the memories
emerge, can contribute to the assessment, there is no completely accurate way of
determining the validity of reports in the absence of corroborating information."
This statement has since been replaced.
The report of the Council on Scientific Affairs of the AMA concluded and
recommended on 1994-JUN-16:
"1. That the AMA recognize that few cases in which
adults make accusations of childhood sexual abuse based on recovered memories can be
proved or disproved and it is not yet known how to distinguish true memories from imagined
events in these cases."
The Australian Psychological Society Ltd. stated in its Guidelines Relating
to the Reporting of Recovered Memories on 1994-OCT-1:
"Given that the
accuracy of memories cannot be determined without corroboration, psychologists should use
caution in responding to questions from clients about pursuing legal action.
... The available scientific and clinical evidence does
not allow accurate, inaccurate and fabricated memories to be distinguished in the absence
of independent corroboration."
The American Medical Association revisited the topic in 1994, and stated:
"It is well established for example that a trusted person such as a therapist can influence an
individual's reports, which would include memories of abuse....The AMA considers the
technique of 'memory enhancement' in the area of childhood sexual abuse to be fraught with
problems of potential misapplication."
AMA Wary of Using 'Memory Enhancement';
AMA, Report of the
Statement on Memories, American Psychiatric Association (1993)
Recovered Memories, British Psychological Society, (#163 10),
available from: The British Psychological Society, St. Andrews House, 48 Princess Road
East, Leicester, LE1 7DR, Great Britain.
"Questions and Answers about
Memories of Childhood Abuse," Brochure by the American Psychological Association,
Copyright 1996 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants
on Religious Tolerance.
Latest update: 2009-AUG-20
Prepared by: B.A. Robinson