Implicit Memory and Metacognition

By Lynne M. Reder | Go to book overview

without worrying about accuracy, proving anything, or having your ideas make sense. As you give rein to your imagination, let your intuitions guide your thoughts" (p. 50). In a recent study of licensed clinical psychologists, a surprising 11% admitted that they had tried to help clients remember childhood sexual abuse by encouraging them to "let the imagination run wild," and 22% said that they had done this by encouraging subjects to "give free rein to the imagination" ( Poole et al., 1995). The findings of Garry et al. suggest the wisdom of the larger percentages who indicated that these techniques were inappropriate for use with suspected abuse victims. Specifically, 44% said that it was not appropriate to encourage clients to "let the imagination run wild" and 24% said it was not appropriate to encourage clients to "give free rein to the imagination."


FINAL REMARKS

Nearly two decades of research on the misinformation effect has revealed that people can be led to remember events differently than they really were. When distortions of memory are induced in people, they can be quite confident about their false memories and express them in substantial detail. Newer work shows that you can go further with people -- you can lead them to believe that entirely false events happened to them when they were children. The precise mechanisms by which such false memories are constructed out of elements of historical truth are still unknown, although engaging people in acts of counterfactual imagination may play some role. In his classic book The Go-Between, Hartley ( 1953) made an apt remark about the past: "The past is a foreign country. . . . they do things differently there." Today we might add to Hartley's metaphor: "The past is one of many foreign countries . . . depending on how you want things to have been done there."


REFERENCES

Anderson R. E. ( 1984). "Did I do it or did I only imagine doing it?" Journal of Experirmmtal Psychology: General, 113, 594-613.

Arlow J. A. ( 1995). "Stilted listening: Psychoanalysis as discourse". Psychoanalytic Quaterly, 64, 215-233.

Belli R. F. ( 1989). "Influences of misleading postevent information: Misinformation interference and acceptance". Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 118, 72-85.

Briere J. N. ( 1989). Therapy for adults molested as children. New York: Springer.

Ceci S. J., Loftus E. F., Leichtman M. D., & Bruck M. ( 1994). "The possible role of source misattributions in the creation of false beliefs among preschoolers". International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 42, 304-320.

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