Implicit Memory and Metacognition

By Lynne M. Reder | Go to book overview

the therapist can then help cure the client by discovering the details of the client's actual abduction. The technique is (counter) hypnosis; the theory is that the aliens have hypnotized people to forget their abduction, but that because every single experience no matter how trivial (or in this case nontrivial) is stored somewhere in the brain exactly as it occurred, such hypnosis can never be completely successful; the therapist uses her or his own hypnotic influence to unlock these memories. (Exactly why hypnosis leads to tweaking the neural connections that are there but have previously been blocked by hypnosis from leading to conscious awareness is not explained.) Of course, a simpler explanation of the role of the prior interest in UFOs is that such interest makes the abduction experience a plausible one; especially when predisposed people join groups of others similarly inclined, the prior probability that they have had this experience is enhanced-and enhanced most of all by a believing therapist.

The one other distinction that Loftus and colleagues might consider is that between events that result from personal initiation or internal feelings versus events that happened "to" people who experience them more-or-less passively. The reason that I suggest this distinction is that Loftus does mention Freudian theory, and athough there is some evidence that Freud occasionally postulated repression of experiences in which people were essentially passive victims, the bulk of his argument about repression concerns the repression of our own instincts, desires, and unacceptable impulses ( Freud, 1915/ 1959, 1918/ 1959). Thus, according to Freud, it is "the return of the repressed" (p. 93) when defense mechanisms fail that leads to neurotic symptoms, and the problem posed to the psychoanalyst is of how to help the person deal with this material in an unusual way through psychotherapy and hence sublimation -- rather than in the usual way through repression, denial, and so on (which have ceased "working"). The point is that these impulses and desires are believed to be ongoing factors in the individual's psyche, whereas a particular experience would not be -- and hence from a strictly Freudian perspective, could not have the effects of the "repressed memories" prior to recovery that the advocates of "recovered repressed memory" therapy claim. I do not want to argue all the intricacies of the Spaceship Psychoanalytic Theory ( Dawes, 1995), but do wish to point out that this theory does lead to an active versus passive distinction for life events that-may inform future research.


REFERENCES

Dawes R. M. ( 1995 November/December). S "paceship psychoanalytic theory". FMS Foundation Newsleller, p. 7. [Comments inspired by Crews F., et al. ( 1995). The memory wars: Freud's legacy in dispute. New York Review, New York, NY.]

Fiore E. ( 1989). Encounters: A psychologist reveals case studies of abduction by extraterrestrials. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell.

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