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Psychon Bull Rev. 2007 Aug;14(4):776-8.

People believe it is plausible to have forgotten memories of childhood sexual abuse.

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  • 1Department of Psychology and Neuroscience Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708-0086, USA.


Pezdek, Blandon-Gitlin, and Gabbay (2006) found that perceptions of the plausibility of events increase the likelihood that imagination may induce false memories of those events. Using a survey conducted by Gallup, we asked a large sample of the general population how plausible it would be for a person with longstanding emotional problems and a need for psychotherapy to be a victim of childhood sexual abuse, even though the person could not remember the abuse. Only 18% indicated that it was implausible or very implausible, whereas 67% indicated that such an occurrence was either plausible or very plausible. Combined with Pezdek et al.s' findings, and counter to their conclusions, our findings imply that there is a substantial danger of inducing false memories of childhood sexual abuse through imagination in psychotherapy.

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