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Memory. 1997 Sep;5(5):615-38.

Memories for the Marchioness.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University College London Medical School, UK.


We examined the accounts of 27 survivors of the Marchioness ferry sinking, using cross-validation of accounts to search for instances of motivated forgetting. In order to identify objective items that could be validated, we focused the analysis on subjects' statements of whom they were with at various stages of the disaster. We compared these findings with an informal recall of a non-traumatic event after an interval of a few days. The main finding was that recall was reasonably good for both traumatic and non-traumatic events. Specifically, in the Marchioness sample, among those 86 statements that could have been confirmed in the accounts of other informants, 74 were in fact confirmed. Of the remaining 12 unconfirmed statements, only one involved a contradiction. We conclude that for a disaster of this kind, and with this particular sample of individuals, motivated forgetting was extremely rare.

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