The trauma-memory argument

Conscious Cogn. 1995 Mar;4(1):63-7. doi: 10.1006/ccog.1995.1004.


The trauma-memory argument proposes that memories of childhood trauma can affect adult behavior outside awareness and that such unconscious memories can return to awareness even after long delays. Unfortunately, this conclusion is based on case reports of unknown representativeness and on clinical studies which are methodologically flawed or do not consider alternative explanations. Of particular concern is the general lack of independent verification of the ostensibly forgotten memories. The trauma-memory argument is plausible, in at least some respects, given what we know about the processes of remembering and forgetting, but considerably more research is needed before it can serve as a basis for scientifically sound clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Awareness
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Repression, Psychology*
  • Retention, Psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Unconscious, Psychology