The risk of False Memories Syndrome during psychotherapy and other psychological interventions
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Instytut Psychologii Stosowanej Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego
Submission date: 2016-07-07
Final revision date: 2016-12-08
Acceptance date: 2017-01-31
Publication date: 2017-05-24
Corresponding author
Bożena Gulla   

Instytut Psychologii Stosowanej, Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie, ul. Prof. Łojasiewicza 4, 30-348 Kraków, Polska
Psychoter 2017;180(1):59-69
Based on a case study, the article discusses the issue of false memories that appear during psychotherapy and other psychological interventions. The term “recovered” or “false memories” (FMS, False Memory Syndrome) is used to describe a particular phenomenon – the emergence of memories during psychotherapy that were previously unavailable to the person experiencing them. They are usually drastic in nature, such as memories of sexual abuse that the person experiencing the memory was subject to as a child, mistreatment or satanic practices involving children. False Memory Syndrome has repeatedly been the cause of court cases. The phenomenon is connected with various spontaneous modifications of memory. The author aims to show the possible psychological mechanisms that cause False Memory Syndrome, discusses how to prevent this phenomenon and how the psychotherapist should react if the Syndrome appears during psychotherapy.

Case study method

The cases indicate that even when the therapist does not concentrate explicitly on the patient’s early childhood experiences, it is possible for false memories to emerge.

It seems necessary to analyze the significance of an emerging, traumatic memory in the context of a patient’s psychological problems and the current stage of psychotherapy.

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