Remembering our Childhood: How Memory Betrays Us

Paperback | June 29, 2011

byKarl Sabbagh

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In this fascinating and sometimes disturbing book, the well-known writer Karl Sabbagh looks at psychologists' present understanding of the nature of memory, especially recollections of childhood, and how, in cases of so-called 'recovered memories', the unreliability and flexibility of memoryhas led to tragic consequences, destroying the lives of whole families. All of us have memories of childhood - that special trip to the fair, or impressions, such as dappled sunlight through rustling leaves seen from the pram. Some people firmly believe that they can recall scenes from the time they were babies. But what does science tell us about the nature of memory,and memories of childhood? In the first part of this book, Sabbagh begins gently with examples he has collected from many interviews of earliest memories, and goes on to look at psychologists' and neuroscientists' understanding of memory. It becomes clear that, whatever individuals might claim,memories of the first two years or so of our lives are simply not accessible to us, while later memories are fragile, yielding to suggestion and our inclination towards a neat story. All too often, our 'memory' of an event arises from what we have been told by a relative. The book then turns to darker territory. A casual remark by a child at a nursery leads to detailed and suggestive questioning of a number of children, resulting in the arrest of a teacher accused of child abuse. She was subsequently released. Some patients with eating and mood disorders undergoingtherapy have come to believe, or have been led to believe by the therapist, that their problems stem from being sexually abused as a child - memories allegedly repressed and only 'recovered' under the guidance of the therapist. Such claims have again resulted in wrongful arrest, subsequentlyoverturned, though the damage done to the families is irreparable. Sabbagh has interviewed the distinguished psychologist Elizabeth Loftus and others involved in blowing the whistle on the 'recovered memory' movement. Throughout, the book is full of quotations from interviews and extracts fromtranscribed interviews presented at court, making this a powerful and vivid account. While other books have been written on the dangers of the concept of recovered memory, Sabbagh here puts the story in the wider perspective of our growing scientific understanding of memory, and argues strongly for the critical role of scientific evidence in cases involving the memory ofwitnesses.

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In this fascinating and sometimes disturbing book, the well-known writer Karl Sabbagh looks at psychologists' present understanding of the nature of memory, especially recollections of childhood, and how, in cases of so-called 'recovered memories', the unreliability and flexibility of memoryhas led to tragic consequences, destroying th...

Karl Sabbagh was educated at King's College, Cambridge where he studied experimental psychology. He then spent many years as a documentary television producer for broadcasters in the UK and the US before becoming a full-time writer. He has written ten books, including Rum Affair shortlisted for the L.A. Times Science Book Award, and ...

other books by Karl Sabbagh

A Rum Affair: A True Story of Botanical Fraud
A Rum Affair: A True Story of Botanical Fraud

Kobo ebook|Jul 10 2016

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see all books by Karl Sabbagh
Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 7.72 × 5.08 × 0.58 inPublished:June 29, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199218412

ISBN - 13:9780199218417

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Table of Contents

1. 'To remember for years'2. Childhood amnesia3. How do I know who I am?4. Reconstruction5. Memory wars break out6. Playing false7. The limits of belief8. Crimes of therapy9. 'Believed-in Imaginings'10. Abuse of truth11. Freyds and feuds12. Truth or consequences

Editorial Reviews

"A terrific book. Sabbagh's journey into childhood memory shows keen insight into how it works and what it means. He offers a masterfully original and beautifully written perspective on one of the most fundamental aspects of the human mind." --Elizabeth F. Loftus, Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine