People who expect to enter psychotherapy are prone to believing that they have forgotten memories of childhood trauma and abuse.

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We asked 1004 undergraduates to estimate both the probability that they would enter therapy and the probability that they experienced but could not remember incidents of potentially life-threatening childhood traumas or physical and sexual abuse. We found a linear relation between the expectation of entering therapy and the belief that one had, but cannot now remember, childhood trauma and abuse. Thus individuals who are prone to seek psychotherapy are also prone to accept a suggested memory of childhood trauma or abuse as fitting their expectations. In multiple regressions predicting the probability of forgotten memories of childhood traumas and abuse, the expectation of entering therapy remained as a substantial predictor when self-report measures of mood, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder symptom severity, and trauma exposure were included.





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Rubin, David C, and Adriel Boals (2010). People who expect to enter psychotherapy are prone to believing that they have forgotten memories of childhood trauma and abuse. Memory, 18(5). pp. 556–562. 10.1080/09658211.2010.490787 Retrieved from

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David C. Rubin

Juanita M. Kreps Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

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My main research interest has been in long-term memory, especially for complex (or "real-world") stimuli. This work includes the study of autobiographical memory and oral traditions, as well as prose. I have also studied memory as it is more commonly done in experimental psychology laboratories using lists. In addition to this purely behavioral research, which I plan to continue, I work on memory in clinical populations with the aid of a National Institute of Mental Health grant to study PTSD and on the underlying neural basis of memory the aid of a National Institute of Aging grant to study autobiographical memory using fMRI.

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