This paper offers a feminist review of the debates surrounding delayed (false/recovered) memories. It highlights the philosophical and conceptual issues involved to attempt to illuminate this complex and controversial area. Going beyond disputes around the validity of False Memory Syndrome (FMS) or practical prescriptions, it first considers broader effects of the rhetorical reality this has achieved—in particular in supporting a discourse of disbelief that undermines therapeutic work with abuse survivors. Secondly, four tensions within feminist responses to the memory debate are explored that also highlight constitutive features of its cultural and disciplinary contexts. The third section explores how the memorial controversies reflect prevailing social concerns with familial and existential disintegration, and rely upon an elision between popularly circulating notions of inner childhood and the adult recalling their childhood. Fourthly, it is suggested that the same conceptual difficulties apply to some of the empirical psychological literature drawn upon as evidence in determining the status of false/recovered memories. From this conceptual analysis the paper concludes by highlighting implications for practice, suggesting that it is the false memory advocates rather than their opponents who are insufficiently constructionist in their approach to memory.


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pp. 21-32
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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