MRI Study Supports Why Trauma Victims Forget Traumatic Incidences

For decades the question regarding the accuracy of adults suddenly remembering traumatic events from their childhood has been the center of memory wars.  The topic of buried trauma turning up has been controversial in court proceedings, movie plot lines, and television. 

A new study debunks the mystery of recalled childhood memories. 

Recently the American Psychiatric Association, along with other top mental health organizations, issued a caution concerning the reliability of a past traumatic incident that is later recalled, a condition known as “delayed memory.” The skepticism stems from a body of evidence demonstrating that memories can be unreliable and that simple laboratory manipulation can fool people into believing they had an experience that actually didn’t occur. Overzealous therapists have elicited some well-known cases of recovered memories of child abuse, which have proven out to be fake.

Psychotherapists who treat childhood trauma survivors, on the other hand, contend that lab experiments do not rule out the likelihood that specific delayed memories recovered by adults are true. According to trauma therapists, early childhood maltreatment can overload the central nervous system, leading to children separating a traumatic memory from conscious awareness. They claim that dissociative amnesia often occurs in the patients they see.

There is a neurological connection in dissociative symptoms in trauma victims. 

The new study employs magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate amnesia and other dissociative symptoms such as sensations of absurdity and depersonalization, which are frequently reported in the aftermath of horrific child abuse. Vinod Menon, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, praised the researchers for unearthing a prospective underlying brain circuit mechanism in individual variations in dissociative symptoms in early-life trauma and PTSD survivors in an editorial published in the same issue of the journal.

Senior author of the MRI study, Milissa Kaufman, said that the study, like other MRI studies of trauma victims, reveals that dissociative symptoms like amnesia have a neurological foundation. She said that they believe that such brain studies will reduce the stigma connected with their profession. 

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