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Education Administrators Associates
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Education Administrators Associates was initiated by Dr. John Brownridge, an educator and school principal with extensive knowledge and expertise in the field of Education, and experience in both North America and the United Kingdom. EAA's objective is to offer resource, assistance, and consultation to professional educators in the English-speaking world.

A variety of issues of interest and concern to educators will be presented and considered in this blog on a weekly basis. All educators, whether teachers, administrators or consultants, are invited to comment on the Contacts Page.

None of us can be experts in every field. Yet, as teachers we are expected to be knowledgeable on a whole range of topics, especially those that relate directly or indirectly to education. The parents of our students frequently have questions and concerns about curriculum, special programs, and new innovations they have heard about through news media. Our colleagues, friends and acquaintances may seek explanations and definitions. It is in our own interest to have a cursory knowledge of issues outside our areas of expertise, and to be capable of providing some insight into a variety of educational topics.

This weekly blog will explore many educational topics. Please check in on a regular basis, and do feel free to submit your comments and questions on the Contacts Page. As teachers, we have a wealth of experience to share.

John Brownridge

This Week

The Problem of False Memory Syndrome

Memory involves a series of complicated neurological processes that are still not well understood and for this reason, psychologists and analysts consider human memory to be frequently unreliable. Ordinary memory lapses are not uncommon and most people experience inaccurate recall of events that occurred in the recent or long-term past. But some medical or mental conditions such as Amnesia, Alzheimer’s disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder can cause dramatic impairment or loss of memory with devastating effects on the sufferers and those around them. A particularly difficult occurrence is that of false memory syndrome.

A false memory is a mental recall of events that did not in fact happen, or a distortion of details concerning a real event. This phenomenon is usually identified by referring to externally corroborated facts but where no such corroboration is available, determination of the truth can be difficult to establish. Researchers believe that the essence of memory consists in reconstruction. This presents an inherent problem because the process of reconstruction can be greatly influenced by emotion, strong belief, or desired outcome. It is easy for some individuals to recall self-created impressions which are mistakenly interpreted as memory of real facts.

False memory has frequently been a legal issue in court cases involving alleged abuse by a third party. In such cases, it is in the interest of the accused to deny that abuse has taken place but in a court of law, simple denial is no defense and the supposed memory cannot be dismissed on this basis. But likewise, the memory of abuse cannot be the sole basis of accusation. Corroboration of the facts must support the allegations for without this, there is nothing to say that the mental recall of abuse is simply false memory.

Research seems to confirm that false memory can occur either naturally or artificially. Events can be imagined and the impressions so formed can then be rehearsed and repeated until they become part of a person’s short-term and then long-term memory. If imagined events are associated with real events and mentally rehearsed along with them it becomes difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. Authors who engross themselves in the writing of an auto-biography, for example, may try to relate events in their lives in an interesting and compelling manner for the sake of effect. This may involve exaggeration or tailoring of the facts. Later, however, the author may be unsure about the true nature of the reported events and may have unwittingly acquired some false memories.

There is no doubt that false memories can be implanted artificially through hypnosis. This usually occurs when analysts try to recover lost memories by following the natural process of memory formation. Subjects are encouraged to fantasize under hypnosis and by rehearsal and repetition they begin to remember the fantasized impressions as if they were events that actually occurred. Again, this is a controversial procedure in court cases where allegations of abuse have been made. Although it is known that false memories can be implanted, often by mistake, research on traumatic false memories is extremely limited because of the ethical issues involved.

John Brownridge

Next Week

The Psychology of Adolescence