18 Pages

Autobiographical Memory Disturbances in Childhood Abuse Survivors

WithValerie J. Edwards, Robyn Fivush, Robert F. Anda, Vincent J. Felitti, Dale F. Nordenberg

Clinicians have noted that childhood abuse survivors frequently report that they have forgotten large parts of their childhood. In particular, the clinical literature is rife with descriptions of childhood sexual abuse survivors who report large gaps in their memories of childhood. Moreover, certain aspects of childhood abuse appear to be more strongly associated with a period of forgetting, specifically incestuous sexual abuse involving some violence or threat, and an onset of abuse before adolescence. Childhood abuse survivors who suffer from a lack of childhood memories are not anchored by a sense of self in time, a continuous self that defines who they are and how they fit with others in an interwoven web of shared memories. Without this anchor, childhood abuse survivors may feel a sense of isolation and a lack of social support. With the diminution of memory, childhood abuse survivors have lost their voice, their reality.