February 15, 2005

Experts disagree on existence of repressed memories

The Arizona Republic

Kerry Fehr-Snyder
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 15, 2005 12:00 AM

Forget repressed memories for a moment.

Even contemporary memories are iffy, especially when their recall could become the basis of a lawsuit or other financially motivated action, according to a Tucson forensic psychiatrist.

"Memories are much more fluid and flexible than we like to think. Studies have been done that show under even fairly innocuous conditions, you can cause a person to believe that the incident had happened or likely had happened," said Dr. Bennett Blum, who specializes in forensic and geriatric psychiatry.

Blum said the validity of repressed memories - those recalled years after an alleged event - are even trickier to judge because there often is no corroborating evidence to accompany them. Repressed memories that were at one time written down or backed by other victims' accounts often are more reliable, he said.

He offered no opinion on allegations against priests, including Monsignor Dale Fushek, pastor of St. Timothy parish in Mesa, who was placed on administrative leave recently while his superiors investigate an allegation of a sexual nature brought by a former parishioner. The former parishioner claims he was sodomized by another priest who has since been convicted in yet another sexual abuse case as Fushek watched and masturbated.

Posted by kshaw at February 15, 2005 03:55 AM