Jennifer Willis Paper 3 Are Recovered Memories from Child Abuse Reliable In the past there was a vast gray area between the time and the substance of an alleged childhood sexual abuse and the subsequent recollection of that abuse. With the intense focus by psychiatric community and the criminal justice system to ascertain the truth, the grey lines are becoming more black and white. With the reliance more on scientific methodology and better methods of achieving memory recall there is less reason for twelve jurors to question whether abuse occurred or not. Traumatic amnesia is a documented, verifiable syndrome.
The numerous studies that have been seen made, some concurrent with the sexual abuse, others come from memory recall of the abused are statistically reliable and evidentiary of the facts. Sexual abuse creates trauma that is impossible to duplicate in a laboratory setting because the emotional responses that are experienced by the abused are far more complex than anything that can be stimulated artificially. Our better understanding of memory and how it works is really new paradigms for differentiating traumatic, memory recall from false memory (implanted ideas that are subsequently "recalled." In the article by Ann Cossins (recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse- fact or fantasy? ), Cossins builds an excellent foundation for the acceptance of memory recall to validate the existence of abuse while rejecting the proponents of FMS, as potentially unscientific and basing their "truths" to be the subjective judgement's of the accused. To adhere to a belief that recalled memory of sexual abuse is not reliable.
We know empirically that this is not true. To return to Willis 3 our question of the reliability of recovered memory from childhood, I would have to conclude that the recovered memory is reliable. The recent cases in our criminal justice system dealing with the abuse by Catholic priests of young boys have been successfully prosecuted because of our belief as a society that if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, the chances are, it's a duck. In the past, such abuse might never have come to light because of our predisposition to believe that a priest was not capable of such behavior.
The Michael Jackson case deals precisely with the topic of this discussion. In the final analysis the jurors will have substantial scientific evidence on which to base their decision. The proper use of decision making tools that have been derived from the various relevant studies may in the future impact our criminal justice system in the same manner as DNA evidence.