the Kavanaugh and Ford memory problem

The memory of any given person is not concrete and it tends to be malleable. Persons not psychologists or otherwise trained at least partly at times do not realize how badly and how easily problems with memory may take place.

A skillful psychologist or other similarly trained person can modify the existing memories of some suggestible people by skillful questioning and Elizabeth Loftus of the UW produced change in existing memories in studies and discussed them in her book

Witness for the Defense.

Loftus also discusses a psychologist in studies asking questions in a way that creates memories of nonexistent events, a phenomenon more rare, but still possible, than simply modifying the details of an existing memory.

In the case of Ford, she says that she has spent 35 years trying to forget the attack . . . which is OK on a personal level, but the desire and practice of forgetting and trying to forget reduces the accuracy and number of all details alleged. If you later may need to use the memory to tell authorities about bad conduct, you can’t just try to forget it for 30 years and expect the memory to remain intact and accurate.

Also, some people, for good or for ill, remember things that did not take place, things which tend to be things that they desire or that they fear.

I live with a relative who has memory problems and the relative is over 80. I experience it every week and nearly every day that I must correct (or ignore) for my mom a “memory” which is not correct–a memory that corresponds to a fear she has had, or, to a lesser degree, a desire she has had in a very small desire of the category of delusion of grandeur.

Of course, sometimes I can manage without having to correct the faulty memory, cause my mom is wrongly remembering a detail or happening without a large consequence to being wrong.

If the woman, for 30 or more years, has been thinking and telling herself, forget, forget, forget, all the details are subject to doubt.

In persons with dementia or certain other forms of mental illness, there is no way to say if the attack memory reflects an actual attack, her fears, a delusion of graundeur or a dream, without external corroboration.

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