I Remembered That Differently

“Recovered memory” was a popular psychotherapy diagnosis in the 1980s, ultimately responsible for jail sentences for priests, parents and school officials after patients suddenly somehow “remembered” long-suppressed bizarre and vicious (and sometimes “satanic”) sex crimes that never happened. Elizabeth Loftus, of University of California, Irvine, and other skeptics have since proved false memories can be created and are now concentrating on fashioning them to benefit us — to lose weight, to stop smoking, to curb drinking. An April Time magazine report noted that “up to 40 percent” of people could be convinced they’d had bad experiences with a certain behavior and that, properly identified, those folks could be taught to avoid it. “We do have a malleable memory,” Loftus said. o