Journal of Traumatic Stress

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 559–569 | Cite as

Effects of Guided Imagery on Memory Distortion in Women Reporting Recovered Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse

  • Susan A. Clancy
  • Richard J. McNally
  • Daniel L. Schacter


We tested whether having participants imagine unusual childhood events inflates their confidence that these events happened to them, and tested whether this effect is greater in women who report recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse than in women who do not. Participants were pretested on how confident they were that certain childhood events had happened to them before being asked to imagine some of these events in the laboratory. New confidence measures were readministered. Although guided imagery did not significantly inflate confidence that early childhood events had occurred in either group, the effect size for inflated confidence was more than twice as large in the control group as in the group with recovered memory. These data suggest that individuals can counteract memory distortions potentially associated with guided imagery, at least under some conditions.

repression childhood trauma sexual abuse recovered memory false memory 


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Copyright information

© International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan A. Clancy
    • 1
  • Richard J. McNally
    • 1
  • Daniel L. Schacter
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyHarvard UniversityCambridge

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