Memory distrust syndrome

Memory distrust syndrome

Memory distrust syndrome is a term coined by Gísli Guðjónsson and James MacKeith in 1982, to describe those who distrust their own memories and are motivated to rely on external (non-self) sources to verify the accuracy of memories.

Memory distrust syndrome is associated with source amnesia, which prohibits full recollection of how one acquired a specific memory. Additionally, memory distrust syndrome involves confusion concerning the content or context of events, a highly attributable factor to confabulation in brain disease.

The overwhelming propensity to accept information from external sources (i.e. an interrogator) based on the influence of susceptibility has led to well documented false confessions. In addition, the credibility of a witness account who suffers from memory distrust syndrome is more questionable. In a parallel situation, amnesic individuals may have a greater propensity to have their memory manipulated and perhaps perform non-advantageous acts on the "direction" of external sources and have difficulty in differentiating imaginary and real experiences. Since the criminal law system considers source amnesia pathology to be an identified and natural occurrence, psychiatrists should increasingly take assessment and identification measures to isolate such a disorder in accused individuals and eye-witnesses.


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