Motivated forgetting and misremembering: Perspectives from betrayal trauma theory

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Date of Original Version



Individuals are sometimes exposed to information that may endanger their well-being. In such cases, forgetting or misremembering may be adaptive. Childhood abuse perpetrated by a caregiver is an example. Betrayal trauma theory (BTT) proposes that the way in which events are processed and remembered will be related to the degree to which a negative event represents a betrayal by a trusted, needed other. Full awareness of such abuse may only increase the victim's risk by motivating withdrawal or confrontation with the perpetrator, thus risking a relationship vital to the victim's survival. In such situations, minimizing awareness of the betrayal trauma may be adaptive. BTT has implications for the larger memory and trauma field, particularly with regard to forgetting and misremembering events. This chapter reviews conceptual and empirical issues central to the literature on memory for trauma and BTT as well as identifies future research directions derived from BTT. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Nebraska Symposium on Motivation