People who expect to enter psychotherapy are prone to believing that they have forgotten memories of childhood trauma and abuse.
We asked 1004 undergraduates to estimate both the probability that they would enter therapy and the probability that they experienced but could not remember incidents of potentially life-threatening childhood traumas or physical and sexual abuse. We found a linear relation between the expectation of entering therapy and the belief that one had, but cannot now remember, childhood trauma and abuse. Thus individuals who are prone to seek psychotherapy are also prone to accept a suggested memory of childhood trauma or abuse as fitting their expectations. In multiple regressions predicting the probability of forgotten memories of childhood traumas and abuse, the expectation of entering therapy remained as a substantial predictor when self-report measures of mood, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder symptom severity, and trauma exposure were included.
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