Contents & Abstracts
Editorial : Special Edition:
Current events in the memory-trauma field.
by A.J.W. Taylor PhD
The present article reviews a range of issues including the nature of memory, the role of hypnosis in therapy to recover memories, the personality characteristics of client and therapist, and factors of suggestibility and absorption - but it goes beyond those factors to consider the social and therapeutic context in which memories are recovered. It proposes that "recovered" memories that are false arise from complex interactions that also include family dynamics, social-perceptual pre-conditioning, media induction, secondary gain, therapists' beliefs, and treatment approaches and expectancies with certain precipitating events acting as catalysts.
This paper describes the overall no fault accident compensation scheme developed in New Zealand, and sets out the current provisions of the Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance Act 1992 for the compensation of mental trauma injuries. It draws attention to the abolition of lump sum compensation for injuries, and the exclusion of many mental trauma injury claims which were available under the previous Accident Compensation Act 1982 - both of which led to considerable public dissatisfaction, and brought lawyers back into the compensation process with damages claims for mental trauma injuries. The renewed interest of lawyers in litigation also led to an increase in exemplary/punitive damages claims. These matters are raised for the information of interested parties overseas as well as those closer to home in New Zealand.
Although the processes of memory and recall are known often to be affected by critical incidents, they are barely mentioned, if at all, in the training of operational emergency personnel. Indeed they hardly feature in the training of health professionals who work in a variety of settings, and they do not appear much even as key words in the relevant research area. The omission came sharply into prominence not long ago in the High Court in New Zealand when a discourse on memory was invited from expert witnesses, and for the very first time a jury accepted 'flashback' and post traumatic stress disorder as a defence of provocation to a charge of murder. The topic was taken further during a stress/trauma assignment and two referrals that will be described. The aim is a) to draw parallels for the consideration of trainers, peer-supporters, and emergency workers, b) to underline the importance of bringing traumatic memories into the viable mainstream of memory, and c) to suggest that various forms of critical incident stress management do more than extend camaraderie and give occupational and social support.
Massey University, New Zealand
Last changed 8 June 1999