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Wetzler, S.E. Sweeney, J.A. (1986). Childhood Amnesia: A Conceptualization in Cognitive-Psychological Terms. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 34:663-685.

(1986). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 34:663-685

Childhood Amnesia: A Conceptualization in Cognitive-Psychological Terms

Scott E. Wetzler, Ph.D. and John A. Sweeney, Ph.D.


Childhood amnesia is defined operationally as the forgetting of early life events to a significantly greater degree than is accounted for by "normal" forgetting, which is an increasing recall decrement as time since occurrence increases. Three cognitive processes and their developmental changes are discussed which, when considered with psychodynamic factors, may broaden the understanding of childhood amnesia. It is argued that psychoanalytic theory and technique can benefit from the research and methods of cognitive psychology.

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