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"Body memory" is a non-clinical term used to describe several distinct, but related concepts related to memory, amnesia, and trauma.

Broadly, body memory argues that memories can be stored not only in the brain, but also throughout the body; or that one's physical symptoms and responses can indicate the presence of repressed or otherwise forgotten memory, particularly traumatic memories such as sexual abuse.

Body memory is often discussed in the context of childhood sexual abuse and repressed or recovered memory. The best-selling book The Courage to Heal, a guide for sexual abuse survivors, has the slogan "The body remembers what the mind forgets."[1] Some believe that a Body memory can even be from a past life and can have a physical manifestation, such as skin blistering[2]

Mainstream scientific responseEdit

Few studies have been done on Body Memory per se. However, trauma researcher Bessel van der Kolk of Harvard University notes that post-traumatic stress disorder patients often experience memory problems, and often display physiological or emotional responses they cannot easily explain or understand:

trauma interferes with declarative memory, i.e. conscious recall of experience, but does not inhibit implicit memory, or non-declarative memory, the memory system that controls conditioned emotional responses, skills and habits, and sensorimotor sensations related to experience.[3]

Issues In Child Abuse Accusations -- a non-peer-reviewed fringe journal edited by Hollida Wakefield, who resigned from the False Memory Syndrome Foundation following a paedophila-related scandal -- describes body memory as pseudoscience.[4]


  2. [1]
  3. van der Kolk, Bessel A. "The Body Keeps The Score: Memory & the Evolving Psychobiology of Post Traumatic Stress." Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 1994, 1(5), pp. 253-265"
  4. Smith (1993). Body Memories: And Other Pseudo-Scientific Notions of "Survivor Psychology". Issues in Child Abuse Accusations 5 (4).

See also Edit

External linksEdit

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