Is bringing up the possibility of a memory being false, productive?

I've been seeing my current T for almost two years and I've finally decided that I trust him enough that I want to disclose my experiences with CSA abuse with him. I've had 3 instances all together, 2 were falling into the hands of online predators in my early teens which I know for 100% are real, and the other is a real life instance that happened around 6 that I'm not sure is real.

My question is, is discussing the possibility of it being a fake memory productive in therapy? Or is it better to just assume it's real and tackle it that way? I'm considering not telling my T that the third instance is a possible fake memory because I'm worried it won't be validated that way, I'm worried it will just be seen as an instance of wild imagination and disregarded. At the same time, I'd feel guilty and like I lied to him if the memory isn't real. I feel frustrated that there's no way of telling for sure, I wish I could know.

I'm going to vaguely describe the memory here. I was around 6 years old and my dad took me to his friend's party. I went to use the bathroom and there was no lock on the door. A older man came in and briefly assaulted me.

There's a couple points that can be made from this. My dad and I have never had a very close relationship but around that age, he would occasionally take me with him when he went to hang out places. This can point to it being real. However, I never went to that house again and have no idea to this day who that friend possibly was. I also didn't retain the memory in my early years which is weird for me. I have an elephant's memory, even with traumatic events. I remember learning how to read my first words as a toddler, it'd be very strange for me to forget such an instance as being assaulted. I have had few dreams where I was assaulted in a similar manner but these of course could just have stimmed from a false memory as well.

How have other people tackled this? Do you forewarn your T that is might be a false memory, or do you present it as definitely real?
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How does that memory affect you now, today, as an adult? Because the adult you are today is the one your therapist is working with.

If it's distressing -- whether it feels like childhood sexual abuse, like your dad's inability to protect you at an early age, like shame, like an intrusive image -- then it's relevant no matter what.


It's totally valid to bring up that incident in therapy.

Trauma impacts memory. So you have great memory for all other things. Makes sense that your brain, whilst finding a way to survive what happened, would block it from your concious memory. Very common thing to happen.

Which then also makes people think "well it can't be real", because you remember this bit but not that bit. And it's hazy. And confusing. And disjointed. And not making full sense.
Talking about all that with your T is likely to really lead to you making sense of why you feel it might not be real, what that means for you, and coming to terms with what happened.

It certainly has for me.


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From my point of view:
You always have more information than any therapists so they have to respect that.
As @goblin said above, this is your story as an adult and it seems to me you are judging it one way or another not the therapist judging you.
Having ambivalence around traumatic memory is a real thing and painful state of mind
No matter how you preface it, the therapist job is to listen, recognize you and your story, validate what you share and how you feel, not prove the incident happened or not - cause how would they know? and if you have strong feeling they are judging you or invalidating you - that is transference and something you may do with others in your life - not trusting to be believed and worth tackling it as part of your recovery.

The mere fact you, as an adult, dealing with this and struggling says a lot. Even if it is fake memory, let us say for a second, whatever environment that created a child to imagine these things says a lot.

Good luck and I hope you work through it and find your strength.


I have some things -as an adult- immediately following a bang to the head, being awake for too long, being emotionally kaboom, and during times I was in & out of consciousness (blood loss, electric shock, sleep dep, starvation, drugs, oh my) ... that I have no idea how much is real, how much is my brain attempting to connect the dots with what’s actually real by making shit up to fill in the gaps, and how much is <low whistle> hallucination/dreams/nightmares being stitched in.

Yep. TOTALLY productive to have those pieces of the events blocked out with my T as “IDFK”. In part? Because he knows I have no problem in recognising what’s sketchy & handling those pieces differently, I get very little pushback on areas I’m totally solid in. Which also means I’m on board for handling those pieces differently. Because those pieces are different. (Which doesn’t mean ignoring them as if they aren’t real. They are real; whether reality based, or hallucination based, or head trauma based, or, or, or. They’re just also a LOT more complicated by secondary factors). Honesty creating a much more dynamic dialogue.

Here’s an example of type... In my memory? Which is touch and go as I’m fading in and out of consciousness... I remember being carried. I remember a truck. I remember a helicopter. I remember the hospital. <<< What actually happened? Carried. Helicopter. Plane. Hospital. What the f*ck happened to the truck??? Either it never existed, and it just “made sense” that we’d have been driven out so my mind supplied all the details... or I dreamt it... or I saw a truck I didn’t ride in... or someone may have been talking about their new truck, or someone put ears on me to quit the ride which made it feel like a truck and they got knocked off, or we hit some air currents that jogged a memory of a road surface I’m familiar with... or, or, or. And why the hell don’t I remember a plane? At all? Shrug. No idea. Maybe I was out cold for that whole piece. Maybe morphine was making me DGAF about where I was. No idea. But there was a plane. And there wasn’t a truck.

So back to that “honesty creating a much more dynamic dialogue”? I can talk to the cows come home about how confused, pissed off, etc. I happen to be about that timeline being off. I can work on my trust issues (how can I trust myself if... well? I can trust that blah blah blah) list goes on.