By Ian Sample
A leading psychologist whose research on human memory exposed her to death threats, lawsuits, personal abuse and a campaign to have her sacked has won a prestigious prize for her courage in standing up for science.
Professor Elizabeth Loftus endured a torrent of abuse from critics who objected to her work on the unreliable nature of eyewitness testimonies, and her defining research on how people can develop rich memories for events that never happened.
The work propelled Loftus into the heart of the 1990 “memory wars”, when scores of people who had gone into therapy with depression, eating disorders and other common psychological problems, came out believing they had recovered repressed memories for traumatic events, often involving childhood abuse.
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