Real-life resources on themes in Netflix's Unbelievable?
September 19, 2019 12:53 PM   Subscribe

A friend and I are watching Netflix's Unbelievable and they weren't aware of the prevalence of some of the real-life things that are portrayed in the show. I am looking for resources.

We're only a couple episodes in! Please, no spoilers!

It's my understanding that asking someone to give an accounting of traumatic events too soon (and too often) actually makes their accounting more fragmented and contradictory (and traumatic), not less. (as perhaps partially portrayed and partially contradicted in the show)

I also read somewhere that memories of traumatic events are almost always fragmentary even if someone isn't pressing them for details.

I'm looking for popular articles or peer reviewed research to show my friend about memories of traumatic events, how survivors are often not believed, and how the system can sometimes work against survivors.

My friend isn't "hostile" to any of this; they were just very surprised that when I said how common I thought all this was. And I'm not sure what the best resources are to share.
posted by zeek321 to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I am not sure if you know that the series is based on reality, a very detailed article by ProPublica that was also turned into a book and an episode of This American Life. Do not read it (or even click on it) now if you don’t want spoilers. Here is the link when you’re ready.
posted by sallybrown at 1:22 PM on September 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

posted by zeek321 at 1:58 PM on September 19, 2019

(For those folks who are unaware of what the show is about, the specific traumatic events in the link are sexual assault and Propublica doesn't pull punches, so proceed with caution.)
posted by joycehealy at 2:19 PM on September 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

PTSD researcher and clinician here. Some of my research focuses on trauma disclosure.

There's a really nice review of how systems can work against survivors here.

It's not really that telling the story too soon makes memory more fragmented and contradictory, it's the repetition. I think about it almost like a game of telephone with yourself. This article might be interesting to you in understanding how memories for highly emotional events change over time.

It's also not inherently traumatic for someone to talk about a trauma or stressor too soon. In fact, if it's done voluntarily, it can even promote healing. There's a fair amount of interest in preventing PTSD right after traumas by encouraging survivors to "avoid avoiding" trauma reminders, including talking about the trauma, but some interventions have failed dramatically by compelling people to disclose their trauma in a group setting when they didn't want to. In contrast, here's a really exciting follow-up of a randomized controlled trial that encourages talking about the trauma with an important person nominated by the survivor, which shows huge effects in reducing PTSD relative to most other preventative interventions to date.
posted by quiet coyote at 2:26 PM on September 19, 2019 [16 favorites]

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