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In 1997-OCT, the Netherlands Ministry of Justice issued an advisory report that was prepared at their request by Dr. Peter van Koppen. He is a legal expert and psychologist at the Netherlands Study Center for Criminality and Law Enforcement. It is entitled: "Recovered Crimes: About Accusations of Sexual Abuse Made after Therapy"

Minister of Justice Madame Sorgdrager developed concern about the growing numbers of court cases arising from recovered memories. They appear to follow a common format: a woman goes into therapy to cure a treatable emotional problem such as an eating disorder. She is told by her therapist that her real problem is due to repressed memories of sexual abuse during childhood. To "help" the clients recover the memories, a variety of techniques are used: hypnosis, guided imagery and dream interpretations. "Unfortunately, this so-called "recovered memory therapy" leads to pseudo memories, memories about events that never took place." This in often turn leads to accusations, which may include charges of infanticide, against the client's parents. "The lives of the falsely accused I listened to have been ruined, whole families have been driven apart. All because of nonsense." Very few charges lead to convictions. There have been more than 500 such cases in the Netherlands in recent years, and only one conviction. The latter based on a confession.

Dr. van Koppen is highly critical of the therapists' role in the creation of these accusations. He claims that there has been no empirical proof for the existence of repressed memories. "Repressed memories are just not found in people who have experienced other types of trauma, such as Vietnam veterans and concentration camp victims. Their problem was rather the reverse of repression: their intrusive memories just would not go away. There is no reason to believe that a lengthy history of sexual abuse could ever lead to suppress [such memories]."

Accusations sometimes escalate to include Satanic rituals, cannibalism, violent abortions, mass sacrifice of infants, etc.

One cause for the flood of court cases is the pressure that some therapists apply to their clients to bring charges against the alleged perpetrators. It is not known how many Dutch therapists are involved in this practice. Another cause was the 'De Beaufort' guidelines which were drafted in the 1980. They urged that the police take all allegations by sexual abuse victims seriously. From these guidelines grew the concept that all memories of abuse victims must be grounded in real events and thus had to be believed.

Dr. van Koppen recommended that professional organizations condemn the practice of recovered memory therapy, as the British Royal College of Psychiatrists has recently done.

The Minister of Justice has ordered new guidelines which instruct police how to deal with this type of case. An accused person will only be arrested "after the therapist has been examined and supporting testimony has been obtained."

Dr van Koppen concludes that women need protection from dangerous therapies: "Unaware, they run into the wrong therapist and are saddled with a gruesome and concocted past. When as a police investigator you fail to deal with this critically, you may initiate years of wretchedness in a criminal case that ultimately leads to nowhere"

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Ellen de Visser, "'Hervonden incest' is onbewijsbaar" ('Recovered incest' is unprovable) , De Volkskrant (Amsterdam Newspaper) 1997-OCT-6

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