RECOVERED MEMORY THERAPY (RMT)
BOOKS AND ARTICLES
Starting in the 1980's, a series of horrendous criminal cases were pursued against
adults in daycare centers, Sunday schools, etc They were alleged to have ritually abused
large numbers of children. There were also thousands of cases in which adults initiated
lawsuits against their own parents for extreme sexual abuse during the plaintiff's
childhood. Much of the evidence in these cases was based on suggestive interview and
therapy techniques of either children or adults. Almost all therapists now believe that many, if not most, of the
abuse events never happened. False memories were created by adults during
recovered memory therapy. Non-existent stories of sexual abuse were implanted in
the minds of young children via suggestive interview techniques involving
repeated, direct questioning.
The legacy of these events are broken families of origin, impoverished older couples,
and children with profoundly destructive memories of events that never happened. A
series of recent research projects has resulted in great advances in our knowledge of memory
processes. Some books covering these new understandings are listed below. You can
them online from the Amazon.com virtual bookstore.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to find any books or studies on the
aftereffects of implanted memories in children. Thousands of young children with
these false memories have matured and are now teenagers and young adults. They
are living with horrendous memories of events that never happened.
Books skeptical of RMT:
Dr. Paul McHugh recommended the following three books on
RMT in his Baltimore Sun article of 2003-MAR-3. The first two mainly
describe false memories implanted in young children through the use of obsolete
interrogation techniques which involved repeated asking of direct questions, and
the use of "anatomically correct" dolls. The third book "brilliantly
explains just how our minds are built so as to develop beliefs that go beyond
evidence - and how in most other circumstances this feature is advantageous."
1 The book describes how the mind
functions, and how transience, absent-mindedness, blocking, misattribution,
suggestibility, bias and persistence cause memory to fail. It was selected by
Amazon.com as among the "Best of 2001":
|| Dorthy Rabinowitz, "No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness,
and Other Terrors of Our Times," Free Press, (2003). Read
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. This book describes her
experience reporting on a series of court cases -- primarily those of the
Amiraults of Fells Acres, MA. She won a Pulitzer
Prize in 2001 for her reporting.
|| Stephen J. Ceci & Maggie Bruck, "Jeopardy in the Courtroom: A Scientific
Analysis of Children's Testimony," American Psychological Association, (2000).
Read reviews or order this book. This
book describes in detail the investigative methods used to produce false
memories and generate false accusations from children.
|| Daniel Schacter, "The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and
Remembers," Houghton Mifflin Company, (2002).
Read reviews or order this book.
||After Dr. Paul McHugh's article was published, the
following book was published:
Richard J McNally, "Remembering
Trauma," Belknap Press, (2003)
Read reviews or order this book
According to a reviewer on the Amazon/com web site: In this
book, memory expert Richard McNally "has put forth a badly needed
objective and balanced account of all major issues concerning how people
remember traumatic events; he also covers postraumatic stress disorder and
related issues. This is THE scientific, authoritative summary of what is
really known about the psychological issues of trauma that have had
political and legal impact in the last decade or so. Just the facts, no
spin. The book is thoughtful, thorough, and deals even handedly with the
major issues. The book is a must read for any thoughtful person with a
professional or personal interest in trauma."
Reviewers on Amazon.com either love or hate the book. They
have been assigning the book the very highest rating (5 stars) or the very
lowest rating (1 star) depending upon their prior beliefs about recovered
Two editorial reviews state:
"Here we have the most comprehensive and sober
treatment yet undertaken of this sensitive and provocative topic."
Larry R. Squire, University of California School of Medicine, San Diego.
"It is a benchmark book that should be read by anyone
who is interested in the consequences of emotional trauma." James L.
McGaugh, University of California, Irvine.
Kevin Farmer, Ed. & Eleanor C. Goldstein, "True stories of false
memories," Social Issues Resources Series, (1993).
Read reviews or order this book
Janet MacDonald from Princeton, MA, a mother of a victim of recovered
memories, writes: "The stories of parents ring true and the stories
of retractors (children that realize their 'recovered memories' are
false) are very informative....The stories of the parents are
heartbreaking. To have your child taken away from a parent is
terrible....This book is a very good book for someone trying to
understand 'recovered memories' and the families in torment."
|| E. Loftus & K. Letcham, "The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and
the Allegations of Sexual Abuse," St. Martin's Press, (1996). Order/ review
Amazon.com has reviewed this book. They write: "According to many
clinical psychologists, when the mind is forced to endure a horrifying
experience, it has the ability to bury the entire memory of it so deeply
within the unconscious that it can only be recalled in the form of a
flashback triggered by a sight, a smell, or a sound. Indeed, therapists
and lawyers have created an industry based on treating and litigating
the cases of people who suddenly claim to have 'recovered' memories of
everything from child abuse to murder."
"This book reveals that despite decades of research, there is
absolutely no controlled scientific support for the idea that memories
of trauma are routinely banished into the unconscious and then reliably
recovered years later. Since it is not actually a legitimate
psychological phenomenon, the idea of 'recovered memory' -- and the
movement that has developed alongside it -- is thus closer to a
dangerous fad or trendy witch hunt."
Brainerd & V.F. Reyna, "The Science of False Memory," Oxford University
Press, (2005). Order/ review
Findings from research on false memory have major implications for a
number of fields central to human welfare, such as medicine and law.
Although many important conclusions have been reached after a decade or
so of intensive research, the majority of them are not well known
outside the immediate field. To make this research accessible to a much
wider audience, The Science of False Memory has been written to require
little or no background knowledge of the theory and techniques used in
Books on reuniting families:
Additional books by skeptics of the reliability of recovered memories:
||R. Baker, Ed., "Child Sexual Abuse and False Memory Syndrome,"
Prometheus Books, (1998). You can safely
order this book or read a review of it at Amazon.com
||Terence Campbell, "Smoke and Mirrors: The Devastating Effect of False Sexual
Abuse Claims," Insight Books, (1998). Order/ review
"A hard-hitting indictment - full of appalling human stories, impressive
research, tough language, and charges that demand a response." Kirkus Associates
||J. deRivera & T. Sarbin, Eds., "Believed-In Imaginings: The Narrative
Construction of Reality" American Psychological Association, (1998). Order/ review
||J.M. Feldman: "Stranger Than Fiction: When Our Minds Betray Us",
American Psychiatric Press, Washington DC (1998). Order/ review
||E.C. Goldstein & Kevin Farmer, "Confabulations: Creating
False Memories, Destroying Families," Upton Books, (1992) It
describes destruction of families as a result of therapists creating
false memories of childhood sexual abuse. Order/ review
||R. Ofshe & E. Watters, "Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy and
Sexual Hysteria," University of California Press, (1996). Order/ review
||M. Pendergrast, "Victims of Memory: Sex Abuse Accusations and Shattered Lives,"
Upper Access, (1996). Order/ review
||Harrison Pope, Jr., "Psychology Astray: Fallacies in Studies of
'Repressed Memory' and Childhood Trauma," Upton Books, (1997) Order/ review
this book "A model of clear thinking and clear exposition." Nature
Magazine book review.
||P. Simson, "Second Thoughts," Thomas Nelson, (1997). A Christian
psychologist who was once a supporter of the accuracy of recovered memories. He has since
reversed his stance. Order/ review
||C. Wassil-Grimm, "Diagnosis for Disaster: The Devastating Truth About False
Memory Syndrome and Its Impact on Accusers and Families," Penguin USA, (1996) Order/ review
||Lawrence Wright, Remembering Satan, Knopf, 1994, Order/ review
this book This book describes the case of Paul Ingram, believed to be
the first and only person in North America to plead guilty to ritual
abuse. He later determined that his memories were created during
self-hypnosis, and were unrelated to real events.
||M.D. Yapko, "Suggestions of Abuse: True and False Memories of Childhood
Sexual Trauma", Simon & Schuster, Diane Publ. Co. (1994)
Books by believers in the reliability of recovered memories:
||C. Bowman, "Children's Past Lives: How Past Life Memories Affect Your Child,"
review this book
||E. Bass & L. Davis, "The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of
Child Sexual Abuse," Harperperennial Library, (1994). Order/ review
||M. Contratto & M. Gutfreund, Eds., "A Feminist Clinician's Guide to the
Memory Debate," (1996) Order/ review
this book *
||R. Fredrickson, "Repressed Memories: A Journey to Recovery from Sexual Abuse,"
Smith & Schuster, (1992). Order/ review
||J. Freyd, "Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse,"
Harvard University Press, (1998) Order/ review
||J.G. Friesen, "The Truth about False Memory Syndrome," Huntington
House, (1995). Order/ review
||R. Gartner, Ed., "Memories of Sexual Betrayal: Truth, Fantasy, Repression and
Dissociation," Jason Aronson, (1997). Order/ review
||C. Kelley, "Now I Remember: Recovered Memories of Sexual Abuse," K-R
Publications, (1994). Order/ review
this book *
||C.A. Ross et al "Abuse histories in 102 cases of multiple personality disorder",
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 36, P. 97-101
* We have been unable to find a review of
this book, and thus are not certain that this book promotes belief in the accuracy of
recovered memories. However, the title seems to imply that it does.
Books on RMT:
Key articles on RMT -- pro and con:
||Stan Abrams & Jared Abrams, False Memory Syndrome vs. Total Repression,
Journal of Psychiatry and Law, Summer 95. |
||Beahrs JO, Cannell JJ, Gutheil TG. "Delayed Traumatic Recall in Adults: A
Synthesis with Legal, Clinical, and Forensic Recommendations". Bulletin American
Academy of Psychiatry Law. 1996; 24:45-55.|
||Rachel Brown & Loni Parr, "Repressed memory claim referrals to the nurse
consultant. Report to the Mental Health Subcommittee, Crime Victims Compensation
Program", Department of Labor and Industries, State of Washington,
||Donna Femina, Child Abuse, Child Abuse and Neglect, 1990, V. 14, P. 227-231.|
||James Gleick, "The Doctor's Plot," New Republic , 1994-MAY-11.
It describes imaginary abuse by LGM
(little green men) on board UFO's. Online at: http://www.around.com/abduct.html
||Judith Herman and Emily Schatzow, Recovery and Verification of Memories of
Childhood Sexual Trauma, Psychoanalytic Psychology, 1987, V. 4, P. 1-14|
||P.L. Herndon, "False and Repressed Memories gain Media Spotlight",
Practitioner Focus, newsletter of the American Psychological Association, 1994-FEB; P. 3
||Journals dealing with RMT:|
||The Journal of Memory and Language (1996-APR; Vol 35, # 2) was devoted to
"illusions of memory". One article is: Ira Hyman & Joel Pentland "The
Role of Mental Imagery in the Creation of False Childhood Memories"
||A journal of the American Psychological Society, "Current
Directions in Psychological Science" had a special issue on false memories in
its 1997-JUN issue (Vol 6, #3).
||E.F. Loftus, "Remembering Dangerously," Skeptical Inquirer, 19,
20-29 (1995) Online at:
||Mark Pendergrast, "First of All, Do No Harm: A Recovered Memory
Therapist Recants: An Interview With Robin Newsome," Skeptic, Vol. 3,
#4, (1995), Pages 36 to 41. Online at: http://www.skeptic.com/03.4.pender-newsome-iv.html
The article describes a Christian therapist
who engaged in extensive recovered memory therapy. She finally realized that the memories
that she was dredging up in her clients had no basis in fact, and were contributing to the
destruction of their families of origin. She is now revisiting her clients and attempting
to undo some of the damage.|
||Poole, Lindsay, Memon, and Bull, "Psychotherapy and the Recovery of Memories
of Childhood Sexual Abuse: U.S. and British Practitioners' Opinions, Practices, and
Experiences.", Journal of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, 1995, Vol 63, No3.
||K.S. Pope, "Pseudoscience, cross examination , and
scientific evidence in the recovered memory controversy,"
Abstract, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 1998-DEC, Vol. 4, #3.|
||Pope & Hudson Can Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse be repressed?,
Psychological Medicine, V. 25, P. 121-126.|
|| The Psychology Place has an Op Ed Forum on recovered memories at http://www.psychplace.com/editorials/memory/
It features an article by D. Stephen Lindsay titled "Recovered-memory
Experiences: Explaining True and False Delayed Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse."|
||L.M. Williams, "Recall of childhood trauma: A prospective study of women's memories
of child sexual abuse," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, (1994), 62, 6,
Paul McHugh, "Ending the 'Memory Wars' does not
redeem the victims. Witch-trial zealotry has given way to sound
psychiatry - after vast damage was done," Baltimore Sun, 2003-MAR-3, at:
Latest update: 2005-DEC-30