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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 safely order them online from the 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.

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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 as among the "Best of 2001":

bullet 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 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.
bullet 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.
bullet Daniel Schacter, "The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers," Houghton Mifflin Company, (2002). Read reviews or order this book.
bullet 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 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 memory.

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."

bullet  E. Loftus & K. Letcham, "The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and the Allegations of Sexual Abuse," St. Martin's Press, (1996). Order/ review this book 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."
bullet C.J, Brainerd & V.F. Reyna, "The Science of False Memory," Oxford University Press, (2005). Order/ review this book

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 memory research.

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Books on reuniting families:

bullet B. LeBey, "Family estrangements: How they begin; how to mend them; how to cope with them," Longstreet (2001) You can safely order this book or read a review of it at 
bullet M. McGoldrick, "You can go home again: Reconnecting with your family," Norton (1995) Order/review this book
bullet C. Netzger, "Cutoffs: How family members who sever relationships can reconnect," New Horizon, (1996) Order/ review this book

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Additional books by skeptics of the reliability of recovered memories:

bullet 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 
bullet Terence Campbell, "Smoke and Mirrors: The Devastating Effect of False Sexual Abuse Claims," Insight Books, (1998). Order/ review this book

"A hard-hitting indictment - full of appalling human stories, impressive research, tough language, and charges that demand a response." Kirkus Associates

bullet J. deRivera & T. Sarbin, Eds., "Believed-In Imaginings: The Narrative Construction of Reality" American Psychological Association, (1998). Order/ review this book
bullet J.M. Feldman: "Stranger Than Fiction: When Our Minds Betray Us", American Psychiatric Press, Washington DC (1998). Order/ review this book
bullet 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 this book
bullet R. Ofshe & E. Watters, "Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy and Sexual Hysteria," University of California Press, (1996).  Order/ review this book 
bullet M. Pendergrast, "Victims of Memory: Sex Abuse Accusations and Shattered Lives," Upper Access, (1996).  Order/ review this book 
bullet 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.
bullet 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 this book 
bullet 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 this book
bullet 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.
bullet M.D. Yapko, "Suggestions of Abuse: True and False Memories of Childhood Sexual Trauma", Simon & Schuster, Diane Publ. Co. (1994) Order/ review this book

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Books by believers in the reliability of recovered memories:

bullet C. Bowman, "Children's Past Lives: How Past Life Memories Affect Your Child," (1997) Order/ review this book 
bullet E. Bass & L. Davis, "The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse," Harperperennial Library, (1994). Order/ review this book
bullet M. Contratto & M. Gutfreund, Eds., "A Feminist Clinician's Guide to the Memory Debate," (1996) Order/ review this book *
bullet R. Fredrickson, "Repressed Memories: A Journey to Recovery from Sexual Abuse," Smith & Schuster, (1992). Order/ review this book
bullet J. Freyd, "Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse," Harvard University Press, (1998) Order/ review this book
bullet J.G. Friesen, "The Truth about False Memory Syndrome," Huntington House, (1995). Order/ review this book
bullet R. Gartner, Ed., "Memories of Sexual Betrayal: Truth, Fantasy, Repression and Dissociation," Jason Aronson, (1997). Order/ review this book
bullet C. Kelley, "Now I Remember: Recovered Memories of Sexual Abuse," K-R Publications, (1994).  Order/ review this book *
bullet 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.

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Books on RMT:

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Key articles on RMT -- pro and con:

bullet Stan Abrams & Jared Abrams, False Memory Syndrome vs. Total Repression, Journal of Psychiatry and Law, Summer 95.
bullet 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.
bullet 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, 1996.
bullet Donna Femina, Child Abuse, Child Abuse and Neglect, 1990, V. 14, P. 227-231.
bullet 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:
bullet Judith Herman and Emily Schatzow, Recovery and Verification of Memories of Childhood Sexual Trauma, Psychoanalytic Psychology, 1987, V. 4, P. 1-14
bullet P.L. Herndon, "False and Repressed Memories gain Media Spotlight", Practitioner Focus, newsletter of the American Psychological Association, 1994-FEB; P. 3 & 15
bullet Journals dealing with RMT:
bullet 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"
bullet 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).
bullet E.F. Loftus, "Remembering Dangerously," Skeptical Inquirer, 19, 20-29 (1995)  Online at:
bullet 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: 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.
bullet 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. 426-437.
bullet 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.
bullet Pope & Hudson Can Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse be repressed?, Psychological Medicine, V. 25, P. 121-126.
bullet The Psychology Place has an Op Ed Forum on recovered memories at It features an article by D. Stephen Lindsay titled "Recovered-memory Experiences: Explaining True and False Delayed Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse."
bullet 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, 1167-1176.

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  1. 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

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