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We consider here only those instances where:

bulletA patient or client enters therapy with no memory of childhood abuse.
bulletUsually after many months of therapy, partial images of abuse start to appear.
bulletAs therapy continues, these images coalesce into what feel like memories of abuse.

We do not consider here cases where:

bulletcontinuous memories exist -- those that  have been present from the time of the attack to the present, or
bulletdormant memories exist -- instances where abuse has apparently been forgotten, but had subsequently flooded back into consciousness in response to a trigger (e.g. a newspaper article, a photograph, a visit to the location of abuse etc.)

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Types of images:

The type of images which develop during RMT appears to depend upon the therapist. RMT seems to be a technique in which the patient adopts the beliefs of the therapist without either being aware of the process.

The most common types of recovered memories were:

bulletmemories of sexual abuse and/or incest during childhood. The father is often remembered as the perpetrator. The abuse is often recalled as being facilitated, permitted or ignored by the other parent.
bulletIn about 18% of the instances of recovered memory of childhood sexual abuse, recollections of ritual abuse are later uncovered. These typically involve Satanic cults or a men's fraternal organization (e.g. the Masonic order).
bulletmemories of kidnapping by aliens and being forcibly subjected to intrusive, often horrendous medical experiments on UFO's.
bulletmemories of physical or sexual abuse during a former lifetime. The client is age regressed back to childhood, to their birth and finally to an earlier lifetime where they often recall abuse.

Childhood sexual abuse images appear to be quite believable; we know that child sexual abuse and incest is relatively common. Whether true or not, they can also be the most damaging form of recovered memories, because the alleged perpetrators are usually members of the client's family of origin.  During therapy, the client is often urged to terminate all contact with the family. The splitting or destruction of the family frequently follows.

Images of abuse by Satanic cults or Masonic groups are less believable, because no hard evidence of such abuse has ever been found to corroborate the images. They can be as damaging as images of incest and sexual abuse, because the patient will often recall specific individuals who they believe abused them.

Abuse by little green men on UFO's or by unknown perpetrators in a prior life has less potential for damage.  These forms of abuse cannot lead to accusations against parents and others, with the resultant court battles, destroyed reputations, overwhelming stress and immense legal costs. There is no hard evidence of it ever occurring.

Therapists who are committed to the widespread incidence of childhood sexual abuse recover such images in most of their clients (some claim 80 to 100% of their clients). Therapists who believe in UFO's and in little green men under every rock recover such memories in most of their clients. So too do therapists who believe in past lives, Satanic Ritual Abuse or abuse by secret organizations.

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Possible conclusions:

  1. If most recovered images are accurate recollections, then the vast majority of adults who have emotional problems were sexually abused as children by family members and by evil cults. Also they were abused on board UFO's, and abused in former lifetimes. That is, most of them have been abused in multiple ways by multiple groups of perpetrators, perhaps over many centuries. However, only those images that match the belief system of the therapists actually surface during therapy.
  2. If most recovered images are false recollections of events that never happened, then such memories are a form of iatrogenic (physician induced) disorder: false beliefs inadvertently facilitated in clients by their therapists.

The second explanation has received increasing support by memory researchers, the mental health community, courts, and the general public. It has become apparent that suggestive therapy techniques, by loving, concerned but terribly misguided therapists had created many victims, including:

bulletTheir clients who are partly or completely disabled by the experience.
bulletThe innocent persons accused of performing the abuse.
bulletSiblings of the client who have been forced to choose sides.

Many families have been split and many suicides caused by false memories.

Fortunately, recovered "memories" which are false were usually very different from the reality of the client's life. If they were not continually reinforced, they tended to become less believable with time. This causes many "survivors" to eventually become "recanters" and finally reject the memories as false. Unfortunately, some clients commit suicide and/or some parents die before this point is reached. Other recanters find that they are unable to reunite with their families; the devastation has been so great that forgiveness is impossible.

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Copyright © 1997 to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2005-FEB-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

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