A psychologist castigates his own profession for its role in false sexual abuse claims that have put innocent people behind bars, ruined families, and damaged patients in therapy. Campbell, a member of the Professional and Scientific Advisory Board of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, has previously published portions of the present work in a number of peer-reviewed journals. Here, he first examines the role of anxious parents, ill-informed health-care professionals, and overzealous prosecutors in legal cases involving false allegations of sexual abuse. He describes numerous disturbing cases, some that have been well publicized and others that have not, to reveal the error-prone procedures for assessing child abuse and the way in which play therapy for children can dramatically alter their memories. Next, he looks closely at the practice of recovered memory therapy, in which therapists persuade adult clients that their troubles originated in childhood sexual abuse, memories of which they have repressed. Campbell contends that recovered memory therapists, who may be doctoral-level psychologists, not just marginally trained practitioners, are bringing discredit to psychotherapy with their use of the blame-and-change approach (clients in therapy must blame family members in order to change themselves) and their persistence in clinging to misinformed theories about memory and repression. Campbell, who cites studies showing that therapists rely much more on subjective impressions than on scientific research, charges that within the American Psychological Association and other member organizations, political correctness and marketing concerns prevail over ethical responsibility and accuracy of information. In his final chapter, Campbell outlines the changes that he thinks psychotherapy must make, the likelihood of which he finds remote. A hard-hitting indictment—full of appalling human stories, impressive research, tough language, and charges that demand a response.
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