A forceful, persuasive indictment of the fad of repressed memory therapy and its attendant theories of multiple personality...


"MAKING MONSTERS: False Memory, Psychotherapy and Sexual Hysteria"

A forceful, persuasive indictment of the fad of repressed memory therapy and its attendant theories of multiple personality disorder and satanic cult abuse. Ofshe (Social Psychology/Univ. of Calif., Berkeley), a Pulitzer Prize winner for public service reporting, and Mother Jones contributor Watters document the harm done by psychotherapists who practice memory therapy. Using the writings of its practitioners, the authors examine cases to show how powerful therapeutic techniques, such as hypnosis and guided imagery, implant in patients the erroneous belief that they are uncovering repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse. As memory therapy has grown, so has the diagnosis of multiple personality disorder, which the authors charge is a product of such therapy. Multiple personalities are believed to be formed in response to childhood abuse, and memory therapists claim that each alter personality can produce a set of memories of that abuse. Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of repressed memory therapy is the assertion by some of its leading proponents that among the abusers they have uncovered a secret international satanic cult linked to (among others) the Mafia, the Ku Klux Klan, and the CIA. Here the authors manfully resist the impulse to poke fun, but their disbelief is clear. Unsubstantiated theories are nothing new in the mental health field, but they assert that the current popularity of memory therapy is an especially serious problem. Aside from the primary victims -- the patients subjected to such therapy -- the authors point to the harm done to their families, who often must defend themselves in court against false accusations of abuse. Their hope is that mental health empiricists, who argue that practice should be based on scientific observation, will carry the day. Looks at some of the same cases as Elizabeth Loftus's The Myth of Repressed Memory (p. 908) but covers more ground and digs deeper. Sure to provoke angry outcries.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994


Page Count: 323

Publisher: Scribners

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994