"UNCHAINED MEMORIES: True Stories of Traumatic Memories, Lost and Found" by

"UNCHAINED MEMORIES: True Stories of Traumatic Memories, Lost and Found"

By
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Artfully told stories of the often-astonishing discovery of memories of traumatic childhood events. A child psychiatrist well-versed in trauma and memory, Terr has studied victims' recollection of the Chowchilla schoolbus kidnapping (Too scared to Cry, 1990) and child witnesses' memories of the Challenger disaster. Here, her research on trauma and memory enriches her narrative, making it far more than good journalism. The first and longest account concerns Eileen Lipsker, who suddenly and vividly recalled seeing her father kill her childhood playmate 20 years earlier (Terr came to know Lipsker when appearing as an expert witness for the prosecution in the murder trial of Lipsker's father). In two other accounts, Terr was a witness for the defense, explaining old-fashioned psychological amnesia to one jury and false memories to another. In the first, the defendant had suffered episodes of amnesia since seeing her mother burn to death, and in the second, a young girl had falsely accused her doctors of sexual abuse. Child abuse figures in two other stories -- one involving a man whose repressed memories of his mother sexually abusing him and attempting to drown him returned with terrifying force, another about a former Miss America overwhelmed by the return of memories of incest. Shorter accounts describe how James Ellroy, author of Black Dahlia and other violent crime novels, had displaced memories of his own mother's brutal slaying, and how a radio talk-show host succeeded in recalling memories of a long-dead brother. Terr interviewed all but the young girl, whom she studied via audio and video tapes, and for each interview she includes convincing data on trauma and memory to clarify their stories. First-rate medical detection that lights up a corner of the human mind.

Pub Date: March 16th, 1994
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Basic Books