By Richard Schaeffer. Publisher: The Book Guild. Date: October 2017.
Richard Schaeffer has written a dramatic novel based on the damage recovered memory therapy can inflict on patients and their families.
The present account would strike one with no knowledge of ‘recovered memory’ therapy as simply incredible – how could such a devastating travesty be inflicted on a family one of whose members simply sought help from a clinical psychologist? Perhaps it is just literary licence or invention? Alas no: there are numerous attested cases which parallel the events described in this book and the situation is all too familiar to hundreds of families whose lives have been torn apart by the actions of irresponsible therapists. Such therapists tend to hold blindly to the dogmatic and insistent beliefs that certain events in the client’s childhood are the root cause of a whole host of adult psychological or physical complaints. If the client has no memory of the events which the therapist believes to have taken place then he or she must be ‘in denial’, and the way to salvation is for the therapist to ferret out the memory, to ‘recover’ it. Clients, looking for help from an authoritative and persuasive figure, can with the encouragement of such a person come to hold demonstrably false beliefs about their early lives, just as totally innocent people in the past could be firmly and deeply convinced that they really were witches.
From the Foreward. Professor Lawrence Weizkrantz, Emeritus Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, Fellow of the Royal Society.
Though some of the events in this story may seem hard to believe, they correspond very closely to what I once observed, when my colleagues used recovered memory techniques and produced similar drastic results. Although we now know more about the dangers of false memories, some therapists are continuing these risky practises to this day. This story offers a salutary reminder that permanent delusions about past abuse are a real possibility, and that therapists possess the tools to damage as well to help the lives of their clients.
Katharine Mair, retired Clinical Psychologist and author of Abused by Therapy: How Searching for Adult Trauma Can Damage Adult Lives (Matador, 2013).
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