Freud’s False Memories Book Review

Freud's False Memories

Freud’s False Memories – Psychoanalysis and the Recovered Memory Movement

Freud’s False Memories examines the role of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic beliefs and their role in the recovered memory movement.

By Richard Webster. Publisher: Orwell Press. Date: 1997.

The observation that Freud’s writings, and in particular his theory of repression, are the ultimate source of the recovered memory movement which has flourished in the United States in the last 20 years, has been made on a number of occasions already. The subject is a huge one and in order to avoid becoming ensnared by the present, Richard Webster has only touched upon it briefly in this attempt to review the psychoanalytic past.


One of the obstacles which stands in the way of any realistic appraisal of the recovered memory movement is the difficulty most people have in imaginatively grasping the sheer scale of it, and the extraordinary speed with which it has come to dominate the mental health debate in North America and to move rapidly up mental health agendas in many other countries. As Frederick Crews has written, ‘during the past decade or so a shockwave had been sweeping across North American psychotherapy and in the process causing major repercussions in our families, courts and hospitals. A single diagnosis for miscellaneous complaints – that of unconsciously repressed sexual abuse in childhood – has grown in this brief span from virtual non-existence to epidemic frequency.’


In this short book Richard Webster defines the phenomenon of recovered memory and traces the spread of it throughout North America in the late twentieth century. The limitations and errors of the belief system stem directly from Freud’s erroneous psychoanalytic theories.

This book is currently unavailable from Amazon, though copies may be obtained through the BFMS.

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