Making Monsters Book Review

Making Monsters

Making Monsters By Richard Ofshe and Ethan Watters

Recovered memories can be false. Badly directed therapy can do more harm than good. In a groundbreaking work that offers a definitive account of one of the most pressing social and psychological issues of our time, Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Ofshe, and writer, Ethan Watters, examine false memories, psychotherapy and sexual hysteria.

By Richard Ofshe and Ethan Watters. Publisher: Andre Deutsch. Date: 1995.

I know many therapists and feminists who believe that skepticism about the excesses of the recovered memory therapy is either unwarranted (because false accusations are rare) or evidence of a national backlash against the reality of abuse. To them I can only say ‘Read Making Monsters, and you will understand how perilous the situation really is.’ I hope this important, compelling, persuasively written book will begin to puncutre the balloon of national hystieria, and let the true ‘healing’ begin.

Carol Tavris, author of the The Mismeasure of Women.


Making Monsters is a bold and courageous work that ought to be required reading for anyone concerned with recoverd memories.  It is at once a fine piece of scientific reasoning, a hair-raising account of therapeutic malpractice and judicial gullibility, and a stirring call for reform. No one will remain indifferent to this book; I believe that its impact will be both shattering and wholly beneficial.

Frederick Crews, author of Skeptical Engagement and The Unknown Freud and Chairman Emeritus of the Department of English, the University of California at Berkeley.


Making Monsters is thorough, insightful, and illumintating of the concepts that have led to the major misdirection of psychiatric thought in the last thirty-five years. Expertly researched, exciting to read, and powerful in its conclusions, it is a book that all students of human behaviour must read.

Paul R McHugh, Henry Phipps Professor of Psychiatry, John Hopkins Medical Instiutions.


Making Monsters is a bold, troubling, passionately argued indictment of recovered memory therapy. In a tone that is both scholarly and scathing, Ofshe and Watters wage war on therapueutic practices that have done immense harm to thousands of patients and their families. No one can read this book witout a sense of outrage at the damage that has been done and a profound feeling of gratitude for the courage of its authors.

Lawrence Wright, author of Remembering Satan


My review can’t do this book justice. You’d do best to simply buy it and read Ofshe/Watter’s case for yourself. This book is not an attack on the terrible crime of sexual abuse, but on the methodology used to verify the accuracy of SOME of these claims — generally, those resulting from repressed memory restoration.

The authors offer actual evidence to show how: 1. Even normal memories are highly unreliable and malleable. 2. Therapists lead the patient, imposing their own sexual abuse storyline over the patient’s feelings and experiences. 3. There is no proven mechanism by how, specifically, sexual abuse trauma would be forgotten — and not even leave a gap! — while other extreme trauma (including violence) would be remembered. 4. Many therapists have no concrete evidence for the veracity of their claims, and leaders in the movement actively ignore evidence contrary to their “theories” and therapies. (“If I had to wait for science to catch up, there’d be no way I could practice this!” asserts one movement leader.) 5. Many people who go through this therapy are in worse shape than they were before therapy.

This book is not speculative. Instead, it deals concretely with the claims of memory restoration therapists, evaluates their methodology and mindset and therepeutic practices, and gives credit where it is due, if necessary. Ofshe and Watters have come to see much of this sort of therapy as destructive and dishonest, rather than as validated through standard scientific practice — possibly a response to the social devaluation of women.

Note again that the authors’ point is not to dis-empower women who have been honestly victimized. They want to empower women to not be victimized by egotistical (albeit sometimes well-meaning) therapists, and help them find solutions for their real problems, rather than these sometimes fabricated ones.

These authors have opened the dialogue on this brand of pseudo-therapy. The strength of their case will be shown or disproved as proponents of memory restoration therapy counter their evidence (if they can). They’ve certainly laid out an objective and documented argument, in any case.

Amazon review.

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