Regression Therapy and False Accusations of Abuse

The Daily Mail has recently published an extensive article covering regression therapy and false accusations of abuse.  It features 3 case studies, with different examples of the damaging effect regression therapy has had on the lives of the subjects and their families.


Josephine had started therapy to quit smoking but became hooked. As the years passed, Alan had become accustomed to hearing her make ever more lurid and — he believes — fabricated claims against not just himself, but her former husband and maternal grandfather.

‘She was as convinced by these accusations as I was devastated,’ recalls Alan, who is in his 70s. ‘But they were so crazy, I was sure that they could easily be disproved.’

‘She said her therapist had “regressed” her back to a previous life, in which she had been abused by the ex-husband she’d recently divorced,’ recalls Alan, who also has two sons and nine grandchildren. ‘The idea of him existing in a previous life was outlandish. Still, I tried to strike a balance between cynicism and support.’

Since becoming popular in the U.S. in the Eighties, this therapy has been largely discredited because of its persistent association with what has been described as ‘false memory syndrome’, in which patients make untrue allegations — usually against their parents and involving sexual or physical abuse.

‘Sadly, some psychotherapists are still using these dangerous techniques,’ says Chris French, a psychology professor specialising in memory, at Goldsmiths, University of London.

‘Society finds it easy to accept the idea that a victim of abuse has repressed the memory and that a skilled therapist can bring it to the surface.

‘But there is little evidence to support the idea that a traumatic experience will be pushed into the unconscious mind. You are far more likely to remember a traumatic event than forget it.’


The article addresses 2 other cases as well – those of Carol Felstead and Maxine Berry.  In the former one, Carol Felstead accused her parents, family, police, MPs and Cabinet Ministers of being members of a nationwide Satanic cult that sacrificed children to the devil.

An investigation by Carol’s family following her death discovered she had been treated with regression therapy for 20 years.

Her father said: ‘It was shameless quackery.’

Nevertheless, since the exact cause of Carol’s death at the age of 41 has still not been ascertained, the family are seeking a third inquest to find out exactly how she died.

Maxine Berry, after receiving treatment when she was just entering adulthood, accused her father of abuse and murder at the instigation of her therapists.


I was so convinced he’d done it, I drew a picture of the crime scene to show my therapist,’ says Maxine. ‘Fortunately, there was simply no evidence to back up my claims.’

But her therapists continued to provoke her. ‘When I was 23, they told me that because I’d been abused, I’d be more likely to abuse any children I had,’ she recalls. As a result, she was sterilised.

‘I told Maxine it was ludicrous, but her choice,’ recalls Brian, who admits his wife’s allegations placed an almost intolerable strain on their relationship.

‘They were so preposterous I knew they were false. She’d say her father had tied her up and held her in the basement for days without food. Were it true, she would have been dead. But I knew she was ill and still loved her.’


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