International Development, Community, and Environment

Title

'Recovered-Memory' Therapy: Profession at a Turning Point

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Six hundred Massachusetts-registered psychiatrists were surveyed for their opinions on items plausibly related to the production of false memories of childhood sexual abuse. One hundred fifty-four psychiatrists completed the written questionnaire. A majority of respondents (69%) endorsed the following statement: 'The numbers of false accusations of childhood sexual abuse, appearing to emerge from the psychotherapy of adults, constitute a real problem needing public acknowledgment as such by the mental health professions.' Nevertheless, a substantial minority endorsed the following practices: 37% endorsed searching for childhood roots of presenting complaints; 36% endorsed validation (expressed belief) of the patient's memories as an essential part of therapy; 36% believed in appropriateness of affect as an indicator of truth in memories; 36% believed in the therapeutic value of abreaction; 26% would refer presumed survivors of abuse to specialists in incest recovery, 18% believed in ritual abuse as an important cause of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and dissociative disorders; 18% trusted symptom checklists as indicators of sexual abuse histories; and 15% believed that memory is a complete record of the individual's history. Small minorities (6% to 8%) endorsed these practices: using hypnosis to gain access to repressed memories of childhood abuse; patient confrontation of alleged abusers; and recommending the severing of contacts with skeptical family members. A factor analysis was performed, and it was found that self- designated specialists were more likely than nonspecialists to score toward the riskier pole of the four factors extracted.

Publication Title

Comprehensive Psychiatry

Publication Date

1-1-1998

Volume

39

Issue

6

First Page

338

Last Page

344

ISSN

0010-440X

DOI

10.1016/S0010-440X(98)90045-1

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