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Ofshe, Richard; Watters, Ethan Making Monsters,
Ofshe, Richard; Watters, Ethan
Making Monsters, 1994
False memories, psychotherapy, and sexual hysteria
In the last decade, reports of incest have exploded into the natural consciousness. Americans, primarily women, have come forward with graphic memories of childhood abuse. Making Monsters examines the methods of therapists who treat patients for depression by working to draw out memories or, with the use of hypnosis, to encourage the fantasies of childhood abuse which patients are told they have repressed.
An Unscientific Polemic
This book is based on anecdotal evidence, and ignores completely the scientific evidence that traumatic events can be forgotten, only to be remembered years later. The author is a founding member of the "False Memory Syndrome Foundation". There is no scientific evidence whatsoever for "false memory syndrome"... in fact, there is not even a scientific *definition* of this "syndrome". Please balance your reading with scientific literature on memory and abuse, such as those by Kenneth S. Pope or Jennifer Freyd.
STRONG case against Memory Repression
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.