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Schacter, Daniel L (Editor)                            Memory Distortion, 1995

Schacter, Daniel L                                          Searching for Memory, 1996

Shermer, Michael                                            Why People Believe Weird Things, 1997

Showalter, Elaine                                            Hystories, 1997

Simpson, Dr. Paul                                           Second Thoughts, 1996

Spanos, Nicholas P.                                       Multiple Identities and False Memories, 1996



Schacter, Daniel L (Editor)
Memory Distortion, 1995
How minds, brains and societies reconstruct the past


Booknews, Inc. , April 1, 1996
A collection of 16 multidisciplinary essays exploring hypnosis, confabulation, source amnesia, flashbulb memories, repression, and other intriguing mental machinations. Contributors' fields range from cognitive psychology, psychopathology, psychiatry, and neurobiology to sociology, history, and religion. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

The publisher, Harvard University Press , December 12, 1997
Hypnosis, confabulation, source amnesia, flashbulb memories, repression--these and numerous additional topics are explored in this collection of essays by eminent scholars in a range of disciplines. This is the first book on MEMORY DISTORTION to unite contributions from cognitive psychology, psychopathology, psychiatry, neurobiology, sociology, history, and religious studies. It brings the most relevant group of perspectives to bear on some key contemporary issues, including the value of eyewitness testimony and the accuracy of recovered memories of sexual abuse.

Daniel Schacter launches the collection with a history of psychological MEMORY DISTORTION. Subsequent highlights include new empirical findings on memory retrieval by a pioneer in the field, new findings on amnesia by a premier neuroscientist, and reflections on the power of collective amnesia in U.S. history, the Nazi Holocaust, and ancient Egypt.

“Human memory [is not] like a photograph album, a collection of cassettes, compact discs or videos or any other accumulative archive of the past. Rather, memories are fragmentary, condensed, often distorted and inaccurate representations of past experience. This point is made in impressive detail by all the contributors to this excellent collection of essays on MEMORY DISTORTION...MEMORY DISTORTION provides an outstanding multidisciplinary perspective on memory accuracy, ranging from cognitive psychology through psychiatry, neuropsychology and neurobiology, to sociocultural analyses.” --Martin A. Conway, NATURE


Schacter, Daniel L
Searching for Memory, 1996
The brain, the mind, and the past

Daniel Schacter, a Harvard professor of psychology and researcher into the workings of memory and the brain, authoritatively summarizes the most up-to-date scientific knowledge in this controversial field. Many of the advances have come from the study of brain-damaged patients: some remember past events clearly, yet forget the basics of everyday knowledge; others have precisely the reverse affliction. Putting this work together with brain scans and experiments on normal people, a useful understanding has emerged of the connections between the brain and the mind, and of the different types of memory. Schacter also bravely refutes the notion of "recovered memory," arguing persuasively that false memories can be easily created

The New York Times Book Review, Stuart Sutherland
This is an excellent book on an important topic.

The New Yorker
This splendidly lucid book . . . approaches subjects that have been sensationalized -- hypnosis, multiple personality, and 'recovered' memories of sexual abuse -- calmly, rationally, and believably. --

From Booklist, June 1, 1996
Schacter describes what memory is and how it works, explaining with admirable clarity such complicated subjects as the hippocampus and other pertinent areas of the brain and how they function, and he reviews the major advances in memory research that such techniques as positron-emission tomography have recently made possible. Memory, he shows, does not resemble a simple computer file; it is much more complicated and is influenced by many physical and emotional elements. The subjective sense of pastness is also important to it; claims for exact memory of conversations and other events, he points out, are often misleading. Further, his consideration of the problems of repressed memories is one of the best analyses of them in recent literature. Detailed, readable, well documented, his effort is a useful addition to popular and scholarly scientific collections alike. What's more, Schacter draws on his personal art collection to strikingly illustrate his report. William Beatty Copyright© 1996, American Library Association.


Shermer, Michael
Why People Believe Weird Things, 1997
Pseudoscience, superstition, and other confusions of our time

Few can talk with more personal authority about the range of human beliefs than Michael Shermer. At various times in the past, Shermer has believed in fundamentalist Christianity, alien abductions, Ayn Rand, megavitamin therapy, and deep-tissue massage. Now he believes in skepticism, and his motto is "Cognite tute--think for yourself." This updated edition of Why People Believe Weird Things covers Holocaust denial and creationism in considerable detail, and has chapters on abductions, Satanism, Afrocentrism, near-death experiences, Randian positivism, and psychics. Shermer has five basic answers to the implied question in his title: for consolation, for immediate gratification, for simplicity, for moral meaning, and because hope springs eternal. He shows the kinds of errors in thinking that lead people to believe weird (that is, unsubstantiated) things, especially the built-in human need to see patterns, even where there is no pattern to be seen. Throughout, Shermer emphasizes that skepticism (in his sense) does not need to be cynicism: "Rationality tied to moral decency is the most powerful joint instrument for good that our planet has ever known." --Mary Ellen Curtin

Martin Gardner, author of Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus
Brilliant, informed, and incisive dissections of bogus science and history are a major contribution to what one dares hope is a backlash against the still rising tide of New Age nonsense and public gullibility.

Jared Diamond, author of The Third Chimpanzee
This sparkling book romps over the range of science and anti-science.

Book Description
UFO abductions...television psychics...creationism...Holocaust denial. Faced with the rapid changes and anxiety of modern life, many people are turning to the alluring comforts of pseudoscience and the occult. In Why People Believe Weird Things, science historian Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic magazine and director of the Skeptics Society, explores the very human reasons we find supernatural phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing. Shermer also reveals the darker and more fearful side of wishful thinking, including Holocaust denial, creationism, the recovered memory movement, alien abduction experiences, the satanic ritual abuse scare and other modern witch crazes, extreme Afrocentrism, and ideologies of racial superiority. A compelling and often disturbing portrait of our immense capacity for self-delusion, Why People Believe Weird Things celebrates the scientific spirit and the joy to be found in rationally exploring the world's greatest mysteries even if many of the questions remain unanswered. Foreword by Stephen Jay Gould. 20 illustrations.


Showalter, Elaine
Hystories, 1997
Hysterical epidemics and modern media

The press is full of stories: thousands suffer from chronic fatigue or Gulf War Syndrome. There are claims of recovered memories of childhood abuse, or, even more dramatic, alien abductions. Elaine Showalter, a Princeton literature professor and medical historian who has also served as television critic for People magazine, looks at these popular afflictions and concludes that they all are manifestations of hysteria. And it's really nothing new. In Hystories Showalter takes on the history of mass cultural hysteria (witch hunts and mesmerism are two old examples) and discusses today's versions and the attendant publicity. This is a book that's provocative for being so entirely reasonable.

Health and Fitness Editor's Recommended Book
Hysteria is tough to define, but Elaine Showalter knows it when she sees it. She argues that a host of phenomena, both medical and fantastical--alien abductions, recovered memories, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple personalities--arise from a tripartite collaboration between physicians and mental-health professionals, unhappy patients, and a voracious, gullible media. Stories that should be metaphorical ("I feel that I've been taken advantage of in some way.") become real: "I have a recovered memory of ritual satanic abuse." She makes her case brilliantly, explaining the history, causes, and reactions, but offers no pat solution. "The hysterical syndromes of the 1990s clearly speak to the hidden needs and fears of a culture," she writes. When these go away, new ones will surely crop up to reflect the anxieties of a different era

The New York Times Book Review, Carol Tavris
Elaine Showalter ... has written a spirited Freudo-literary analysis of what she calls hysterical epidemics and what social scientists call emotional contagions or mass psychogenic illnesses ... She knows full well that ... the mix will "infuriate thousands of people who believe they are suffering from unidentified organic disorders or the after-effects of trauma." She braves not only their wrath, but also that of the feminist therapists and writers whose "credulous endorsements of recovered memory and satanic abuse" have contributed to these epidemics. This attitude alone is worth the price of the book.

From Kirkus Reviews , February 1, 1997
Applied scholarship in the best interdisciplinary tradition, examining how hysteria, the individual somaticization of anxiety, devolves to the ``hystories,'' or cultural narratives, of the title and how they in turn escalate into psychogenic epidemics. Feminist literary critic and medical historian Showalter (Humanities/Princeton Univ.) identifies six contemporary syndromes as hysterical epidemics, which arise when influential professional gurus impact on vulnerable populations in culturally supportive environments. Showalter modifies her own endorsement (The Female Malady, 1985) of feminist therapy/therapeutic feminism as she attacks the credulousness of ``the feminist embrace of all abuse narratives and the treatment of all women as survivors.'' But psychotherapy is, Showalter claims, part of the solution to the problem that she expands on fluently in the idioms of psychoanalysis, feminism, and literature. When she moves to address chronic fatigue and Gulf War syndromes (rather too absolutely) as psychological in origin, her zeal biases her rhetorical and reportorial judgment; however, on the overlapping hystories of recovered memory, multiple personality disorder, satanic ritual abuse, and alien abduction, the advocates convict themselves--of fascination with conspiracy, of accommodating to guilt and fear by licensing the projecting of blame onto others, and above all of resolute obliviousness to ``the way . . . suggestion worked to produce confabulation.'' Showalter has fun with the compound- bizarre, e.g., Harvard psychiatrist John Mack's speculation that remembered sexual abuse actually screens repressed episodes of alien abduction. But she honors the ``spiritual resonance'' lodged even in the narratives she makes sport of: Her quarrel is not with the symptoms of hysteria; she affirms the they are no less real (and no less treatable) than those of organic diseases. It is with the ``social appropriations'' of hysteria (such as the ramifications of incest accusations based on ``recovered'' memory) that she takes issue, and in defense of emotional mystery and narrative truth that she risks the wrath of the epidemics' suffering proponents by challenging them. Muscular, probably inflammatory, and elegantly expressed. --


Simpson, Dr. Paul
Second Thoughts, 1996
Understanding the false memory crisis and how it could affect you,


Once a leading practitioner of Recovered Memory Therapy, Dr. Paul Simpson concludes that he had been "horrifically wrong", and that the movement has contributed to untold suffering in families where there have been false accusations of sexual abuse.

A reader from San Luis Obispo, California , November 12, 1998,
An accurate, thoughtful account of false memory .
Dr. Paul Simpson presents an honest, most accurate account of the the effects of Recovered Memory Therapy and its tragic aftermath. Falsely accused parents and client/victims of RMT will find answers to the many questions related to this phenomenom. As a "retractor" of false memories and a therapist intern, I appreciated Dr. Simpson's courage to come forward as a therapist who had once been involved with this most unethical treatment. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Simpson at a recent conference. There, he apologized to all parents and clients negatively effected by RMT. His apology, given in the name of all RMT therapists, touched my heart. This book is a "must read" for all therapists and those who have recovered memories of abuse. I encourage all to read this book with an open mind. Take the time to have Second Thoughts.


Spanos, Nicholas P.
Multiple Identities and False Memories, 1996
A sociocognitive perspective


Nicholas P. Spanos, one of the world's leading experts in the study of hypnosis, delivers a blistering rebuttal to many long-held assumptions about Multiple Personality Disorder, or MPD, now classified in the DSM-IV as Dissociative Identity Disorder or DID. This book argues that MPD is not a legitimate psychiatric disorder but a cultural construct with roots in earlier beliefs about demonic possession.

Dr Robert M. Zacharko from Canada , June 1, 1998,
Dr Nicholas P. Spanos was an excellent researcher, a prolific writer and an incredible scientist. Dr Spanos provides a cogent, credible and a scientific explanation for multiple personality disorders and false memory syndrome, among others. His convincing, documented accounts return analyses to a scientific realm rather than the halls of medical sooth sayers with special insights.