Monday, May 3, 2010

The Courage to Heal? or The Courage to Blame?

Is it really true that we can recall past "repressed" memories or are these really just concocted, rebuilt stories of events that once occurred? Many people are beginning to claim that through the power of hypnosis they are able to recover memories that have been gone for years, even decades.
Can this really happen? Is a therapist really able to put you into a state that allows you to uncover things you once had no memory of? According to the book "The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse" coauthor Ellen Bass claims this is possible.

This book begins with the disclaimer that the author is not "academically educated as a psychologist." With even further admittance that the book is not based on fact with Bass stating "none of what is presented here is based on psychological theories," this book has still become the "Bible" of the incest-recovery movement.

How can this be? Well, that explanation is easy. The authors of the book reach out to anyone who feel as though they may have been sexually abused at some point in their life. They state "If you are unable to remember any specific instances of abuse . . . but still have a feeling that something abusive happened to you, it probably did." Who wouldn't want the confirmation that the nagging feeling their having is in fact, the truth. Even more amazing, the authors go on to assure the readers that their feelings can be taken as proof that "something happened" even if their memories have yet to surface.

Books like this are what lead to things like the 1990 conviction of George Franklin of the rape and murder of his daughters best friend based on the recovery of a repressed memory she discovered after a hypnosis session with her therapist. The jury convicted her father based on nothing more than her testimony of her 20 year old repressed memory.

Books like this, based on nothing more than opinion, but stated as facts, are what lead to our society falling for false claims and belief in things based on pseudoscience.

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