NYT: The Forgotten Lessons of the Recovered Memory Movement

AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in the New York Times by Ethan Watters: “The Forgotten Lessons of the Recovered Memory Movement.” As Watters writes,

What happened during recovered memory therapy sessions is no mystery. Therapists candidly revealed their techniques in books, conference speeches and academic papers and on daytime television talk shows. The process of hunting for abuse memories and overcoming the patient’s “denial” was not a subtle one.

Therapists used relaxation exercises, age regression, dream interpretation, psychodrama, sodium amytal and hypnosis to help clients visualize abuse. All of these techniques, we know now, are much more likely to distort memory than to enhance recall. Still, it is hard to believe that these tactics alone could have persuaded so many people to rewrite the histories of their childhoods so dramatically; what is often underappreciated is that much of the belief-building power of recovered memory therapy came from outside the consultation room.

The full piece can be read online here.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.