Readers' reactions

March 24, 2000

Last week in The THES... Bernice Andrews argued that there is little evidence that patients are being prompted by therapists to invent memories * There is ample evidence that a veritable epidemic of false memories of sexual abuse took place in the late 1980s and early 1990s in North America and the United Kingdom. I wrote a book on the subject in which I covered the misguided form of therapy that usually led to such memories.

This therapy frequently used hypnosis, dream analysis and other pseudo-scientific methods to unearth "memories" of mythical abuse that tore families asunder and destroyed lives. It is unconscionable for Andrews to try to dismiss this phenomenon on the grounds of her three-year-old survey of therapists.

Under the auspices of the British Psychological Society, this survey interviewed a group of BPS therapists who reported what their clients allegedly had told them. This study is tantamount to asking the foxes not only to guard the henhouse, but why so many chickens have disappeared.

Mark

Pendergrast

Essex Junction,

Vermont, United States

Author of Victims of

Memory * Reporting the personal opinions of recovered memory therapists as "research" is absurd, misleading and irresponsible. The theory of "repressed" and "recovered" memories is held in such disrepute in the scientific and legal communities that the US legal system now routinely bars "therapists" from discussing this nonsense in front of juries.

Christopher

Barden

President

National Association for Consumer Protection in Mental Health Practices

* Bernice Andrews claims there is no persuasive evidence for the occurrence of false memories. Experimental evidence has been accumulating for some years and, in my opinion, is now impossible to dismiss so easily. There is also compelling evidence from non-experimental sources. Andrew Colman

Department of psychology University of Leicester

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