Making Monsters

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In the last decade, reports of incest have exploded into the national consciousness. Magazines, talk shows, and mass market paperbacks have all jumped into the fray, as many Americans - primarily women - have come forward with graphic and true stories of sexual and psychological abuse. Many of these stories, however, have emerged from recovered memory therapy, a process by which the therapist leads the patient to recall long-buried memories. Now the Pulitzer Prize-winning social psychologist Richard Ofshe and ...
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Overview

In the last decade, reports of incest have exploded into the national consciousness. Magazines, talk shows, and mass market paperbacks have all jumped into the fray, as many Americans - primarily women - have come forward with graphic and true stories of sexual and psychological abuse. Many of these stories, however, have emerged from recovered memory therapy, a process by which the therapist leads the patient to recall long-buried memories. Now the Pulitzer Prize-winning social psychologist Richard Ofshe and Mother Jones writer Ethan Watters demonstrate that these recovered memories can be false, fabricated in the highly charged atmosphere of therapy, usually through questionable techniques such as hypnosis. Ofshe and Watters not only take to task poorly trained therapists - and in many states no real clinical experience is required to practice - they also show how the mental health establishment has actually added to the confusion. Ofshe and Watters trace the problem back to its source - Sigmund Freud - and illuminate how and why the debate about recovered memories will drive psychology in the future. Making Monsters is groundbreaking science with powerful stories. It comes at a time when parents and friends of recovered memory patients, wrongly accused of violent physical and emotional abuse, are banding together, searching for real answers to difficult questions. Timely and controversial, this book exposes a profound social and psychological crisis, and will curb a popular craze that is destroying thousands of families. Its message cannot be ignored.

Countless Americans have recently come forward with tales of sexual abuse by their parents, secrets they say were unlocked through "memory retrieval." Now, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Richard Ofshe and Mother Jones writer Ethan Watters unequivocally prove that retrieved memories are false, and that False Memory Syndrome is needlessly destroying thousands of families.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This is the most thoroughgoing and powerful critique to date of the use of recovered memories in psychotherapy. Many retrieved memories of childhood sexual abuse, the authors argue, are fabrications generated in a coercive, highly charged atmosphere using questionable therapeutic techniques such as hypnosis, dream analysis, artwork and the constant revisiting and rewriting of vague early memories. Ofshe, a social psychology professor at UC Berkeley and a Pulitzer-winning reporter, and freelance writer Watters extend their analysis to include alleged sufferers of multiple-personality disorder and people who claim to have been abused or tortured by satanic cults that engage in sacrificial murder and rape. The authors name names, attacking therapists, experts and writers, and they cover such well-publicized cases involving recovered memories as the 1990 San Francisco murder trial that convicted George Franklin on the basis of his daughter Eileen Lipsker's accusation that he had killed her childhood friend Susan Nasson 20 years earlier. This report is certain to escalate a heated public debate. (Oct.)
Booknews
Ofshe (social psychology, UC Berkeley) and Watters demonstrate that memories recovered from memory therapy can be fabricated through questionable techniques such as hypnosis. The authors show how the mental health establishment has added to the confusion, trace the problem back to its source, Sigmund Freud, and discuss the creation of pseudomemories, multiple personality disorder, and recent research in the field. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Ilene Cooper
If you haven't heard of false memory syndrome and the controversy it engenders, you haven't seen a talk show recently. In the last decade, there has been a veritable explosion of cases in which (mostly) women in therapy remember being sexually abused by their parents. In many instances, the memories escalate, and the patients eventually exhibit symptoms of multiple personality disorder or recall being victims of satanic cults. Ofshe, a social psychologist, and Watters, a "Mother Jones" writer, examine this psychological phenomenon and offer two explanations for its current prevalence: either recovered-memory therapists have achieved a breakthrough in the understanding of the human mind, in which case much that is fundamental about our understanding of psychology will need to be reinterpreted, or the practice of uncovering repressed memories has been built into a pseudoscience by therapists who have created "an Alice-in-Wonderland world in which opinion, metaphor, and ideological preference substitute for objective evidence." Firmly supporting the latter view, the authors offer a thoughtfully written, restrained (even a bit dry), and generally persuasive examination of what false memory syndrome reveals about society as well as ourselves.
From Barnes & Noble
A passionate indictment of recovered memory therapy--the process by which a therapist leads the patient to recall long-buried memories--and its damaging repercussions.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684196985
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 9/15/1994
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 1.29 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction 1
1 The Myths of Memory 15
2 Effort After Meaning 45
3 Symptoms of Pseudoscience 65
4 Creation of the Abuse Narrative 83
5 Investment in Belief 107
6 Life with Father 123
7 Hypnosis and the Creation of Pseudomemories 139
8 Two Cases of Hypnotic Story Creation 155
9 Reason and Darkness: The Strange Stories of Satanic Abuse 177
10 Multiple Personality Disorder: The Creation of a Sickness 205
11 Therapy of a High Priestess 225
12 The Murder, the Witness, and the Psychiatrist 253
13 Deaths in the Family 273
Conclusion: The Etiology of Recovered Memory Therapy 289
Afterword: Recovered Memory Therapy in Perspective 305
Appendix: Three Papers 325
Notes 333
Bibliography 343
Index 353
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