Unchained Memories: True Stories of Traumatic Memory Loss

Unchained Memories: True Stories of Traumatic Memory Loss

by Lenore Terr
     
 

Can a long-forgotten memory of a horrible event suddenly resurface years later? Proponents of so-called false memory syndrome say it's impossible. Child psychiatrist Lenore Terr now offers an important book on the cutting edge of this hotly debated issue. How can we know if a memory is true or false? Seven spellbinding cases, some taken from Terr's own experience as… See more details below

Overview

Can a long-forgotten memory of a horrible event suddenly resurface years later? Proponents of so-called false memory syndrome say it's impossible. Child psychiatrist Lenore Terr now offers an important book on the cutting edge of this hotly debated issue. How can we know if a memory is true or false? Seven spellbinding cases, some taken from Terr's own experience as an expert witness, shed light on why it is rare for a reclaimed memory to be wholly false. Here are unforgettable true stories of what happens when people remember what they've tried to forget - plus one case of genuine false memory. In the best detective-story fashion, using her insights as a psychiatrist and the latest research on the mind and brain, Lenore Terr helps us separate truth from fiction. Eileen Franklin's testimony convicted her father of raping and murdering her best friend twenty years earlier. Was she right? Movies and books are full of amnesia victims. Was Patricia Bartlett one, as she claimed - or was she just a drunk driver trying to get off the hook? Miss America of 1958 came from the perfect family, or so everyone thought - until she remembered her father's sexual abuse. Gary Baker dreaded being underwater, yet his hobby was diving. Then an image popped into his head - of his mother trying to drown him. A ten-year-old child accused her psychotherapists of Satanic abuse. Were these memories deliberately planted in her mind? Mystery writer James Ellroy remembers all but one detail of his mother's grisly murder - but that detail shows up in every book he writes. Ross Harriman struggled to remember the brother who died when Ross was four years old. Why was there this hole in his memory? The stories can be read in any order; each is complete in itself. But taken together they offer a wealth of information on the nature of memory. Terr explains the difference between splitting and dissociating, denial and displacement, the meaning of repression and fugue states, how the brain encodes

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With a notably unsensationalistic tone, memory expert Terr ( Too Scared to Cry ) tells five convincing tales concerning childhood trauma that was ``forgotten'' long before being ``recovered.'' Included is the 1990 California case of Eileen Franklin Lipsker, whose recovered memories led to her accusing her father of raping and killing her nine-year-old classmate 20 years earlier (he was convicted of the murder). Explaining our understanding of memory as it functions on a cellular level and exploring the relationship between behavior and buried memories, Terr eloquently laces her narratives with material from research studies and other ``lost memory'' cases, including those about which she has testified in court as an expert witness. She describes the gradually recovered memories of a medical researcher who was abused by his mother; and a 10-year-old girl's ``false'' memories of abuse by two doctors, an account Terr believes was perhaps inadvertently cued by suggestions planted by the child's parents. Terr offers a broad, balanced view of her topic even as she supports her thesis that accurate memories remain intact even after being ``lost'' for years. (Mar.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Much controversy exists about whether or not childhood memories repressed for many years can be fully retrieved in adulthood without major distortions (otherwise known as the ``false memory'' debate). In this fascinating book, Terr, author of Too Scared To Cry ( LJ 5/1/90), presents a well-balanced, insightful examination of memory. The themes and theories of what can go wrong with memory and how parts of a memory can become false are skillfully illustrated in seven case studies. The many ways we have of remembering and of forgetting are clearly detailed. Terr argues that all cases of reclaimed memories from childhood should be assessed individually and that taking a general stand on the truth or falsity of such memories is a mistake. This rare blend of science, research, and good storytelling makes for an exceptionally readable book that is hard to put down. Highly recommended for all psychology collections.-- January Adams, ODSI Research Lib., Raritan, N.J.
Booknews
Terr (psychiatry, Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute of the U. of Calif., San Francisco) has seriously researched a subject rife with controversy these days, and she presents her insights in the context of eight case studies. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
William Beatty
Terr describes in detail her work with seven individuals who suffered traumatic experiences, one of whom built up a false memory sequence as a result of her mother's scheming. Terr compares and contrasts victims who suffered one-time traumas with those whose traumatic experiences extended over considerable periods of time. She discusses the various mechanisms used in forming, restraining, and producing memories, well illustrating them through such case histories as that of a young girl who, besides being sexually abused herself, saw her father sexually abuse and murder a playmate; that of a woman suffering from dissociation who was thought to be drunk; and that of an unfavored son seeking memories and explanations of the role of his tragically killed favored brother. Terr writes clearly about a confusing subject and concludes with a helpful injunction that each case be examined individually and with an open mind.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465088232
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
02/01/1994
Pages:
304

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