Unchained Memories: True Stories of Traumatic Memory Loss

Unchained Memories: True Stories of Traumatic Memory Loss

by Lenore Terr

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
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.
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.
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)

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