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Victims of Memory: Sex Abuse Accusations and Shattered Lives

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An honest account of a father's loss and his plea for reconciliation, this book is also a definitive scholarly work on recovered memory therapy and is widely hailed by professional psychologists.

The book contains no figures.

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Hinesburg, Vermont, U.S.A. 1996 Paperback New 0942679180. FLAWLESS COPY, BRAND NEW, NEVER OPENED--636 pp., Oversize softcover--DESCRIPTION: Each year, more than a million ... Americans are convinced by their therapists (or by misguided "self-help" books) that their childhoods were not as happy as they thought--that they harbored repressed memories of horrendous abuse by their parents, other relatives, and even satanic cults. Their identities are destroyed, their pasts rewritten, and their families are torn apart. Several books have been written about this strange phenomenon, some of them very good, but Pendergrast's has been consistently acclaimed by reviewers as the most comprehensive, balanced, and readable coverage of the topic. Originally published in 1995, the book was so highly received that a second edition came out just a year later. --REVIEWS: A Few of the Many, Many Great Reviews--"An impressive display of scholarship. Pendergrast demonstrates a laudable ability to lay out all sides of the argument." Read more Show Less

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Overview

An honest account of a father's loss and his plea for reconciliation, this book is also a definitive scholarly work on recovered memory therapy and is widely hailed by professional psychologists.

The book contains no figures.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Karen M. Donahey
This book examines the recovering memory controversy in comprehensive detail by exploring the social, cultural, and individual factors that lie behind the accusations. The author, an accused parent himself, argues that the lack of science underlying recovering memory therapy has produced the current scourge of pseudomemories and confabulations. The purpose of the book is to provide readers with the available scientific information on how memory works and doesn't work and how illusory memories can be created. The book is intended for both scholars and the general public. The author is an investigative journalist who also has the personal experience of being accused falsely by his two adult daughters of sexual abuse. The book includes numerous references for further review. The author's interviews with dozens of people from all sides of this issue are included in this book. This book attempts to address the phenomenon of recovered memory in a thorough and comprehensive way, compelling the reader to consider very carefully the scientific evidence currently available about how human memory works, and, perhaps more importantly, how it doesn't work. It also very persuasively illustrates the various social, cultural, and individual factors identified by the author to have contributed to the immense power and belief in this phenomenon. The author does not deny the reality of child sexual abuse, but implores the reader to recognize that there is clear evidence available that memories of sexual abuse can, and are, being created and encouraged by misguided therapists convinced they are performing a real service. The author's hope is that both professionals and the public will seriously question andactively challenge the current concept of recovered memory so that future victims (individuals and their families) can be spared from this very real tragedy.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Pendergrast, an investigative journalist and author of the well-received For God, Country and Coca-Cola, here abandons any pretext of objectivity in an emotionally charged diatribe against the recovered memory movement. Accused of sexual abuse by one of his daughters on the basis of recovered memories, he describes his personal anguish and inability to find out any specifics of the allegations. Prime targets of his wrath are manipulative therapists who ``facilitate'' recovery of childhood memories of abuse, which they claim to be the cause for whatever mental illness their patients (usually, but not always, female) may suffer. Using hypnosis, psychotherapy, age regression, dream work, automatic writing, sodium Amytal, they guide troubled patients into remembering lurid scenes of sexual abuse (graphically described by Pendergrast), satanic rites and demonic possession. The unfortunate ``incest survivors'' usually cut off all contact with their families, becoming dependent on therapists for years. Pendergrast devotes four chapters to interviews he conducted, but without scientific control or scholarly basis, the narratives of therapists, survivors, the accused and retractors (those who have taken back their allegations) lack weight. Also detracting from his thesis are the repetitious accusations and titillating accounts of sexual abuse, which, after several hundred pages, seem obsessive and needlessly sensational. Pendergrast is a skilled journalist, but his book would have benefited greatly from substantive editing and a more scholarly approach to this controversial subject. (Feb.)
From The Critics
Reviewer: Karen M. Donahey, PhD (Northwestern University Medical School)
Description: This book examines the recovering memory controversy in comprehensive detail by exploring the social, cultural, and individual factors that lie behind the accusations. The author, an accused parent himself, argues that the lack of science underlying recovering memory therapy has produced the current scourge of pseudomemories and confabulations.
Purpose: The purpose of the book is to provide readers with the available scientific information on how memory works and doesn't work and how illusory memories can be created.
Audience: The book is intended for both scholars and the general public. The author is an investigative journalist who also has the personal experience of being accused falsely by his two adult daughters of sexual abuse.
Features: The book includes numerous references for further review. The author's interviews with dozens of people from all sides of this issue are included in this book.
Assessment: This book attempts to address the phenomenon of recovered memory in a thorough and comprehensive way, compelling the reader to consider very carefully the scientific evidence currently available about how human memory works, and, perhaps more importantly, how it doesn't work. It also very persuasively illustrates the various social, cultural, and individual factors identified by the author to have contributed to the immense power and belief in this phenomenon. The author does not deny the reality of child sexual abuse, but implores the reader to recognize that there is clear evidence available that memories of sexual abuse can, and are, being created and encouraged by misguided therapists convinced they are performing a real service. The author's hope is that both professionals and the public will seriously question and actively challenge the current concept of recovered memory so that future victims (individuals and their families) can be spared from this very real tragedy.
Library Journal
On the heels of On the Myth of Repressed Memory (LJ 8/94), Making Monsters (Scribner, 1994), and Return of the Furies (LJ 9/15/94), this latest entry on "false memory syndrome" is the most readable to date. The author is a professional journalist who has been accused of incest by his two adult daughters, adding an air of sensationalism to the book's promotion and content. But this is not just a personal story, Pendergrast (For God, Country & Coca Cola: The Unauthorized History of the Great American Soft Drink, LJ 3/15/93) interviews many subjects-the abused, the recanting formerly abused, alleged abusers, and their therapists-and relies on professionals in the field of clinical psychology for the scientific data. The author discusses why the "repressed memory" phenomenon is so prevalent today and also offers a short history of other psychological fads. Recommended for popular collections.-A. Arro Smith, San Marcos P.L., Tex.
Daniel Schacter
An impressive display of scholarship. Pendergrast demonstrates a laudable ability to lay out all sides of the argument.
Scientific American
Frank Pittman
In his impassioned, richly literate, and thoroughly researched book, Pendergrast tells an appalling, heart-breaking horror story of the forces of mental health gone berserk. This is a couragous, terrifying, and necessary book.
Psychology Today
Frederick Crews
Victims of Memory constitutes the most ambitious and comprehensive, as well as the most emotionally committed, of all the studies before us. Pendergrast devotes the most effort to analyzing the contemporary Zeitgeist in which the recovery movement thrives.
—The New York Review of Books
Psychological Reports
An even-handed treatment that presents all the different positions with empathy.

3 Stars from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780942679182
  • Publisher: Upper Access, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Edition description: Expanded
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 635
  • Product dimensions: 7.02 (w) x 9.51 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Pendergrast
Mark Pendergrast

Mark Pendergrast was born in Atlanta and is a graduate of Harvard University. A business journalist, he has published articles and reviews in a number of magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, the Sunday Times (London), and Financial Analyst.

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