In the 1990s a disturbing trend emerged in psychotherapy: patients began accusing their parents and other close relatives of sexual abuse, as a result of false “recovered memories” urged onto them by therapists practicing new methods of treatment. The subsequent loss of public confidence in psychotherapy was devastating to psychiatrist Paul R. McHugh, and with Try to Remember, he looks at what went wrong and describes what must be done to restore psychotherapy to a more honored and useful place in therapeutic treatment.
In this thought-provoking account, McHugh explains why trendy diagnoses and misguided treatments have repeatedly taken over psychotherapy. He recounts his participation in court battles that erupted over diagnoses of recovered memories and the frequent companion diagnoses of multiple-personality disorders. He also warns that diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder today may be perpetuating a similar misdirection, thus exacerbating the patients’ suffering. He argues that both the public and psychiatric professionals must raise their standards for psychotherapy, in order to ensure that the incorrect designation of memory as the root cause of disorders does not occur again. Psychotherapy, McHugh ultimately shows, is a valuable healing method—and at the very least an important adjunct treatment—to the numerous psychopharmaceuticals that flood the drug market today.
An urgent call to arms for patients and therapists alike, Try to Remember delineates the difference between good and bad psychiatry and challenges us to reconsider psychotherapy as the most effective way to heal troubled minds.
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About the Author
Paul R. McHugh is the University Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University. He formerly was director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and psychiatrist-in-chief at John Hopkins Hospital. He is the author or coauthor of five books and has published over 200 articles in journals and publications such as the Wall Street Journal, American Scholar, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Commentary.