[IWAR] MIND 'recovered' memory

From: Michael Wilson (MWILSON/0005514706at_private)
Date: Thu Jan 15 1998 - 11:05:26 PST

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                   Recovered memory techniques are bogus, report says
          Copyright ) 1998 Nando.net
          Copyright ) 1998 Scripps Howard
       LONDON (January 13, 1998 01:31 a.m. EST http://www.nando.net) -- British
       psychiatrists have waged a devastating attack on colleagues who use
       bogus techniques to plant false memories of sexual abuse in patients,
       according to an unpublished report which was delayed for more than a
       year because therapists feared its criticisms.
       A copy obtained by the Guardian shows that the inquiry commissioned by
       the Royal College of Psychiatrists has concluded that any memory
       recovered through hypnosis, dream interpretation or regression therapy
       is almost certainly false.
       It blames these "dangerous and powerful tools for persuasion" for
       spawning hundreds of false accusations against parents, destroying
       families and undermining the credibility of genuine abuse victims.
       Mistaken diagnoses have made patients more likely to feel suicidal and
       to engage in self-mutilation, the report says.
       Dr. Sydney Brandon, chairman of the report's working party, said the
       General Medical Council, the governing body for the British medical
       profession, should respond to complaints from patients by striking off
       psychiatrists who persist in using the techniques.
       He urged colleagues to review their notes and if necessary contact
       patients who believed their recovered memories.
       The report's key finding is that people do not bury memories of abuse.
       On the contrary, their problem is that they cannot forget.
       "Despite widespread clinical and popular belief that memories can be
       'blocked out' by the mind, no empirical evidence exists to support
       either repression or dissociation.
       "No evidence exists for the repression and recovery of verified,
       severely traumatic events, and their role in symptom formation has yet
       to be proved."
       False memories tend to date the abuse from an earlier age than genuine
       cases, often when the person was an infant.
       "The very inability to recall abuse is taken as a sign that abuse has
       occurred but is being 'denied' through the process of repression. The
       therapist and patient embark together upon the process of recovering
       hidden memories," the report says.
       Therapists are also criticized for using all-embracing symptom
       checklists -- such as headaches, celibacy, promiscuity and wearing baggy
       clothes -- that exclude few people.
       Entitled "Recovered Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Implications for
       Clinical Practice," the original report was submitted to the Royal
       College of Psychiatrists in the summer of 1996.
       Its findings appalled some members, who lobbied for it to be disowned. A
       compromise was agreed whereby watered-down guidelines were issued last
       October, but the report itself would no longer be published under the
       imprimatur of the College.
       Dr R.E. Kendall, the college president, confirmed that a revised version
       will appear as an article in the British Journal of Psychiatry in April,
       thus distancing the college from controversy.
       The report's four authors damn "memory enhancement techniques,"
       -- Drug induced abreactions "produce material which is often a product
       of fantasy."
       -- Hypnosis "increases the confidence with which the memory is held
       while reducing its reliability."
       -- Age regression "accounts are at times so fantastic that they are
       beyond belief and there is no evidence of (its) efficacy."
       -- Dream interpretations "usually reflect the training and personal
       convictions of the therapist".
       By RORY CARROLL, The Guardian

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