Letter: It may be abusers who suffer from amnesia

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Indy Lifestyle Online
In Your article, "'Recovered memory' therapists backed by survey" (6 April), the testimony of patients recollecting (and corroborating) childhood abuse was dismissed as "third party hearsay evidence" by a spokesman of the British False Memory Society. I have had contact with a considerable number of adult children of members of the society. Their parents claim they were brainwashed by malpractising therapists, yet all the "children" claim full responsibility for their memories, even when these emerged years later. All insist they were not coerced by therapists. They have been dismayed, often desperate, about the widespread acceptance almost without question of their parents' "third party hearsay evidence" of their happy, contented childhoods. In many cases this appears to be the real false memory.

Scapegoating the professional is a way of undermining the only support that many children or adults healing from abuse have. A recent paper in the Journal of Psychiatry & Law concludes "amnesia for childhood sexual abuse is a robust finding across studies using very different samples and methods of assessment ... Studies addressing the accuracy of recovered memories show that recovered memories are no more or less accurate than continuous memories for abuse."

No one ever doubted that memory is fallible, but the sweeping protestations of the BFMS are beginning to sound hollow.

Marjorie Orr

Accuracy about Abuse

London NW3

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