LETTER : False memory claims: a dangerous diversion

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Mr Allen Esterson Sir: The statement in your leading article relating to false memories that Freud was well aware of the dangers of suggestion is not borne out by the facts.

From In the mid-1890s, in the words of a leading Freud historian, he "was guiltyof suggesting the possibility of incest" to patients he claimed to have been sexually abused in early childhood.

Although he retracted most of these claims, it was not because he recognised the dangers of persuasive techniques in psychotherapy. A decade later he wrote to Carl Jung, in relation to a six-year-old girl: One hopes that present-day psychotherapists do not take Freud as a model.

Yours faithfully, ALLEN ESTERSON London, W6

15 January As a rule children provide little information but confirm what we have guessed when we tell them.