Letter: Memories of sexual abuse can be recovered without hypnosis

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The Independent Online
I WOULD be delighted if I thought that Marjorie Orr's enterprise, Accuracy About Abuse, would aim at just that - 'accuracy'. If it does, nobody will be more pleased than the members of the False Memory Syndrome (FMS) movement. That, indeed, is all we ask. We all know that child abuse exists, that it is an abhorrent and appallingly damaging aspect of human behaviour. We recognise and are concerned about the possibility of real abusers taking cover under the FMS banner. But false accusations spread their own particular kind of poison.

I am a mother accused of sexual abuse with 'occult' involvement by my son. Unlike some others in similar situations, he cannot remember any details. He freely admits that he is trying to find evidence - 'memories' - of this abuse with the help of therapy. He has isolated himself from all those who refuse to 'validate' his belief in my guilt: his three siblings, his old friends, his previous rector, his present pastor, our entire extended family, and all our friends. I am said to be 'in denial'.

I have talked to one of the growing band of 'retractors' - a courageous woman who has admitted that her allegations were false, that they were induced, perhaps even unwittingly, by a method of regression therapy which takes insufficient account of the suggestibility of a vulnerable mind. Whatever happened to the counselling principle 'do no harm'?

Helen Slade