Letter: 'Recovered' memories of sex abuse may be old nightmares

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The Independent Online
AS A victim of child abuse (which occurred first in 1932, when I was three) and as a friend of one of the parental victims in a notorious case in the USA, I have thought deeply about the problem of differentiating between true and false memories (Letters, 8 May).

I believe the therapists who have aroused the so-called 'recovered memories' have really uncovered the kind of bad dreams or dreaming fantasies which are common to many children. Real abuse does not really disappear from the conscious mind and resurfaces when the personality is strong enough to cope with the distress. This happened to me at the menopause, more than 50 years after the event, but there had always been a shadow of the memory.

The exposure of children to so much sexuality through the media may account for the increase in claims of recovered memory. I had no knowledge of the male anatomy or sexual behaviour, because children were protected from sexual knowledge at that time.

I do not believe any adult should be considered guilty of abusing a child unless there is clear physical evidence or as much testimony as would be required in any criminal prosecution. Fortunes are being claimed against parents by adult children in the US, probably only on the recovery of a forgotten nightmare which has been thrown up by intrusive therapy. We should not let this happen here.

Name withheld

Maidstone, Kent