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

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The Independent Online
IT IS in the nature of the transference that things are transferred from one psyche to another. People have confessed in the past to almost anything another person believed them to have been guilty of. Transference occurs between prisoner and interrogator, victim and torturer - any intense 'two', with one in the more powerful position. Witches were sure they had kissed the Devil's bum, flown through the air, been penetrated, etc.

False memory has many causes. It is related to hysteria, which is itself related to blocked-off feeling, which can be caused by incest but also by its exact opposite: absence and neglect. Girls need to be appreciated by their fathers. If he was absent in a healthy emotional way, he may be present in the psyche in an unhealthy sexual way. Fantasies of violation can also be caused by emotional hunger in either parent, leaving an obscure image of violation by a gross and archaic force.

The psyche is still a vast and unknown terrain. What is essential is humility and an utter absence of dogma.

Julian David

Jungian analyst

Buckfastleigh, Devon