Abused by Therapy debunks an enduring myth dating back to Freud, that certain conditions are nearly always caused by childhood trauma. Therapists believing this will use recovered memory therapy to search for this hidden cause behind current problems. They may find it - but what exactly are they finding? When their clients recover memories of horrifying trauma, often involving sexual abuse by their parents, does this reveal what really happened, or does it merely reflect the therapist's assumptions?
This unique book gives an inside view of the process by which people are persuaded to rewrite their past history, so that loving parents become seen as abusers who must be rejected. The new memories may be completely false, yet they can shatter the lives of all concerned: not just the clients and their accused families, but also the therapists themselves, who become trapped into upholding increasingly implausible and distressing beliefs. An international campaign is now promoting the view that dissociative disorders, such as multiple personality disorder, are caused by severe early trauma. It is argued that there is no scientific basis for this claim, and that the recommended treatment has not been shown to confer any benefits that outweigh its heavy cost.
Katharine Mair is a clinical psychologist who noticed that false memories of childhood could emerge during some types of psychotherapy. She is the author of The Myth of Therapist Expertise, contributed a chapter to the Open University Press book Psychotherapy and its Discontent, and has published papers in academic journals. Katharine is now retired and lives in Cornwall.