Hypnosis False memories

Psychiatrist and patient

In the early days of television there was a TV program titled, "Truth or Consequences." A question was asked and if the contestant correctly answered the question, he or she then won a prize. If the answer was incorrect, the participant got a consequence. Over the past 30 years Recovered Memory Therapy has been playing a dangerous game of "Truth or Consequence." The consequence of false memory is a lot of pain for the client, her family and others.

Hypnotherapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, clergy and other therapists should beware of Recovered Memory Therapy because of the danger of False Memory Syndrome. A few years ago, a new therapy system referred to as "Recovered Memory Therapy" caught on with many professional therapists. In this group, I do not include those who use hypnosis and other counseling techniques to discover past history that might contribute to a present day problem and use it to help the person live better today. I do not include those therapists who work with individuals who have always remembered that they were sexually abused and are working in the here and now to overcome any problems initiated by that abuse.

I am speaking of those therapists who plant false memories and encourage their clients to confront, hate, break with and sue parents for something that may or may not have happened years ago. These therapists generally believe that just about any adult problem is caused by sexual abuse and this is especially true of women. They assume that repressed memories of traumatic childhood sexual abuse are the main causes of eating disorders, relationship problems, depression, sexual problems, headaches, sleep disorders, phobias, anger, low self-esteem, gagging, etc. These therapists use hypnosis, guided imagery, progressive relaxation, automatic writing, bodywork, dream work, art therapy, and group therapy to uncover repressed memories. When used properly, these techniques are very helpful tools of counseling. But when used improperly, they produce false memories that are enormously destructive. Because Recovered Memory Therapy is often based on bad assumptions the result is bad therapy.

From personal counseling sessions, books and other materials which I have read, a pattern tends to occur with striking frequency. These sessions began with a client coming to the therapist with a presenting problem other than sexual abuse. Regardless of the presenting problem, the therapist assumes the cause is childhood sexual abuse. The abuser is usually assumed to be the father and/or perhaps the grandfather, and may also include the mother and grandmother as well as others.

With this motivation, the therapist's next step is to convince the client that she was abused whether she can remember abuse or not. If the client says she was not abused, the therapist will often respond that the denial is another proof of her childhood sexual abuse. The client is told that only by believing in the sexual abuse and recovering memories of abuse can she be healed. Whether the client accepts the diagnosis or continues to deny, they are often encouraged to read one of the so-called survivor's books such as The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis. Once the client is convinced that her problems can be cured by remembering childhood sexual abuse, the therapist uses the techniques described above to help the client uncover repressed memories. The consequences can be devastating.

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Q&A

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What is Hypnosis and how False Memories were created by the Person who is the subject ? | Yahoo Answers

Hypnosis is sometimes called "guided imagination". Essentially, the subject is using their imagination to create an internal representation of the world. This internal representation is susceptible to suggestion from external influences (e.g. a psychotherapist) in a similar way to how your dream might change to incorporate the noise of an alarm clock. This happens because your mind attempts to maintain its representation even when you are being disturbed by someone or something.
There's lots of work by Elizabeth Loftus on this, much of it accessible on the web.

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