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Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, And Sexual Hysteria Paperback – September 24, 1996

21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is the most thoroughgoing and powerful critique to date of the use of recovered memories in psychotherapy. Many retrieved memories of childhood sexual abuse, the authors argue, are fabrications generated in a coercive, highly charged atmosphere using questionable therapeutic techniques such as hypnosis, dream analysis, artwork and the constant revisiting and rewriting of vague early memories. Ofshe, a social psychology professor at UC Berkeley and a Pulitzer-winning reporter, and freelance writer Watters extend their analysis to include alleged sufferers of multiple-personality disorder and people who claim to have been abused or tortured by satanic cults that engage in sacrificial murder and rape. The authors name names, attacking therapists, experts and writers, and they cover such well-publicized cases involving recovered memories as the 1990 San Francisco murder trial that convicted George Franklin on the basis of his daughter Eileen Lipsker's accusation that he had killed her childhood friend Susan Nasson 20 years earlier. This report is certain to escalate a heated public debate.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

If you haven't heard of false memory syndrome and the controversy it engenders, you haven't seen a talk show recently. In the last decade, there has been a veritable explosion of cases in which (mostly) women in therapy remember being sexually abused by their parents. In many instances, the memories escalate, and the patients eventually exhibit symptoms of multiple personality disorder or recall being victims of satanic cults. Ofshe, a social psychologist, and Watters, a Mother Jones writer, examine this psychological phenomenon and offer two explanations for its current prevalence: either recovered-memory therapists have achieved a breakthrough in the understanding of the human mind, in which case much that is fundamental about our understanding of psychology will need to be reinterpreted, or the practice of uncovering repressed memories has been built into a pseudoscience by therapists who have created "an Alice-in-Wonderland world in which opinion, metaphor, and ideological preference substitute for objective evidence." Firmly supporting the latter view, the authors offer a thoughtfully written, restrained (even a bit dry), and generally persuasive examination of what false memory syndrome reveals about society as well as ourselves. Ilene Cooper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1St Edition edition (September 24, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520205839
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520205833
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,231,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
My review can't do this book justice. You'd do best to simply buy it and read Ofshe/Watter's case for yourself. This book is not an attack on the terrible crime of sexual abuse, but on the methodology used to verify the accuracy of SOME of these claims -- generally, those resulting from repressed memory restoration.
The authors offer actual evidence to show how: 1. Even normal memories are highly unreliable and malleable. 2. Therapists lead the patient, imposing their own sexual abuse storyline over the patient's feelings and experiences. 3. There is no proven mechanism by how, specifically, sexual abuse trauma would be forgotten -- and not even leave a gap! -- while other extreme trauma (including violence) would be remembered. 4. Many therapists have no concrete evidence for the veracity of their claims, and leaders in the movement actively ignore evidence contrary to their "theories" and therapies. ("If I had to wait for science to catch up, there'd be no way I could practice this!" asserts one movement leader.) 5. Many people who go through this therapy are in worse shape than they were before therapy.
This book is not speculative. Instead, it deals concretely with the claims of memory restoration therapists, evaluates their methodology and mindset and therepeutic practices, and gives credit where it is due, if necessary. Ofshe and Watters have come to see much of this sort of therapy as destructive and dishonest, rather than as validated through standard scientific practice -- possibly a response to the social devaluation of women.
Note again that the authors' point is not to dis-empower women who have been honestly victimized.
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37 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
What is called "psychotherapy" has been under fire these days, at long last. "Disorders" such as "Multiple Personality Disorder" and its variations have been questioned even by the profession who created them; the tendency, from the movements of the '60s, I suppose, to make victims of those who claim that status, based not on evidence but on "recovered memories" and one of its more devestating, if not comical manifestions "Satanic Ritual Abuse" (SRA) have been challenged. This book offers a fine, well-researched challenge.
The victimology phenomenon has been a media gold mine. Someone finds that--usually she--had been sexually abused by dad, bro', or Uncle Bert--something she found out with the "help" of her "therapist"--and goes to the TV news. The mere abuse grows as does the celebrity and the income of the alleged victim, into unspeakable horrors. But, for something so uncanny and bizarre, for shame, no evidence is available! That doesn't impede overzealous prosecutors and courts from filling yet another jail cell indefinitely.
I guess what amazes me is that some people don't see through the rubbish that has ruined families, sent countless innocent people to jail terms, and sent some overzealous police (who should be locked up!) on wild goose chases, wasting the public's--yes YOUR--money to do so.
This book exposes much of that, finally.
It does have its amusing portions, like the revelation that the author of "Michelle Remembers" and the alleged victim whose story is the content of the book, good Christians, I'm sure, left their spouses after doing the "research" that led to the book and lived happily ever after.
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26 of 35 people found the following review helpful By "slwheelock" on July 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book made me think about the power of therapy and the power of therapists. While Ofshe focuses the book on repressed memory and multiple personality disorder (MPD), he makes a clear argument about the many possible negative effects on clients/patients who enage in therapy with unqualified clinicians (or those who have lost sight of the reality & practice of ethical therapy, Dr. B. Braun). I do not believe everything that the authors have written in this book; however, their attempt to scrutinize and understand a very controversial phenomenon is commendable. They obviously did extensive research and present a good argument, but their biases are clear. There are many good reasons to read this book... to understand biases of authors, clinicians, the controversy of repressed memory and MPD, and the possible negative consequences of working with unqualified therapists. Our society stereotypes and belittles people with mental illnesses, as well as the many people who treat them. Yet, there are many successes found in the field of psychotherapy. Just don't look to this book for a positive respresentation of psychology professionals. This book highlights a current controversy in the mental health world. While it may appear to attempt to demean all therapy, don't let it. Read this book as critically as Ofshe wrote it and remember it is NOT about all therapy, therapists, or mental health professionals. And take note: empower yourself if you are a client and if you are a therapist, remember your ultimate responsibility is to your clients' well-being and mental health -- 1st rule: Do No Harm.
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