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

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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: 9.2 x 1 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,939,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on August 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Richard Jay Ofshe is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American sociologist and Professor Emeritus of Sociology at UC Berkeley, and a member of the advisory board of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation; Ethan Watters is a freelance writer. They have also written Therapy's Delusions: The Myth of the Unconscious and the Exploitation of Today's Walking Worried.

They wrote in the Preface to this 1994 book, "We have written this book as a bitter debate has raged over the practices of recovered memory therapy and the treatment of multiple personality disorder... Our goal is to prove beyond doubt that devastating mistakes are being made within certain therapy settings..." (Pg. ix) They added in the Introduction, "We believe there is now sufficient evidence... to show that a significant cadre of poorly-trained, overzealous, or ideologically driven psychotherapists have pursued a series of pseudoscientific notions that have ultimately damaged the patients that have come to them for help... the epidemic of repressed memories 'discovered' daily in therapy settings prove not that our society is exploding with the most vicious sort of child molesters and satanists, but rather than psychotherapists... can unintentionally spark and then build false beliefs in a patient's mind." (Pg. 5-6)

They assert, "While a therapist, conscious of the problems of memory retrieval, may be able to maintain the core veracity of a client's recall over the course of therapy, recovered memory retrieval... does not concern itself with this problem... Within the recovered memory world, the longer and more intense the process is, the better.
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24 of 33 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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35 of 49 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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