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

4.0 out of 5 stars 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 alternate Paperback edition.

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 alternate Paperback edition.

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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: #1,799,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is about the recovered memories movement of the late 80s and 90s, and was written in the 90s. It exposes the amazing self-delusion of thousands if not millions of people who were involved in or just believed the several varieties of this movement, such as the belief that a person was raised from birth in a satanic cult which involved killing and eating scores of children, or that a large section of the public have multiple personality disorder, or that thousands of people have been or are currently being repeatedly abducted and experimented on by space aliens.

I personally find the authors' honestly and rationality a relief from what is happening in America
today, but reading it would probably not affect the many people who insist that such delusions
as the book describes are true, or that the earth was created in 6 days.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The best book, bar none, that I have read on this subject. Just excellent. The writing is stellar, and the information well documented. Obviously, the subject rubs some folks the wrong way, but this book makes a great case. Highly recommended.
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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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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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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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