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My Lie: A True Story of False Memory Hardcover – September 14, 2010

3.6 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"In this terrifying, haunting, and controversial memoir, award-winning journalist Meredith Maran delves into the fascinating subject of the recovered memory movement.... Maran's not just shockingly honest, she's also funny. Her refusal to whitewash her own behavior, her fierce ability to expose all sides of the issue (she doesn't deny that horrific abuse does occur and should be punished), and her compassion for the abused as well as those still falsely imprisoned as abusers opens up a dialogue about memory, belief, and past- and present-day culture that is as riveting as it is important." (Boston Globe, September 21, 2010)

"Maran's story is so tension-filled that I want to keep some of the twists out of this review, allowing readers of this remarkable book to discover them apart from me." (San Francisco Chronicle, September 19, 2010)


Only a writer as fierce and incisive as Meredith Maran could have written a book as intimate, dark, bracing and revelatory as My Lie.
MICHAEL CHABON, author of Manhood for Amateurs; and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Meredith Maran is a wonderful journalist and storyteller, profoundly honest, direct, witty, savvy and compassionate.
ANNE LAMOTT, author of Grace (Eventually) and Bird By Bird

My Lie is the brave and riveting "inside story" of the most devastating mental health controversy of the century. I couldn't put it down.
ELIZABETH F. LOFTUS, PHD, co-author of Witness for the Defense and The Myth of Repressed Memory

To admit sin is hard. To own a grave sin committed against a loved one is more difficult still. To be able to write about it with honesty and grace is extraordinary. My Lie by Meredith Maran tells a story no reader will—or should—forget.
KATHRYN HARRISON, author of The Kiss and The Mother Knot

Meredith Maran is fearless, and My Lie is a shockingly honest, stunningly nuanced book. Every parent, and everyone who has a parent, should read this searing father-daughter story.
AYELET WALDMAN, author of Bad Mother and Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

"This marvelous, searing book held me in its thrall from the moment I read the Prologue, and never let go. Meredith Maran has written a page-turner of a memoir, at once brave and heartbreaking. Who among us hasn't questioned her own memory? In navigating her family history, Maran becomes a detective, and MY LIE reads like a mystery all the more suspenseful because the writer has taken great care to tell the truth."
DANI SHAPIRO, author of Devotion: A Memoir


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470502142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470502143
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,061,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sheri J. Storm on January 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Been here. Did this myself - I didn't write a book, but fell in with a bad therapist who eventually induced MPD and false memories within me, among many other of his patients. By the time I discovered my mental illness was created within therapy and had to face my trusted doctor's betrayal of trust, I became cemented in shock and despair. I was ashamed too. There weren't any books out to debunk this thing when I became ill. I am grateful that more and more are surfacing now though. I hope you found healing in your writing Meredith - as well as comfort in the knowledge you're helping others. Thank you.
Post Script. Please be aware that anon's marketing campaign remains grossly inaccurate.
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Format: Hardcover
I tried to find this book in the library system here in Mass. but was unable to do so. And so I bought it. I shall donate it to my local library. It is a very informative book and well worth reading.
The book covers the problem of Recovered Memory Therapy from the perspective of the client of a therapist or therapists. It tells about Ms. Maran's journey into RMT and the fall out of her relationships with her family. Her father took the brunt of her "recovered memories." One of the worst things you can do to a parent, especially a father, is to accuse him of sexual abuse. They have no defence. All they can do is deny it but then with that type of therapy they get hit with "your in denial." A no win situation.
Fortunately Ms. Maran started to question her "memories" and realized what she had done. She could have left it there but went the full nine yards with this book. An apology to her father. And he accepted her apology.
I am biased against RMT. My daughter got into it and has cut off her entire famly for the last twenty years. I know what she "remembers" is not true but she was and is suggestible and trusting. I pray some day she and the other misguided clients of less than reputable therapists will come home to their families. My daughter will always be welcome.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
.......There are many very good and lengthy reviews of the book. After reading the book I have some general impressions. I am impressed with the author's honesty and courage in telling her story of being blown to and fro by the winds of our culture. I am also surprised by the emotional "neediness" that leads her on the paths she chooses (though I appreciate her sharing that). Clearly the winds of culture and the emotional needs are two undercurrents that feed hysteria. I am saddened by the hurt and pain the untrue recollections of abuse heap on the accused, the accuser and the collateral damage done to all those who are forced to witness the carnage. Finally I understand her focus on the hysteria not being limited to a particular political orientation. The search and elimination of witches, attacks by our enemies that require inordinate response, the search and eradication of communists or the search and destroy mission against those accused of sexual child abuse (innocent or guilty) all had a hysteria in common. Hysteria can happen to the religious, avowed atheists, conservatives or liberals. All of us are vulnerable. Reason and reflection are our only defense..
....... The title of the book is the opposite of the typical expression of the time when "recovered memories" of child sexual abuse were all the "rage" in the 1980's and 1990's. The accuser, when challenged by those knowledgeable of the actual family, would say indignantly that this is "My Truth" as if facts took a back seat to the importance of the accusation. Her perspective changed and now she realizes it was truly "My Lie".
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Format: Hardcover
I can't remember the last time I stayed up far too late into the night for a book of non-fiction, but My Lie had me doing just that. From the title, I expected an intimate tell-all memoir, and I did get that. But I found it a surprisingly - and refreshingly - measured and balanced one. Part of what made this revelatory story so compelling was the mix of personal story with societal examination. Yes, there are children who were abused. But there are also families that were torn apart by "memories" that never actually happened. Meredith Maran's intimate telling of her own personal story, mixed with considerable discussion of the science of the brain and press clips from sources including Time Magazine, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, puts the issue of "recovered memory" into a context that made me think, and want to know that which isn't, unfortunately, always knowable.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a short book, but it raises and deals so inadequately with so many issues that a thorough review would be almost as long as the book itself! Anyone seeking balance and to fill in the gaps might want to check out: "Trauma and Recovery" by Judith Harman; "Betrayal Trauma Theory" by Jennifer Freyd; sections of "Invisible Heroes" by Belleruth Naparstek; the website of the Leadership Council; the website of Jim Hopper, which provides links to and abstracts of many scholarly articles on recovered memory; the Recovered Memory Corroboration Project; the newest edition of "Courage to Heal", which summarizes some recent research; and "Recovered Memory and the Daubert Criteria: Recovered Memory as Professionally Tested, Peer Reviewed and Accepted in the Relevant Scientific Community". This article by Constance Dalenberg clearly lays out the middle ground, ignored by Maran, where the extensive evidence for traumatic amnesia and accurate recovered memory is acknowledged, as well as the existence of false memories. (If you know of other resources, I'd love to hear about them.) [March 2015: Bessel van der Kolk's "The Body Keeps the Score" gives a readable and helpful account of the growing body of scientific research into the ways trauma affects the brain and the differences between traumatic and normal memory.]
Although "My Lie" seems on casual reading to be written with clarity, I found it to be tremendously tangled. Meredith Maran describes a painful journey from a need for certainty (specifically, that her father sexually abused her) to a kind of resolution in exploring and accepting uncertainty and complexity in life. But I don't think she had got there at the time of writing.
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