|| Eleanor Goldstein
|| Social Issues Resources Series, Inc. © 1992
1100 Holland Drive
Boca Raton, FL 33487
This core of this 335-page book is a collection of 20
first-person stories by parents who have been accused of sexual abuse by their
adult children. The author has worked with the False Memory Syndrome Foundation
(see Wakefield & Underwager, this issue, for a description of this group)
and the families represented here are taken from the hundreds who have contacted
The False Memory Syndrome is defined as "A condition in
which the person's personality and interpersonal relationships are oriented around a memory that
is objectively false but strongly believed in to the detriment of the welfare of
the person and others involved in the memory." The pain, distress,
bewilderment and devastation of the parents who have been accused comes through
clearly in these accounts. The parents are cut off from their adult children,
who accuse them of denying the abuse, and they search for a way to understand
what has happened as they hope that their children will eventually return.
After the parents' accounts, the book reports on therapists
who specialize in the uncovering of memories and contains in-depth interviews of
two therapists. This section is helpful in understanding of the type of therapy
process that leads to uncovering "memories" of abuse that never took
place. Memory retrieval techniques such as age regression, referral to survivors
groups and 12-step programs, and reading The Courage to Heal, are used and
concepts such as repression, body memories, and multiple personality disorder
are uncritically accepted by both therapists who also accept the reality of
The author critically examines The Courage to Heal and The
Courage to Heal Workbook and their role in the recovered memory phenomenon.
then discusses the recovery movement and the trend towards labeling all families
as dysfunctional and blaming parents for destroying the "inner child."
The last sections deal with the new age movement, the impact of feminism, and
allegations of satanic ritual abuse.
This book is intended for a popular audience and does not
contain scientific studies and research. However, it provides a compelling
picture of the effect of allegations of recovered memories on the families of
those making the allegations. The 20 first-person accounts vary greatly in
style — Ms. Goldstein has let the families tell the stories in their own words,
which adds to the impact of the book.
The book facilitates understanding of what is happening in
our society today that leads large numbers of adult children to suddenly accuse
their families of horrendous abuse. The book should be read by anyone who
underestimates the scope and impact of the therapy that results in confabulated
memories of childhood sexual abuse.
Reviewed by Hollida Wakefield, Institute for Psychological
Therapies, Northfield, Minnesota.