Child Sexual Abuse and False Memory Syndrome

Child Sexual Abuse and False Memory Syndrome

Child Sexual Abuse and False Memory Syndrome

Child Sexual Abuse and False Memory Syndrome


Is repressed memory fact or fiction? What role should therapists play in determining the truth? What if any, weight should these "memories" be given when prosecuting claims of child sexual abuse? Noted experts seek answers that could affect thousands of lives.

Tabloid talk shows and the courts are overflowing with adults alleging sexual and other abuses they endured as children. Parents have been hauled into court, convicted, and jailed over their children's claims of abuse, many of which have been based upon "memories" that have surfaced after therapists employed dubious techniques and suggestive "therapies". In some cases, the abuse really did occur. Alarmingly, in other cases, it did not.

Noted psychologist and author Robert A. Baker states that experienced and responsible therapists vehemently disagree about the nature, source, and reliability of these "memories". In Child Sexual Abuse and False Memory Syndrome doctors, therapists, victims, researchers, and others search for answers in seven major areas: memory and its recovery, childhood trauma, repression and amnesia, hypnosis, suggestibility, professional problems and ethical issues, as well as needed research and legal implications.


One of the more serious—if not the most serious—social psychological problems of our time is that of child sexual molestation and abuse. Nearly three million allegedly abused or neglected children were turned in to social-service agencies in 1993 according to the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse. Although there is good reason to question exactly how many of these charges are valid, undoubtedly, too many of them are factually based and, even if only a few children are neglected and abused, it is still too many! According to Frank Putnam, M.D., senior clinical investigator at the National Institute of Mental Health's Developmental Psychology Laboratory, recent research shows sexual molestation and abuse has powerful and far‐ reaching deleterious effects on the growing child: first, while four times as many girls are sexually abused the abuse of young boys is increasing; abused young children also have many more physical complaints, e.g., headaches, stomachaches, anxieties, nightmares, bedwetting, and withdrawal symptoms than the nonabused; in the mid-childhood range the abused show more somatic symptoms, poor school performance, dissociative behavior, lack of emotional control, attention disorders, and sexual misbehavior; next, sexually abused teenagers are also more likely to be sexually active, delinquent, and suicidal; and, finally, children sexually penetrated and abused by fathers and father figures are considerably more emotionally and behaviorally disturbed than the nonabused.

Since the issue of childhood sexual molestation and abuse is extraordinarily complex, multifaceted, and so emotion-arousing, any and all . . .

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