This book follows from a paper that Ann Scott wrote in 1988, in 'Feminist Review' called 'Feminism and the seductiveness of the real event'. That paper was written in the context of the then very intense recovered memory debate that was taking place in America and the UK, a debate related to the discussion around recovered memories of child sexual abuse, but not focused only on that. Scott's position was (back in 1988), as it is in this book, refreshingly thoughtful, providing a much needed complex, nuanced middle ground, far away from the heated, black and white extremes that have tended to dominate the debate.
Scott carefully examines the concept of memory from a psychoanalytic standpoint. The particular psychoanalytic standpoint she adopts is much removed from a heavy insistence on traumatizing moments directly following from a 'real' event. Indeed, her whole point in the book centers around these questions: what constitutes a real event? Is fantasy and thought any less real than a 'flesh and blood' abusive moment? Do fantasy and thought not have psychic (and very 'material') consequences, too? She argues against Jeffrey Masson's position, a position which shows a clear misunderstanding of Freudian theory, of the interweaving of fantasy and reality which is at the core of psychoanalysis. Unfortunately Masson's position has proved to be highly influential in certain feminist circles, and his very problematic legacy still lives on, leading to ludicrous arguments about how Freud 'betrayed' women by covering up child abuse. If anything, psychoanalysis has been at the forefront of an interest in the subjective experience of the victim during and after abuse, taking into account not only what actually happened, judged from an outsider's point of view, but what the event or events signified and meant (and still mean) for the victim in question.
Scott closely explores all these difficult and complex issues, and her book is thought-provoking and interesting. My only complaint is her frequent use of other writers' contributions- her book tends to be, at times, too reference-heavy for my own taste. But still, I generally liked it & highly recommend it.