Suggestions of Abuse Paperback – 27 Apr 2009
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About the Author
Michael Yapko, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, author, and internationally recognized expert on the subjects of treating major depression, brief forms of psychotherapy, and the clinical applications of hypnosis in psychotherapy and behavioral medicine. He has written ten books as sole author, of which three were trade books with major publishers (Breaking the Patterns of Depression (Random House/Doubleday, now in its eleventh printing), Hand-Me-Down Blues: How to Stop Depression from Spreading in Families (St. Martin’s), and Suggestions of Abuse: True and False Memories of Childhood Sexual Trauma (Simon & Schuster)), and three books as sole editor, dozens of articles and chapters in books, and the section on “Treating Depression,” for the Encyclopedia Britannica Medical and Health Annual. Hand-Me-Down Blues was the first book to address how depression affects families. Suggestions of Abuse was the first on the subject of the unreliable nature of “recovered memories.” He was recently given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society of Hypnosis, a professional organization that represents physician and psychologist researchers in over 30 countries.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Dr. Micheal Yapko is a clinical therapist and expert in the use of hypnosis to treat depression (he has written extensively on the subject). He is positioned as the perfect author to present a controversial (for some) disparagement of "repressed memory". The book carefully catalogs childhood sexual abuse memories for the reader as real or false, remembered all along or suddenly remembered. Then he focuses the book on methodically examining how memories, using techniques associated with "recovered memory therapy", may be created. The expectations and bias of the therapist is seen as important contributing factor to those who recall "false memories" (now classified as pseudo memories by the American Psychological Association). The therapist can implicitly, explicitly, overtly or covertly pose questions and images that assist the client in creating images that are nurtured into memories. The client's exposure to a casual conversation, media presentations or reading material with sexually explicit themes may suggest images and activities that can be nurtured into horrid pseudo memories.
A survey of more than at thousand professional colleagues revealed an amazing ignorance on a wide variety of pertinent factors relating to the creation of false memories. Shockingly counselors surveyed were unaware of the malleability of memory, they held erroneous views about hypnosis, repression and working memory and most admitted top not verifying whether memories were a genuine experience at all. The impression, this reviewer has after reading the book, was that the therapists may actually not realize that they could be creating memories with covert and implicit suggestive questions and comments.
Dr. Yapko is an expert in hypnosis and proponent of using this skill to help clients with depression but he fully recognizes that hypnosis may make an already vulnerable client even more "suggestible" and with intentional or unintentional suggestive statements and questions the creation of "false memories" would be much more likely. Even if he still thinks some articulated "repressed memories" (now called disociative amnesia) may be real but recognizes that many of the memories may not be historically correct and that the consequences (legal, emotional and vocational) can be catastrophic for the accused (as well as the accuser). The book, once he fully describes how suggestive therapy and writing works, reveals that practicing therapists, law enforcement interrogations and authors of "Self Help Therapy Books" have unquestionably nurtured false memories rather than uncovered actual "repressed memories" as believed. In 1994 this book documents a practicing therapist, who uses hypnotism and believes in repressed memories, who clearly has integrity and courage.
The Yapko shares (on pg 17) "I have done therapy with accusers and the accused, spouses and siblings, friends and relatives...The stories people shared with me were intensely painful ones, of broken families, shattered lives, and overwhelming despair. They led me to write this book., one that I hope will provide both valuable information and support for people caught up in truly agonizing circumstances."
In Chapters 9 & 10 the encouragement to maintain communication and to keep the communication ongoing and as positive as possible is a good one. The caveat missing is that the accused must make sure they stay out of jail and retain their vocation. Sometimes the accusations must be denied publicly and recognized as not historically true in order to evade incarceration, loss of license or termination. It is so unfortunate that the child has made such a choice but jail and depletion of resources on legal appeals will not make things "happy" or "healed". I wish that this was recognized by the author. Many people, in seeking to be keep the lines of communication open who decide to remain neutral, become vulnerable to termination, prosecution and incarceration. It does happen in emotional and easy to win over jury cases like these.
The author also spends a considerable amount of time on persuading the accused and family members to get "good counseling". Given what I have learned from reading a number of books in this genre (over a dozen now) and having experienced being falsely accused I must say such advice seems rather self serving. My wife and I personally experienced being falsely accused (though our other 5 adult children and my sister were "recruited" and saw immediately through it all and so declined to get the suggested "counseling" or see the "therapist". We now think the suggestion of "counseling" to help some family members "recover repressed memories" may have been to develop "corroborating accounts" using this fraudulent and suggestive therapy. So given the experience and the many books we have read we have now concluded a counselor is the last person we want to see. No way to know if any counselor is truthful when he or she says "oh I would never plant a memory". All of us have learned the hard way. We may at some point have to go to a lawyer because reputations have been slandered and defamed with false information. That profession (legal) is not mentioned and I can not help but wonder why. I realize this is a personal reaction so I did not allow this to mitigate the rating of this book.
An updated "Suggestions of Abuse" should be required reading for any aspiring "Counselor" or "Therapist". It lays out how careful one must be in working with vulnerable and highly suggestible clients (which is only magnified with medications today). The book does a great job laying out how "false memories" can be inadvertently created using poor counseling techniques and suggestive material (reading, videos etc) that may or may not be provided by a therapist.
Since this book was written "repressed memories" have been repeatedly debunked in peer reviewed academic studies. In addition "Rosanne Barre" who had just come out with repressed accusation (pointed out in the book) has publicly retracted 20 years later. A movie with repressed memories and multiple personalities was still depicted as "true" (Sybil was very popular in the 1980's) has been found to be a complete fake ("Sybil Exposed" by Debbie Nathan). The therapist had a huge role in helping the client perpetrate the fake. Therapist induced "illness" has been increasingly recognized as a problem since 1992. I am sure an update is needed and I am ALSO sure this book should be required reading for every counselor or therapist who plans to practice.