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on 2 December 2013
I thought that with Richard McNally’s 2003 book, Remembering Trauma, the memory wars had been settled in favour of sceptics who consider that false memories are the usual product of recovered memory therapy (RMT) which claims that hitherto unremembered childhood trauma can be discovered mainly by therapeutic methods. The sceptics include scientists who research psychological processes whereas believers in RMT are mostly psychotherapists, their clients and support groups/organisations. However, scientific conclusions do not deter people committed to belief in repression and dissociation as defence mechanisms that seal off childhood trauma from conscious awareness. The memory wars still continue, hence this 2013 book by a clinical psychologist. Katharine Mair covers the subject readably and in depth. She discusses child abuse and highlights the dangers of RMT. There is now a growing interest in dissociation as the mechanism for deep freezing traumatic memories of child abuse and most of Mrs Mair’s book addresses this development. Recent years have seen a dramatic rise in diagnoses of multiple personality now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and, by using such techniques as hypnosis, memories of terrible experiences emerge in some DID clients. When memories of past lives, alien abduction or birth trauma are produced by these methods they are rightly treated with scepticism but when following similar paths leads to recollections of child abuse, often extreme ritual, satanic and sadistic abuse, then true believers switch off their critical faculties and take a road that often ends in tragedy. Mrs Mair’s book needs to be taken seriously and not ignored or dismissed by organisations and individuals that include the excavation of supposed repressed and/or dissociated memories in their treatment plans. However, this particular therapy fad is so alluring to those who promote it that in spite of Ray Aldridge-Morris’s Multiple Personality: An Exercise in Deception (1991) it has continued to grow. Mrs Mair describes a formidable range of organised support for it and this makes it difficult to oppose. However, the fundamental flaws of therapies based on repression/dissociation need to be continually exposed and their demise hastened. Her well informed book is a significant contribution in that direction but is also helpful in suggesting better approaches to human distress.
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on 22 May 2016
First do no harm is the medical aphorism underpinning this book by a (retired) professional in the field. It is a cogent comprehensive review of the history and current status of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse and their treatment by memory recovery. The author makes a powerful case for cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) focussing on how the mindset of a person with DID affects their day-to-day functioning and the practicalities of changing it rather than memory recovery therapy which is labour-intensive and so lengthy that its success rate is very hard to quantify. More importantly, it can do more harm than good leaving patients estranged from their families (and I would say from their true selves) and unable to function as mature adults - as the case histories in this book and the tragic case of Carol Felstead (see Justice for Carol by Dr Kevin Felstead and Richard Felstead) show. I believe that, in the unlikely event of a new drug with this sort of therapeutic record making it through drug trials to general licence, it would either have been withdrawn immediately or its use restricted to a limited number of specialists in the field. By contrast CBT is widely available, of definable duration, less expensive, more readily subject to external audit - and, to my knowledge, the worst that can be said of it is that it doesn't always work.
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on 18 September 2014
How does the author justify publishing a 'father's story' (the introduction on page ix) without consulting me, the ex-wife of Peter and the mother of Janet. Surely Katherine Mair needed a balanced view of the family situation. I am the mother of the abused child who I know from my own experiences has always spoken the truth. Peter omitted to explain that his wife was also sexually abused by her father, Janet's grandfather. This book is supposed to help people who are in these traumatised circumstances, what else is in the book that is not factual. How can this be helpful if the author doesn't print the truth.
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on 1 February 2014
Katharine Mair is very assured in developing a compelling case that highlights the widespread although subliminal misuse of Therapy and tackles this highly complex subject with clarity, vigour and balance.

As a lay person I found Abused by Therapy both a fascinating and a disturbing read. The way the therapist and patient symbiosis develops, where both end up depending heavily on the other for sustenance is fascinating; the lengths each will go in finessing the facts, very disturbing.

'Abuse' is one of those subjective tag words that Humpty Dumpty declared can mean whatever you want it to mean. For one person being shouted at aggressively is abuse, for someone more resilient having life threatening beatings would constitute an abuse and where a good aggressive shouting a pleasant relief.
Along this spectrum of definition sexual abuse holds the pre-eminent position, whether this is because it is a more traumatic abuse than being viciously flogged or because it satisfies a more prurient interest is a mute point. However a cursory reading of Freud’s personality background suggests this prurient interest may have more significance than is generally acknowledged.
Mair never seeks to belittle the seriousness of what is generally considered Abuse and is scrupulous in putting forward a balanced argument. Nevertheless I could not help but come away from the book believing there is a Therapy industry that has a vested interest in promoting a culture of victimhood and which relies heavily on sexual content to add a voyeuristic frisson. Of course the saddest casualty in this Therapy industry is the genuine victim who is submerged in the froth of commercial expediency.
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on 11 February 2014
This book is a huge relief from the uncritical elaboration of psychological concepts that is such a frustrating feature of psychoanalysis and most complicated psychotherapies. Katharine Mair brings a critical, perceptive and restrained intellect to bear on ideas of multiple personalities, dissociation and recovered memories, and pulls together a wide range of studies that have been down on and around these issues. It is a gripping read, and I was surprised how much research has been done, and appalled by the evidence and extent of damaging therapies built on some of these ideas. By the end I wanted the author to really put the boot in to therapies that are, at worst, no more ethical or skilled than drug dealing, but she retains her incisive clarity and calm to the very end. It's a breath of fresh air.
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on 4 March 2014
Another excellent exposure of the industry that has sprung up in manufacturing new psychiatric disorders by slackening the diagnostic criteria for previously rare problems until it morphs into an entirely new entity. If you harbour doubts about the epidemic of ADHD, PTSD and similar modern plagues you will find this book fascinating. Multiple personality, a once extremely rare condition metamorphoses into a disease vastly underdiagnosed and prevalent - according to the therapy industry. Another cultural import from the American psychiatric industry with the enormous benefit of offering apparent sure fire cure IF clients undergo years of therapy This time the therapist gets to collect most of the loot instead of big pharma! This really isn't to be missed.
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on 29 August 2014
Excellent book that this is, it is a shame it had to be written. Here, Katherine Mair gets to the root of the false abuse allegations epidemic, disturbed young women and occasionally men being brainwashed by so-called therapists into believing they were sexually abused as children or even babies, often by their own parents. This may have started with Freud, but he can hardly be blamed for where it led. It will have surprised no one that this dangerous nonsense originated in America, nor that it crossed the Atlantic just like rock 'n' roll.

Mair focuses on American cases; the book "Michelle Remembers" is generally credited as the genesis of the modern recovered/repressed memory movement; this was actually written by two Canadians: Lawrence Pazder and the woman he dumped his first wife to marry, Michelle Smith.

Mair discusses too "The Courage To Heal" - more dangerous nonsense, in spite of its being rewritten and toned down ever so slightly; talking of dangerous, she points out on page 117 that “There is growing evidence that recovering memories of child abuse can be life-threatening as well as distressing". You said it.
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on 11 April 2015
Some dogged research has been put into this book, obviously, but it neither well written or accurate. Definitely worth a read to get an understanding of the workings of The False Memory Society that she belongs to, but an alarming glimpse of a new fashion in psychology. I would say - buy it - and be aware that there are dark forces coming into play now.
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on 7 September 2014
Astonishing, but sadly true. Beware all who seek therapy from those who believe themselves qualified but who are not.
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on 31 August 2014
This book has been written by a highly qualified therapist with many years experience,it not only reads well,but I am sure that it will become an excellent reference source for any training therapist,who wishes not to lead patients down the wrong path.
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