From David Jockelson
Doubtless there are some therapists guilty of instilling false memories (10 October, p 8). But it would be tragic if this occasional bad practice makes us doubt the value of psychological work and the need to listen to victims. The experience of church abuse shows that the pendulum of belief is firmly stuck in denial in many powerful quarters.
I am accredited with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and am also a solicitor involved with childcare cases. Ironically, I encounter a lot of false memories in my therapy clients. Frequently, they come to me with serious emotional problems but initially tell me they could not be anything to do with their “happy childhoods”. Over the next few sessions, without any pressure or suggestion, they will often disclose events in those childhoods which are clear examples of neglect or abuse.
In my role as a solicitor, I have the painful advantage of seeing intergenerational abuse and dysfunction. I frequently deal with parents who are in complete denial about their own childhood experiences, actually having no memory of it. However, also in the case papers is full evidence of the abuse that person suffered as a child, and which they are often now repeating and inflicting on their children.