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Brenneis, C.B. (1997). Reply. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:1287-1289.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:1287-1289


C. Brooks Brenneis

July 30, 1997. I appreciate Ira Brenner's attention to my work and regret that he experienced as disrespectful my lack of response to his reply to my letter (JAPA 43/1). Perhaps incorrectly, I presumed that in such exchanges the author, in this case Brenner, both gets and deserves the last word. That said, I would like to reply to two issues raised in his current letter: (1) documentation and (2) analytic influence.

My review of analytic cases that report memories recovered from conscious inaccessibility has led me to conclude that external corroboration is not often mentioned and, if noted, is frequently rather circumstantial or of dubious validity. Viederman's case (1995) illustrates this latter category. It is puzzling to me, when this issue is fraught with such terrible possibilities and consequences, whatever the truth, that those with indisputable documentation for recovered memories do not share it in sufficient detail for the rest of the analytic community to assess it critically. In Brenner's case (1996), even skeptics such as myself would welcome a more complete description of the available “written documentation, eyewitness accounts ..., or acknowledgment by the perpetrators.” While the requirements of confidentiality may make this not exactly a straightforward task, the evidence he possesses is too critical to remain asserted but not described. In the end, each of us must be more committed to ascertaining the truth than to being right.

Brenner proposes that patients may be less than candid in stating, at the outset of treatment, that they have no memories of incest or abuse, and that it is unskeptical of me to take such statements at face value.

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