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Good, M.I. (1999). Recovered Memories of Abuse: True or False: Joseph Sandler and Peter Fonagy. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, 1998, xxi + 250 pp., $55.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 47(1):237-240.

(1999). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 47(1):237-240

Recovered Memories of Abuse: True or False: Joseph Sandler and Peter Fonagy. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, 1998, xxi + 250 pp., $55.00.

Review by:
Michael I. Good

The first part of this book, as noted in the preface, records the proceedings of a remarkable conference held in June 1994 at University College London on the issue of the validity of recovered memories of abuse. The heat this subject has generated is perhaps reflected in the fact that a false fire alarm was set off during the conference. Papers presented include “Memories of Abuse, or Abuse of Memories?” by Lawrence Weiskrantz, with discussion by Judith Trowell; “Cognitive Perspectives on Recovered Memories” by John Morton, with discussion by Christopher Cordess; “Remembering in Therapy” by Valerie Sinason, with discussion by Susie Orbach; and a panel discussion by Alan Baddeley, Peter Fonagy, Brendan MacCarthy, John Morton, Hanna Segal, Valerie Sinason, and Lawrence Weiskrantz. In addition, each of the papers and discussions is followed by a general discussion, including the audience, that lends an immediacy and give-and-take to the timely and important topics covered. The second part of the book, “A Psychoanalytic Theory of Repression and the Unconscious,” is a carefully reasoned discussion by Joseph Sandler and Anne-Marie Sandler regarding a psychoanalytic approach to the question of recovered memories. Last is a detailed review and commentary by Peter Fonagy an Mary Target, “Perspectives on the Recovered Memory Debate,” on the complex matter of our present understanding of early memories and the possibility of their later recovery.

As a record and extension of the conference, this book is remarkable not only for the range and scholarship with which views on this controversial subject are presented, but also for what it does not include.

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