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Brenneis, C.B. (1999). Remembering Trauma: A Psychotherapist's Guide to Memory and Illusion: Phil Mollon. Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons. 1998. Pp. 221 + xv. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 80(3):614-616.

(1999). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 80(3):614-616

Remembering Trauma: A Psychotherapist's Guide to Memory and Illusion: Phil Mollon. Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons. 1998. Pp. 221 + xv

Review by:
C. Brooks Brenneis

For most psychoanalysts, the ‘Memory Wars’—that battle over the authenticity of memories of trauma recovered in psychotherapy—may be being fought in a distant land, between parties none of whom raise great sympathy or interest, and about matters that seem relatively far removed from everyday analytic practice. This is, I think, a mistaken perspective; for the Memory Wars, in a very basic sense, engage issues fundamental to analytic practice. At the centre of this debate lie questions about the impact of real past events on psychological development, about the reliability of memory and our capacity to discern past from present, about dissociation as a defence against trauma, and about the vulnerability of the therapeutic process to suggestion. When a seasoned clinician with significant psychoanalytic leanings and a very broad acquaintance with the relevant scientific literature presents a careful look at this mess, it is worth paying attention to. In Remembering Trauma, Mollon accomplishes two ends; he reviews and critically summarises a diverse band of information relevant to the problem of recovered memories; and, based on his conclusions, he offers a series of guidelines for responsible psychoanalytic practice.

Memory and memory for trauma receive considerable attention. Mollon uses an impressively heterogeneous collection of information—clinical cases, clinical, laboratory, and biological research, and emerging theoretical models of memory—to illuminate memory's complexities, especially in response to trauma.

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