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Brenneis, C.B. (1996). Cause for Skepticism About Recovered Memory: Commentary on Papers by Davies and Harris. Psychoanal. Dial., 6(2):219-230.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 6(2):219-230

Cause for Skepticism About Recovered Memory: Commentary on Papers by Davies and Harris Related Papers

C. Brooks Brenneis, Ph.D.

The possibility of falsely recovered memories may haunt clinicians working with patients thought to be survivors of childhood sexual abuse and cast a shadow of doubt over already confusing therapeutic processes. Throwing light on the subject must eventually aid clinicians in their efforts to grapple with what the truth might be in any given instance. Davies and Harris are both to be commended for their efforts to initiate this exchange on the vexing problem of recovered memory of childhood abuse. The opportunity to respond from my “skeptical” position is most welcome.

Clearly Davies and Harris recognize that the skeptical position is occupied not solely by clinicians not up to speed on trauma research, by publicity-seeking memory researchers, and by parents with ulterior motives. It is not readily apparent from their articles, however, that the topic of recovered memory is a source of reasoned dispute within the analytic community (Frankel, 1993; Esman, 1994; Good, 1994a, b; Raphling, 1994). Consequently, a brief description of the origins of my skepticism might be a useful starting point.

Nearly a decade ago, I found myself in precisely the position so aptly captured by Tansey (1994): over several years' work, my patient recounted numerous dissociative episodes, peculiar behavioral enactments at night, and repetitive, frankly violent, and sexual dreams. For many months, she had explicit dreams of being sexually exploited as a child by an older man.

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