IPT Book Reviews

Title: Truth in Memory  Positive Review Positive Review Positive Review
Editors: Stephen Jay Lynn and Kevin M. McConkey
Publisher: The Guilford Press, 1998

The Guilford Press
72 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
(800) 365-7006
$45.00 (c)

This 508-page book consists of six sections and 19 chapters written by a wide variety of scientists and practitioners who will be familiar to readers, including Bette Bottoms, Gail Goodman, Edward Geiselman, John Kihlstrom, Richard Kluft, Stephen Lindsay, Elizabeth Loftus, Ralph Underwager, and Hollida Wakefield. References follow each chapter and there is a subject index at the end of the book.

The editors see memory as a social construction which raises a host of problems for psychotherapy and the courts. The chapters in Section I lay out the conceptual issues and empirical findings that form the foundation of understanding memory. It is clear that experts are divided on many of the issues.

The two chapters in Section II discuss early autobiographical memories, including how some people can create fantasies about early infancy that fit with their expectations and beliefs concerning infantile experiences. Much of the research on early autobiographical memory is methodologically flawed and early memory reports can be shaped by personal, interpersonal, and situational influences.

The two chapters in Section III address suggestion and suggestibility in children. The authors attempt to find ways to help children report past events more fully and accurately, with less use of leading questions and other techniques that risk contaminating the information obtained.

The five chapters in Section IV present research findings and clinical considerations that are relevant to understanding memory in the context of psychotherapy. This includes a consideration of hypnotically suggested false memory and experimental investigations of hypnotic pseudomemory. One chapter presents the results of two nationwide surveys on claims of satanic ritual abuse and another discusses ways of understanding memories of UFO abductions.

The three chapters in Section V consider false memories in the media, in textbooks, and the law. In the media chapter, it is argued that a complete understanding of the false memory debate requires a careful examination of the media's role in directing attention and framing the debate. In the textbook chapter, the authors examine how different models of multiple personality disorder have been presented in introductory psychology textbooks. The law chapter considers the recovered memory cases that have appeared in the court systems.

The last section, VI, presents a way forward and attempts to find a way for the opposing sides to come together.

This is a powerful set of chapters and I expect that this book will be cited frequently. The writing is high in quality and the book is an outstanding resource for anyone interested in memory.

Reviewed by LeRoy G. Schultz, Emeritus Professor, West Virginia University.

Order this book: Hardcover

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