IPT Book Reviews

Title: Suggestions of Abuse: True and False Memories of Childhood Sexual Trauma  Positive Review
Author: Michael D. Yapko
Publisher: Simon and Schuster 1994

Simon and Schuster
Rockefeller Center
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020


This 271-page book consists of 10 chapters and 3 appendices and ends with a good bibliography.  The author highlights the pseudoscientific beliefs about hypnosis, particularly when hypnosis is used to acquire evidence in a criminal case.  The book is based on the author's study of 860 therapists' attitudes toward "repressed memories" and explains how therapists may unwittingly lead their clients to recover false memories of sexual abuse.  The iatrogenic nature of some treatment techniques are discussed and Yapko discusses how myths and erroneous beliefs affect therapy.  The repeated theme of the book is that "abuse happens, but so do false accusations" (p.22).  Each chapter closes with a section entitled "Key Points to Remember."


This book serves as a warning to all therapists who rely on hypnosis as a means of uncovering or refreshing memories.  Yapko notes that anyone can use hypnosis, and there are no standards against which to judge the adequacy of the techniques.  This book makes the point that hypnotically-refreshed testimony is not reliable and is not admissible in court.  Many therapists confuse the process and purpose of investigation with the therapeutic process of healing.  Yapko cautions that a healthy skepticism is frequently absent when there are allegations of abuse.  Many therapists remain convinced that if the client believes abuse occurred then the abuse must be real.  Such naive belief often has later repercussions for both the client and the accused.

This book is easy to read, and will stand as an indictment of the questionable tactics used by some hypnotists.  It provides advice for individuals and families who have been affected by false accusations of repressed abuse and for persons who suspect their recovered memories may not be true.

Reviewed by LeRoy G. Schultz, Professor Emeritus of Social Work, West Virginia University, Morganstown, West Virginia.

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