IPT Book Reviews

Title: Processing Memories Retrieved by Trauma Victims and Survivors: A Primer for Therapists   Negative Review
Authors: Roberta Sachs and Judith Peterson
Publisher: Family Violence and Sexual Assault Institute, 1994

Family Violence and Sexual Assault Institute
1310 Clinic Drive
Tyler, TX 75701
(903) 595-6600
$16.95 (p)

This is a very short book that tries to deal with an extremely complicated subject.  Written by two psychologists, is consists of 75 pages, nine brief chapters, four appendices, and a short bibliography.

The book begins by warning therapists that without "proper" training, the therapist may do more harm than good, and cautions therapists to seek peer support and not attempt to be investigators or to retrieve repressed memories.  At the same time, they believe that memories of abuse in childhood need to be processed.  They make sweeping claims such as the assertion that the roots of mental illness lie in having been sexually abused as a child, and make many vague references such as "very high," "many clients," and "offer insight."  Such conclusions and generalizations, presented without supporting evidence, detract from the book.

There is no consideration of possible benefits of brief psychotherapy for abuse victims and the authors discount clinical research because "there is no practical and ethical way to arrange for control subjects in clinical practice."  But what is most alarming is the authors' cavalier acceptance of whatever the client says, with no effort at verification.  The bibliography is limited and unbalanced and no effort is made to list resources that could help reasonable therapists.  Not one of the many skeptical references on "repressed memory" are mentioned.

This book is not recommended.

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

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