IPT Book Reviews

Title: Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse
Author: Jennifer J. Freyd
Publisher: Harvard University Press, 1997

Harvard University Press
79 Garden Street
Cambridge, MA 02138-1499
(800) 448-2242

Jennifer Freyd, a cognitive psychologist and the daughter of Pamela Freyd, the Director of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, addresses the question of why memories of incestuous abuse are suppressed when other types of traumatic memories are remembered. This 232-page book consists of seven chapters defending Freyd's betrayal trauma theory. According to her thesis, abuse of child by a parent or caretaker constitutes a betrayal of trust. Since the child is dependent on the parent and cannot escape, the child copes with this intolerable situation by suppressing memories of the incest.

Freyd's theory is not fact and it is difficult to see what accepting her betrayal trauma theory can do to help either the accused or the accuser. The book is filled with assumptions, depends upon anecdotal information, and is more advocacy than science. All types of sexual abuse are mixed together, correlation is confused with causation, and she believes that recanting means abuse really happened. There is little that helps distinguish false and true memories of abuse.

This book is not recommended.

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

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