To: MIT.EDU!witchhunt Date: Nov 7 16:17:49 1994 +quot;Editorial from The Therapist, Journa

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From:!!pendergrastmh To: MIT.EDU!witchhunt Date: Nov 7 16:17:49 1994 "Editorial from The Therapist, Journal of the European Therapy Studies Institute, Vol 2, No. 3 Autumn 1994. PROFESSIONAL SNAILS Some therapists are 'making monsters' (Note: this refers to an article in the Therapist by Richard Ofshe) by offering recovered memory therapy. Yet organisations like the British Psychological Society, United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy and the British Association of Counsellors have dragged their feet in responding to the need for guidelines in this area. There is no excuse for this. Since the 1950's, techniques of influence have been researched and the findings extensively published. The wealth of information on the ease with which it is possible to change beliefs and memories can be found in publications ranging from the most thorough scientific papers to widely available paperbacks on human behaviour. Any competent psychologist understands the implications of this information and can explain and discuss it - as can many lay men and women. The quality of the research findings are not in question. So why are the various professional 'working parties' looking into the issue taking so long to produce guidelines? The answer seems to be that, in the name of scientific debate, some of the people on these working parties are defending 'territory' - protecting their belief systems - rather than showing urgent concern for people suffering the consequences of recovered memory 'therapy'. Indeed, issues of belief are really what the delay is all about rather than attempting to be objective about correlating what is already known about human suggestibility and memory. Professor John Morton, chairman of the British Psychological Society's working party on recovered memories says, "Until we understand more, snap judgements are not helpful." That's true enough for anybody who is not expert in a subject. But surely someone in his position should be an expert. This is not an area where little is known. Dithering is not a helpful ploy to those families suffering the consequences of the dangerous reovered memory cults. There is an enormous amount of information available on techniques of influence and memory that form a base from which to move quickly forward to reasonable guidelines. Furthermore there is no need to carefully examine implausible, and certainly unprovable, hypotheses like the existence of "body memories" or whether or not memories go right back to birth and beyond. These are issues of belief, not fact. It should be instantly clear to any competent working party that belief in such notions is potentially dangerous. These are not harmless beliefs like astrology. If a therapist believes in body memories, for example, he or she is likely to see any physical pain or feeling in his client's body as 'evidence' of trauma or abuse. Yet some members of the UKCP working party believe in the existence of body memories and are concerned with defending that belief in their writings about recovered memory. Once a group of professionals, commit themselves to a view, for example believing that recovered memories of satanic abuse is a real problem that should be taken at face value, it is difficult for them to move from that position in the light of new evidence. (This happened with those who worked with Valerie Sinason of the Tavistock Institute. They were swept along by the passion and sincerity of people claiming to have been involved in such practices and came to believe that there is such a thing as satanic abuse. Careful research has shown that there is no such abuse - only belief in it.) This tendency does not help. The families suffering devastation from therapeutic malpractice, and concerned therapists everywhere, can't wait for ever while these organisations catch up. The European Therapy Studies Institute revealed guidelines in May. They are now published. It is folly to re-invent the wheel. Ivan Tyrrell and Barry Winbolt.


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