By: David Bloomberg Re: Doubts? (File: THRDOUBT.ZIP) Date: Fri Feb 17 1995 23:24:28 Subj:

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By: David Bloomberg Re: Doubts? (File: THRDOUBT.ZIP) Date: Fri Feb 17 1995 23:24:28 From: Sheppard Gordon Subj: Doubt repressed memories UFO ------------------------------- Therapist sees `people's lives destroyed by this' 12/06/94 THE ARIZONA DAILY STAR After years of helping her clients recover repressed memories of abuse, therapist Linda Ross recently discovered that she herself was suppressing something - her doubts. In the past, when clients told her about their recovered memories of satanic cults or other bizarre abuse, Ross never let on when she did not believe them. "The idea that a therapist would doubt the validity of a story their client was telling was unthinkable," said Ross, who earned a master's degree from the University of Arizona in 1986 and practices in Tucson. "I convinced myself the problem was with me," she said. "I figured the stories were so horrible that I didn't want to believe them." But when one of her clients began doubting her recovered recollections of ritual abuse, Ross questioned her own faith in such memories. "Some of the nagging doubts I had regarding repressed memories began to surface," she said. "And it began to explain why some of my sexual abuse patients weren't getting any better." In the past year, Ross has studied research on the mechanics of memory and attended seminars sponsored by the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, a resource group for parents whose children have accused them of abuse based on recovered memories. "Sitting in a room with those people made me see how people's lives are being destroyed by this," she said. "I hear therapists say that it doesn't matter whether repressed memories are accurate. Well, it matters a great deal to the people who are accused." Ross has concluded that while some recovered memories may be accurate, there is no way to know for sure without corroborating evidence. Therefore, she no longer feels comfortable either helping clients search for memories or quietly supporting the memories they recover on their own. Her new skepticism doesn't affect her faith in clients who always remembered their abuse. But she no longer believes some of the repressed memories she helped former clients recover through question and answer sessions. "It was a dance between myself and the client," she said. "My questions were very benign - what time of year did it happen? What did the room look like? But they wound up having a suggestive quality because they led the client to enhance her story in ways she hadn't considered."In turn, the details her clients provided convinced Ross the stories were true. But she now realizes imagined accounts of abuse can be as rich in detail and emotion as actual memories. She said her research also dispelled other myths she shared with many therapists - that patients who have eating disorders or who cannot remember certain periods of their life are usually hiding repressed memories of abuse. Most importantly, though, she says she's learned it's better to doubt her clients' repressed memories than to encourage them to live a lie. "I'm not making so many assumptions," she said. "We need to make sure people are dealing with something that's real."


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