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Home arrow False and "Recovered" Memories arrow False Memory Syndrome - Book Reviews arrow Book Review: Psychology Astray: Fallacies in Studies of Repressed Memory" and Childhood Trauma

Book Review: Psychology Astray: Fallacies in Studies of Repressed Memory" and Childhood Trauma

Author: Harrison G. Pope, Jr., M.D. 

Can individuals "repress" the memory of traumatic childhood experiences? Does childhood sexual abuse cause victims to develop psychiatric disorders years later in adulthood? Many people will answer that "everybody knows" these things to be true. But are they? How much can scientists really claim to know about these questions? Psychology Astray challenges these beliefs.

Dr. Harrison Pope examines the evidence for these two hypotheses, and takes a rigorous and incisive look at the studies available. His conclusions are startling--there is presently no satisfactory evidence that people can actually "repress" memories, nor is there adequate evidence that childhood sexual abuse causes adult psychiatric disorders. The fact remains that the "evidence" cited in many of these studies can be more readily explained by more mundane processes, such as early childhood amnesia, ordinary forgetfulness, or elective non-disclosure.

Psychology Astray is written for students and scholars in the fields of psychology, mental health, medical research and law. The flaws in existing studies are exposed and illustrated, using simple and colorful analogies from ordinary life which everyone can understand.



"Pope's careful analysis of possible sources of error should be useful to intending epidemiologists , and regrettably some practising ones, and to other disciplines with the social sciences."

- Stuart Sutherland, Nature, July 17, 1997


"This is an outstanding book about memory. ... The cases, stories and examples are funny, riveting and memorable. ... Pope is an excellent scholar and an effective teacher!"

- David Holmes, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology, University of Kansas Author of Abnormal Psychology


"This well-written, lively, and thoughtful book is the best introduction I know to the pitfalls of ... 'Represeed Memories'... I shall recommend this book to resident psychiatrists and medical students concerned about the foundations of psychiatry ... A book of this sort has been long needed."

-Paul R. McHugh, M.D., Henry Phipps, Professor of Psychiatry and Chief, Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, John Hopkins University School of Medicine