Return of the Furies. Unpublished article 1994

1994-06-09 Lena Hellblom Sjögren

 Return of the Furies: Analysis of Recovered Memory Therapy, unpublished article about the book with that title by Ralph Underwager and Hollida Wakefield, 1994 , Open Court Publishing Company

Who were the furies? It says in the word book that  ”the furious” – were  the most horrifying and venerable creatures in the Grecian mythology.  Originally they were the spriits of the murdered who came out from the earth and harshly chased their victims. From that they have become the guardians of the moral.

The book Return of the Furies about recovered memory therapy is written by two American psychologists who have been dealing with  child abuse since the beginning of the fifties. The book contains research and crititical judicious discussion and analyses about fundamental issues concerning sexuality, abuse  and also help for professionals. The book is useful for everyone in the sexual abuse field: lawyers, jurors, psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists and lay men. These are the chapters:

– Sexuality, freedom and reason,

– Who gets hurt?,

– The manufacturing of victims: the ”retractors”,

– The therapists who uncover the memories,

– The nature of human memory and forgetting,

– It aint´ necessarily so,

– Is there repressed memory?

– Other commonly used concepts,

– Abusive  behaviors alleged in recovered memory claims,

– When memories are real,

– Good and bad therapists: how to tell the difference,

– Summary and conclusions

Lots of useful references are listed on 42 pages!

The recovered memory claims  in the US are frequent. Parents accused by their grown up children to have sexually abused them in their childhood, have organized. Their organization is called False Memory Syndrome Foundation and has about 20 000 documented cases. The book is dedicated to the founder of this organization, Pamela Freyd.

Billions of dollars are expended  in investigations, socalled therapy and law suits  in the United States – to what result? These authors might be accused of just presenting one side. I´d say that these two authors are critical against inaccurate and not factual data – but that´s not to be one sided.

We in the western countries are bombarded nearly daily with articles, books  and news about the nature and prevalence of sexual abuse, but most of what is presented as facts turns out to be erroneous, grounded on beliefs and assumptions. It is often spread by effective networking. Underwager & Wakefield point out that the citizens´confidence in the justice system is shaken, if not shattered, and that the paranoid style of thought  takes over the system.

Mutuality, cooperativeness and love between man and woman  – a somewhat idealized summary of the Athenian society – extended to the broader society, is what Ralph Underwager and Hollida Wakefield advocate and see as the aim and promise of western civilization. But they see it damaged by the current attack on reason and the destruction of children and families which are the results of the exaggerations in the child sexual abuse field.

The furies have returned with their lust for vengeance, impulsivity, irrationality, and enmity toward men. We have chosen a path of punishment, aggression, irrationality, and flight from reason. The consequence is that we may have harmed more people than we have helped.

” The swift emergence of claims of recovered repressed memories is the logical extension of the errors and foolishness chosen at the beginning of the rush to social change. It shows the effect of turning away from freedom and reason toward vengeance and vitriol, the return of the Furies. At every step along the progression of the child abuse system to claims of recovered memories, it has become more clear that the system dealing with child abuse is based on nonscientific, irrational and foolish dogmas. The engine driving this development has been the radical feminist rhetoric and the readiness to substitute emotion for reason.”

 I hope that this book will be read by many people and that it will be translated into Swedish. We need to import not only the irrational and foolish dogmas from all those who  perceive  child sexual abuse as epidemic  – but also the sense and sound criticism these authors represent.

1994-06-09 Lena Hellblom Sjögren


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