Memory and Abuse – With a caveat

Charles L. Whitfield, MD is one of my favorite self-help authors. I’ve mentioned him before regarding his excellent book Healing the Child Within. However, today we are talking about Memory and Abuse (Remembering and Healing the Effects of Trauma). And make no mistake, it’s also a fantastic resource!

However.

I feel pretty strongly about something… and let’s see if you agree. It really came home to me after an experience with my last therapist, which I’ll get to shortly.

Okay, so… from the beginning…

If you are someone who remembers the traumatic event and know it’s keeping you from moving forward, this book is for you.

If you are someone who does NOT remember the trauma but you know *something* is lurking there and keeping you from moving forward …

… OR…

If you have no idea what’s under the surface and believe it’s a repressed memory…

My suggestion is NOT to read this book until you GET YOURSELF TO A THERAPIST (one who specializes in repressed memories, if at all possible. And yes, you can ask!).

Here’s the thing: Repressed memories can be very, VERY dangerous, especially in the wrong hands. And by “dangerous” I mean for ALL involved, including the alleged perpetrator.

Don’t get mad at me, please. You’ll understand where I’m coming from as we go on…

And please understand, I have no sympathy for abusers! I have a lot of sympathy for victims of abuse and AM ONE. And I have sympathy for those accused who are actually innocent. Does it happen often? I doubt it, actually. And I’m no doctor or therapist, as you know. But, I have had memories planted in my head by well-meaning, though VERY WRONG, therapists and others.

Here’s what happened to me: While discussing my childhood with my long-time therapist, I mentioned a female family member who had chronic bladder infections as a child. The therapist went straight for “Who was abusing her?” and I was taken aback. I said nobody was abusive in that situation but the therapist prodded and pushed. She kept insisting there MUST be abuse. I finally had to go into an explanation about genetic predisposition and the surgery my family member had to have for reasons totally unrelated to abuse that NEVER HAPPENED. There was a physical issue with the urethra being too small if I recall. And it doesn’t even matter. The point is: There was NO abuse.

Now, imagine if I’d left that office believing my family member had been abused. I’d share it with her, who may begin to question her memories. Maybe we’d go through the possible abusers, trying to figure it out when, where and with whom it happened. Maybe we’d get a book like this, that lays out a plan to remember and heal that abuse (again, that never happened). Maybe we go to the men in our family. Maybe we believe them when they say nothing happened, maybe not. Who knows at that point?

Lives can be ruined.

Understand: I will never blame the victim. Not ever!

But I will call out “professionals” who create a dangerous precedent by planting ideas in their client’s heads.

Also, there is a school of thought that says in ***some cases*** it is safer NOT-to remember. I wrote a whole post about it in April of this year. If interested, please read it HERE.

Okay…

All that said, this book is outstanding and Whitfield is an iconic and prolific writer!

This book could be used as a college textbook… for sure!… and I’m guessing it has been! The writing is excellent and not above your head. It’s conversational and easy to understand. It just happens to have tons (TONS!!) of exercises, personal and legal advice, charts, and a footnote section that could be a book all its own. It is … simply… the best book on this subject. <<<And hey, it came out in 1995 and I still think so!

Again… my little caveat…

Please be careful… don’t go through this alone. Repressed (or misremembered or delayed) recollection is a serious business and requires expert support!

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