Recovered Memory Therapy: Dangerous Medicine From The World

14 Dec

Recovered Memory Therapy: Dangerous Medicine From The World

By David M. Tyler

Jane never knew about her tormented childhood until she began counseling. The counselor was on staff at the church Jane and her husband attended.  Under the counselor’s supervision, Jane remembered how her father had repeatedly raped her, impregnated her, and performed an abortion on her using a coat hanger.  Yet in truth, Jane, at the time of the purported incidents, was a virgin and her father had received a vasectomy years prior to the alleged incest and impregnation.

Kathy had gone to a psychiatrist in an attempt to manage her reaction to a traumatic event her son had experienced.  The psychiatrist used various techniques, including hypnosis and visualization, causing Kathy to remember years of abuse of which she had not been conscious.  As counseling progressed, Kathy became convinced that she had repressed memories of having been in a satanic cult, of murdering and eating babies, and being raped.  When Kathy realized that false memories had been planted, she sued the psychiatrist for malpractice. (1)

Both Jane and Kathy were victims of Recovered Memory Therapy (RMT), the practice of delving back into a counselee’s past fro repressed memories.  The process is based on the presupposition that the mind is like a video recorder and is filled with intact memories of past events that are hidden from the counselee.  Through the use of hypnosis, (2) the therapist helps the subject “remember” these events.

 Life’s problems and man’s sinful behavior always seem to have therapists digging around in the trash cans for solutions.  And these unbiblical strategies come and go from low self-esteem to multiple personality disorder to victimization to dysfunctional to the current trend of recovered memories.  Keeping in line with the treatment of the day, many therapists now believe that nearly everyone is a victim of some sexual abuse, and a great number of the recovered memories pertain to sexual abuse.

 This lack of conscious memories, which purportedly are so traumatic that the mind has had to repress them, is cited as proof of the abuse.  Other recovered memories may include those of abductions by extraterrestrials.  The New York Times reported on a Harvard study which found “people who genuinely believed that they had been taken by extraterrestrials and had built elaborate narratives of space travel, mind control and erotic encounters with beings from other planets.”  (3) Other recovered memories involved satanic rituals or traumas in a “previous” life.  RMT therapists are not put off at all by bizarre “recollections.”  They either take them at face value or believe them to be symbolic of real experiences.

While opposition and lawsuits have slowed the impact of Recovered Memory Therapy, some psychotherapists still use it.

Over the past several decades the RMT movement has swept across America.  Thousands of counselors enthusiastically participated.  Countless cases of alleged abuses that had been repressed in people’s subconscious have been claimed and reported.  Incest and abuse support groups were formed as people “remembered” and “recovered” from their abusive pasts.  Untold seminars, books, tapes, and testimonies accompanied the frenzy of the RTM movement.  Afternoon talk shows showcased housewives, bricklayers, and celebrities telling their heart-wrenching stories of abuse by parents, pastors, teachers, and others.  As a result, thousands of people, insisting that they were innocent, were hauled into court, publicly humiliated, and even imprisoned.

It is a strange and dangerous time when people are being accused, tried, and convicted with no more evidence of guilt than the word of the accuser.

Even some of the therapists’ own number are not too sure.  One psychiatrist likens it to the hysteria and superstitious zeal of the witch trials of the 16th and 17th centuries.  It is sad to think how families have been torn apart and loved ones imprisoned on “evidence” provided by memories that come back in dreams and flashbacks.

End Notes (1-2)

1.The cited examples of “Jane”  and “Kathy are based upon real incidents. The particulars stated have not been modified or enhanced, but the names of the actual persons have been changed and other explicit details omitted to provide anonymity.

2.  For a Christian perspective of hypnosis, see Hypnosis and the Christian by Martin and Diedre Bobgan (Bethany House Publishers). The Bobgans state, “Hypnotism is demonic at its worst and potentially dangerous at its best”

The proceeding article is only a portion of the original article produced by Personal Freedom Outreach from the Quarterly Journal. To read the conclusion of this article, please write and request PFO’s Quarterly Journal VOL. 23, No 2 , April-June 2003


Books: Hypnosis Medical Scientific or Occultic by Martin and Deidre Bobgan can be ordered from the ministry website at:

Recovery Ministries, RMT, therapeutic Church, Psychology, evangelical church, false memories, false accusations of sexual abuse, youth ministries, church counseling, Christian recovery literature, Sigmund Freud, parachurch organizations, occult, discernment, personality disorders, false memories,

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