I’ve come across some reviews of a book, written within the past year, about the recovered-memory aspect of the Satanic Ritual Abuse scare: Try to Remember: Psychiatry’s Clash over Meaning, Memory, and Mind by Paul R McHugh.
A review by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, in Metapsychology, contains the following:
If you read carefully the acknowledgement section, as I did, and look into the background of the publisher, you will discover another aspect of the author’s public life. Paul McHugh, in addition to being a psychiatrist, is part of the right-wing cum religious network which was has been so influential in the United States since the 1980s. The Dana Press, which published this book, operates as part of the Dana Foundation, headed by William Safire, speechwriter and ardent supporter of Richard M. Nixon. And so the “memory wars” in this context turn out to be part of the “culture wars” in United States politics, with promoters of repressed/recovered memories being on the left, and their opponents being on the right.
This is not accurate. In fact, the Satanic Ritual Abuse scare cut across the left/right divide, with both supporters and opponents on both sides. As Beit-Hallahmi goes on to say:
I must admit that this idea took me by surprise. While the fantastic accusations against parents certainly reflect a refusal to respect tradition and authority, and feminists were prominent among them, the sex and Satanism allegations drew the support of many religious individuals and organizations. Most of those who challenged the repressed memory movement were by no means right-wingers.
McHugh’s political and religious views clearly have no bearing on his sound analysis of what ails psychiatry and the whole “mental health” industry in the United States and around the world.
Here are some other reviews:
- Review by Steven Poole, The Guardian, Saturday 3 January 2009
- Notes of a Psychology Watcher, Thursday, October 23, 2008
- One on One: Confronting the politics of the couch by Ruthie Blum Leibowitz, Jerusalem Post,
- Review by Robert Michels, American Journal of Psychiatry, June 2009
- Review by David Pilgrim, Times Higher Education (U.K.), 1 January 2009
- Destructive Delusions: How therapists and ‘victims’ seized on the idea of repressed memory, leveling false charges and ruining lives by Theodore Dalrymple, Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2008
- Memory on Trial: Psychotherapy as expert witness by Caitrin Nicol, June 1, 2009
These reviews are a good overview of the “recovered memory” aspect of the panic.
Also I found an interesting relevant news article, Unraveling The Secret Of “Alters”: Doctors Are Of Two Minds About Multiple Personality Disorder by Tracy Smith, CBS News, March 8, 2009. Personally I suspect that McHugh may be going a bit too far with his denial that MPD/DID exists at all.