Try to Remember: Psychiatry's Clash Over Meaning, Memory, and Mind
In the 1990s a disturbing trend emerged in psychotherapy: patients began accusing their parents and other close relatives of sexual abuse, as a result of false “recovered memories” urged onto them by therapists practicing new methods of treatment. The subsequent loss of public confidence in psychotherapy was devastating to psychiatrist Paul R. McHugh, and with Try to Remember, he looks at what went wrong and describes what must be done to restore psychotherapy to a more honored and useful place in therapeutic treatment.
In this thought-provoking account, McHugh explains why trendy diagnoses and misguided treatments have repeatedly taken over psychotherapy. He recounts his participation in court battles that erupted over diagnoses of recovered memories and the frequent companion diagnoses of multiple-personality disorders. He also warns that diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder today may be perpetuating a similar misdirection, thus exacerbating the patients’ suffering. He argues that both the public and psychiatric professionals must raise their standards for psychotherapy, in order to ensure that the incorrect designation of memory as the root cause of disorders does not occur again. Psychotherapy, McHugh ultimately shows, is a valuable healing method—and at the very least an important adjunct treatment—to the numerous psychopharmaceuticals that flood the drug market today.
An urgent call to arms for patients and therapists alike, Try to Remember delineates the difference between good and bad psychiatry and challenges us to reconsider psychotherapy as the most effective way to heal troubled minds.
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Based on the 2005 and 2006 tax returns of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, the Foundation paid the author(s) over $100,000 to write this book. Looks like the Foundation liked the results well enough to approve it for publication. In the interests of full disclosure, the author and Dana Press should have mentioned this.
I give it five for five when talking about his personal experience, but drop it by one because McHugh doens't include references and scientific literature to address his points. It's meant to be an autobiography of a weird time in the history of psychiatry, but I always find books more convincing when there's links to source material. Very readable, very interesting, but not quite as convincing as I'd like it to be.