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Diagnosis for Disaster


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Among the spate of recent books on ``recovered'' memories of alleged childhood sexual abuse, this one stands out because it is structured as a cautionary manual for patients, therapists and for anyone wondering if she or he was sexually abused as a child. The book is filled with interviews and testimonies by individuals, mostly women, who healed from misguided therapy only after they realized that their purported memories of childhood sexual abuse, usually by a parent, were false-fantasies engendered and encouraged by coercive therapists or by pressure from support groups, often using techniques such as free association, hypnosis and trance-like states. Some of the stories involve pseudo-memories of incest thought to be part of satanic ritual abuse, or questionable diagnoses of multiple personality disorder. Wassil-Grimm (Where's Daddy?), a writer on family issues, links together case histories, summaries of research, checklists and self-assessment tests into a clearly written handbook that is also a cogent critique of the excesses of the sexual abuse ``recovery movement.'' (Feb.)

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