A discredited form of psychotherapy which typically:
1. assumes that childhood trauma (usually sexual in nature) is the basis of most psychological symptomatology;
2. assumes that people who have no memory of such trauma have probably "repressed" it through some arcane and undemonstrated psychological process, blocking it out of their mind completely;
3. assumes that it is necessary to "recover" these "repressed" memories in order for healing to occur;
4. assumes that methods known to produce false memories, such as hypnosis, guided imagery and EMDR can be used to produce accurate recollections;
5. often assumes that "flashbacks" and body memories
are signs that the memories recalled are accurate, because of the mistaken view of the therapist that memory is "like a video tape recorder" that permits playback.
The "recovery" process often recommends cutting off contact with people who question the memories, including but not limited to family members who deny that the events so recalled in fact occurred. Recovered memory therapy is a major source of false memory syndrome
, and has led to numerous false allegations of 'Satanic Ritual Abuse.'
"Whilst undergoing hypnosis
as part of recovered memory therapy, Sally remembered being forced to kill and eat a baby she had given birth to after her father had raped her. The fact that she was found on medical examination to be an intact virgin suggested the likelihood of false memory syndrome."