email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
Maximizing Effectiveness in Dynamic Psychotherapy Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy101 Healing StoriesA Clinician's Guide to Legal Issues in PsychotherapyA Map of the MindA Primer for Beginning PsychotherapyACT With LoveActive Treatment of DepressionAffect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of SelfAlready FreeBad TherapyBecoming an Effective PsychotherapistBefore ForgivingBeing a Brain-Wise TherapistBetrayed as BoysBeyond Evidence-Based PsychotherapyBeyond MadnessBeyond PostmodernismBinge No MoreBiofeedback for the BrainBipolar DisorderBody PsychotherapyBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBrain Change TherapyBrain Science and Psychological DisordersBrain-Based Therapy with AdultsBrain-Based Therapy with Children and AdolescentsBrief Adolescent Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Child Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Therapy Homework PlannerBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheCase Studies in DepressionCaught in the NetChild and Adolescent Treatment for Social Work PracticeChoosing an Online TherapistChronic DepressionClinical Dilemmas in PsychotherapyClinical Handbook of Psychological DisordersClinical Intuition in PsychotherapyClinical Pearls of WisdomCo-Creating ChangeCognitive Therapy for Challenging ProblemsCompassionConfessions of a Former ChildConfidential RelationshipsConfidentiality and Mental HealthConfidingContemplative Psychotherapy EssentialsControlConversations About Psychology and Sexual OrientationCoping with BPDCouch FictionCounseling in GenderlandCounseling with Choice TheoryCouple SkillsCrazy for YouCreating a Life of Meaning and CompassionCreating HysteriaCritical Issues in PsychotherapyCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesDeafness In MindDecoding the Ethics CodeDeconstructing PsychotherapyDeep Brain StimulationDemystifying TherapyDepression 101Depression in ContextDialogues on DifferenceDissociative ChildrenDo-It-Yourself Eye Movement Techniques for Emotional HealingE-TherapyEarly WarningEncountering the Sacred in PsychotherapyEnergy Psychology InteractiveErrant SelvesEssays on Philosophical CounselingEssentials of Wais-III AssessmentEthically Challenged ProfessionsEthics and Values in PsychotherapyEthics in Plain EnglishEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingExpectationExploring the Self through PhotographyExpressing EmotionFacing Human SufferingFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFamily TherapyFavorite Counseling and Therapy Homework AssignmentsFear of IntimacyFlourishingFolie a DeuxForms of Intersubjectivity in Infant Reasearch and Adult TreatmentFoundations of Ethical Practice, Research, and Teaching in PsychologyFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFrom Morality to Mental HealthFundamentals of Psychoanalytic TechniqueGenes on the CouchGod & TherapyHalf Empty, Half FullHandbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for TherapistsHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHandbook of Evidence-Based Therapies for Children and AdolescentsHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHeinz KohutHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHigh RiskHistory of PsychotherapyHow Clients Make Therapy WorkHow Psychotherapists DevelopHow to Fail As a TherapistHow to Go to TherapyHypnosis for Inner Conflict ResolutionHypnosis for Smoking CessationI Never Promised You a Rose GardenIf Only I Had KnownIn Others' EyesIn SessionIn Therapy We TrustIn Treatment: Season 1Incorporating Spirituality in Counseling and PsychotherapyInside the SessionInside TherapyIs Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Issues in Philosophical CounselingIt's Not as Bad as It SeemsItís Your HourLearning from Our MistakesLearning Supportive PsychotherapyLetters to a Young TherapistLife CoachingLogotherapy and Existential AnalysisLove's ExecutionerMadness and DemocracyMaking the Big LeapMan's Search for MeaningMetaphoria: Metaphor and Guided Metaphor for Psychotherapy and HealingMind GamesMindfulness and AcceptanceMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for DepressionMindworks: An Introduction to NLPMockingbird YearsMoments of EngagementMomma and the Meaning of LifeMotivational Interviewing: Preparing People For ChangeMulticulturalism and the Therapeutic ProcessMultifamily Groups in the Treatment of Severe Psychiatric DisordersNarrative PracticeOn the CouchOne Nation Under TherapyOur Inner WorldOur Last Great IllusionOutsider ArtOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsOverexposedPathways to SpiritualityPersonality and PsychotherapyPhilosophical CounselingPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPhilosophical Issues in Counseling and PsychotherapyPhilosophical PracticePhilosophy and PsychotherapyPhilosophy for Counselling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy PracticePhilosophy's Role in Counseling and PsychotherapyPillar of SaltPlan BPlato, Not Prozac!Polarities of ExperiencesPower GamesPractical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and PatientsPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyPsychologists Defying the CrowdPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychosis in the FamilyPsychotherapyPsychotherapyPsychotherapy and ConfidentialityPsychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy for Personality DisordersPsychotherapy Is Worth ItPsychotherapy Isn't What You ThinkPsychotherapy with Adolescent Girls and Young WomenPsychotherapy with Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy without the SelfPsychotherapy, American Culture, and Social PolicyRapid Cognitive TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRationality and the Pursuit of HappinessRebuilding Shattered LivesReclaiming Our ChildrenRecovery OptionsRelationalityRent Two Films and Let's Talk in the MorningSaving the Modern SoulScience and Pseudoscience in Clinical PsychologySecond-order Change in PsychotherapySelf-Compassion in PsychotherapySelf-Determination Theory in the ClinicSelf-Disclosure in Psychotherapy and RecoverySerious ShoppingSex, Therapy, and KidsSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySigns of SafetySoul Murder RevisitedStaring at the SunStraight to JesusStrangers to OurselvesSubjective Experience and the Logic of the OtherTaking America Off DrugsTales of PsychotherapyTales of UnknowingTalk is Not EnoughTalking Cures and Placebo EffectsTelling SecretsThe Behavioral Medicine Treatment PlannerThe Body in PsychotherapyThe Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner with DiskThe Case Formulation Approach to Cognitive-Behavior TherapyThe Challenge for Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyThe Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Clinical Child Documentation SourcebookThe Clinical Documentation SourcebookThe Complete Adult Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Couch and the TreeThe Couples Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Crucible of ExperienceThe Cure of SoulsThe Death of PsychotherapyThe Education of Mrs. BemisThe Ethical Treatment of DepressionThe Ethics of PsychoanalysisThe Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Gift of TherapyThe Great Psychotherapy Debate: The Evidence for What Makes Psychotherapy Work The Healing JourneyThe Heart & Soul of ChangeThe Heroic ClientThe Husbands and Wives ClubThe Love CureThe Making of a TherapistThe Mindful TherapistThe Mirror Crack'dThe Mummy at the Dining Room TableThe Neuroscience of PsychotherapyThe Neuroscience of Psychotherapy: Healing the Social BrainThe New Rational TherapyThe Older Adult Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Other Side of DesireThe Pastoral Counseling Treatment PlannerThe Philosopher's Autobiography The Pornographer's GriefThe Portable CoachThe Portable Ethicist for Mental Health Professionals The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Problem of EvilThe Problem with Cognitive Behavioural TherapyThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Psychotherapy Documentation PrimerThe Psychotherapy Documentation PrimerThe Psychotherapy of HopeThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Schopenhauer CureThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Talking CureThe Therapeutic "Aha!"The Therapist's Guide to PsychopharmacologyThe Therapist's Guide to Psychopharmacology, Revised EditionThe Therapist's Ultimate Solution BookThe Trauma of Everyday LifeThe UnsayableThe Way of the JournalTheory and Practice of Brief TherapyTherapy with ChildrenTherapy's DelusionsTheraScribe 3.0 for WindowsTheraScribe 4.0Thinking about ThinkingThinking for CliniciansThinking for CliniciansThoughts Without a ThinkerThriveToward a Psychology of AwakeningTracking Mental Health OutcomesTrauma, Truth and ReconciliationTreating Attachment DisordersTreatment for Chronic DepressionTreatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety DisordersUnderstanding Child MolestersUnspeakable Truths and Happy EndingsWhat the Buddha FeltWhat Works for Whom?What Works for Whom? Second EditionWhen the Body SpeaksWhispers from the EastWise TherapyWittgenstein and PsychotherapyWorking MindsWoulda, Coulda, ShouldaWriting About PatientsYoga Skills for Therapists:Yoga Therapy
Joan Acocella, who is both a dance critic and a co-author of a psychology textbook, apparently drew on both of her interest areas in writing this book. That is, her book contains psychological content, but she dances around the facts. Because she writes smoothly, the average reader floating on the gentle waves of narrative may not be aware that rocks and mud lurk beneath the surface.
Acocellas book is a diatribe against "recovered memory therapy," which, she hastens to assure readers, is now thoroughly debunked. The book describes the alleged defrauding of thousands of women whom Acocella believes were falsely persuaded by incompetent or greedy therapists that they had multiple personality disorder. The condition formerly known as MPD is now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID; it is one of the dissociative disorders, a category of mental disorders listed in the standard catalog of psychiatric diagnoses). Most patients with DID recover previously-unknown-to-them memories of sexual abuse. Acocella blames therapists for using suggestive psychotherapy techniques that in her view have caused thousands of patients to falsely remember that they were sexually abused.
Recovered memory therapy, in her view, resulted from feminist therapists whom she describes as believing that all women have been abused, the recovery movement with its focus on "the inner child," and New Age philosophy. She also blames "the breakdown of the family," because, she believes, divorced dads are easier targets for false accusations of abuse, as are stepfathers.
Before I say more about the book, I want to give the reader full disclosure of my own involvement in the issues discussed in the book. I am past president of International Society for the Study of Dissociation (ISSD), an international association of mental health professionals and researchers promoting research and training in the dissociative disorders. Acocella targets ISSD as the Typhoid Mary of the "recovered memory movement," spreading misguided ideas about patients and abuse. She is pleased to quote a fundraising letter that I wrote to ISSD members during a 1998 financial crisis. She notes that ISSD lost half its membership between 1993 and 1998 (true), that ISSDs official journal ceased publication (true) and that ISSD terminated some of its staff (not true). Had she bothered to contact me or anyone else from ISSD prior to publication of her book, she would have learned that ISSDs financial crisis was resolved; and that although the journal sponsored by ISSD had ceased publication for reasons unrelated to ISSDs financial difficulties, ISSD has already started a new journal.
Acocella builds specious arguments with selective data that often come from biased, unrepresentative, and non-authoritative sources. The existence of a "recovered memory movement" is established by quotations from popular psychology books, and bolstered by out-of-context excerpts from clinical reports of difficult cases that Acocella cites as typical treatment. Reports of outrageously suggestive psychotherapy techniques come from plaintiffs in malpractice cases, with no attempt to present the defense side of the story. Cases that were settled out of court are trotted out to attack therapists as if the never-adjudicated allegations of the plaintiffs were accepted fact. Had Acocella made the slightest attempt to be fair, she would have noted that settlements typically include no admission of wrongdoing or stipulation of the facts in the case. She would also have mentioned that malpractice insurance carriers often settle to avoid paying the legal costs of defending against groundless claims.
In general, Acocella uses court cases, statements by attorneys, and popular psychology books to build a picture of how MPD is treated. She quotes plaintiffs attorney R. Christopher Bardens assertion that therapists cooked up the diagnosis of MPD to "increase their market share," while failing to raise the same issue about the motivations of plaintiffs attorneys. Acocella uses quotations from popular psychology books to describe the typical "recovered memory therapy," even though the books were written by authors who carry no credentials in the dissociative disorders field. She cites ISSDs Guidelines for Treating DID in Adults as evidence that the field has retreated to a "mild, conservative" treatment approach. The Guidelines, which have been cited as a standard of care in several court cases, present an expert consensus on successful treatment that bears little resemblance to what the court cases describe. But the Guidelines only look like a retreat to conservatism because Acocella persists in citing malpractice cases as typical.
I can recommend this book only as an example of a polemic that appeals to the emotions. Most readers will never see how much Acocellas questionable selection of source material has stacked the deck against therapists. She should have discussed the work of Kenneth Pope, Laura Brown, Charles Whitfield, Mike Stanton, and Ross Cheit, all of whom have detailed the distortions of fact and science concerning DID and recovered memory that have been presented to the media. This book demonstrates the result of those distortions and adds to the problem.
Peter M. Barach, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in Cleveland, Ohio. He is Senior Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Dr. Barach has authored several articles and a book chapter on dissociative disorders, and is Past President of International Society for the Study of Dissociation.
To see earlier comments by Peter Barach on Amazon.com, click here. To see a reply to those comments by Joan Acocella, click here.
To discuss this book or the review you have just read, join the Metapsychology Discussion E-Mail Group by going to this URL: http://www.onelist.com/subscribe/metapsy-discussion
Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology.
We feature over 7800 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and
We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.
Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'
Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send
review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank
you for your support!
Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these
announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click
Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers
for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.
Metapsychology Online Reviews
Promote your Page too
Metapsychology Online Reviews