Memory Matters : Contexts for Understanding Sexual Abuse Recollections book cover
1st Edition

Memory Matters
Contexts for Understanding Sexual Abuse Recollections

ISBN 9780415650076
Published October 19, 2012 by Routledge
248 Pages

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Book Description

This book is grounded in the debates of the 1980s and 1990s that surrounded recollections of childhood sexual abuse, particularly those that emerged in the context of psychotherapy. When growing numbers of therapists claimed that they were recovering deeply repressed memories of early sexual violations in their female clients, a wave of alarmed critics countered that therapists were implanting the very memories they were discovering. In looking back at this volatile and heated controversy, Memory Matters takes up disturbing questions that linger concerning memory, sexuality, and childhood.

Beginning with a re-analysis of cases from the recovered memory era, the volume goes on to offer fresh perspectives on recollections of childhood sexual abuse. Informed by feminist and critical perspectives within psychology, contributing authors introduce examples from their own qualitative research on processes of remembering. They offer rich examples from a wide range of applied settings, from the courts, psychotherapy, institutions for the disabled, to self-help groups and the media.

A shared set of questions is addressed by each of the authors to create a dialogue with the reader on recurring motifs. Memory Matters is an ideal resource for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students in the social sciences and legal studies, as well as practitioners in the fields of mental health, crisis services, and the law. Scholarly and accessible in tone, the book also offers helpful insights for professionals working with childhood memory.

Table of Contents

J. Haaken, P. Reavey, Why Memory Still Matters: Disturbing Recollections. Section 1. Looking Back on the Recovered Memory Debate: Claims and Counter-claims. M. Ashmore, S.D. Brown, On Changing One's Mind Twice: The Strange Credibility of Retracting Recovered Memories. J. Ost, K. Nunkoosing, Reconstructing Bartlett and Revisiting Retractions of Contested Claims of Abuse. J.F. Motzkau, Speaking Up Against Justice: Credibility, Suggestibility and Children's Memory on Trial. J. Kitzinger, Transformations of Public and Private Knowledge: Audience Reception, Feminism and the Experience of Childhood Sexual Abuse. J. Woodiwiss, 'Alternative Memories' and the Construction of a Sexual Abuse Narrative. Section 2. Widening the Lens: Cultural Contexts for Remembering Child Sexual Abuse. P. Reavey, The Spaces of Memory: Rethinking Agency Through Materiality. K. Robson, 'Truth', Memory and Narrative in Memoirs of Child Sexual Abuse. R. Fyson, J. Cromby, Memory, Sexual Abuse and the Politics of Learning Disability. S. Campbell, Memory, Truth, and the Search for an Authentic Past. E. Burman, Therapy as Memory-work: Dilemmas of Discovery, Recovery and Construction. J. Haaken, Transformative Remembering: Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and Recollections of Abuse.

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Janice Haaken is Professor of Psychology at Portland State University, a clinical and community psychologist, and a documentary filmmaker. She has published extensively in the areas of psychoanalysis and feminism, the history of gender and diagnostic categories, group responses to violence and trauma, gender and collective remembering, storytelling, and the psychology of social change.

Paula Reavey is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at London South Bank University. Her research interests are around social remembering, embodiment and distress across a variety of therapeutic, everyday and psychiatric settings. These include the study of everyday recollections of child sexual abuse, therapeutic understanding of gender and memory and the use of memory work with service users.


"This is a challenging book with excellent contributions from international scholars. It has the potential to shift the balance of memory research from a neurological context-free process towards an exciting interdisciplinary, discursive approach to remembering and embodiment. It should be essential reading for all those working and studying in the field of memories of abuse." - Paula Nicolson, Royal Holloway University of London, UK

"Memory Matters provides an exhaustive overview and thorough grounding for anyone wishing to find out about research on memory and abuse, or to undertake such research themselves. I have rarely seen such an impressive, comprehensive anthology, least of all one addressing such critical and controversial material as these essays." - Lynne Segal, Professor of Gender and Psychology, Birkbeck College, UK