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February 8, 1995

Unchained Memories: True Stories of Traumatic Memories, Lost and Found

Author Affiliations

George Washington University Medical Center Washington, DC

 

by Lenore Terr, 282 pp, $22, ISBN 0-465-08823-6, New York, NY, BasicBooks Inc, 1994.

JAMA. 1995;273(6):509. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520300083049

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Abstract

No area of current psychiatric interest is more politicized than discussions about traumatic memory. Public figures, criminal defendants, and civil plaintiffs have drawn intense media attention to claims of memories of victimization, especially incest, child abuse, and, most recently, accusations of Satanism. The accused parties vigorously impugn such testimony by claiming the existence of a "false memory syndrome." Both sides have vocal constituencies, so that dispassionate scientific debate over the nature and validity of memory enlists both radical critics of the social order and radical defenders of the power structure that maintains it. When the events in question become the subject of legal proceedings, the differences between standards of clinical validity and those required in a court of law further obscure the problem.

Lenore Terr, the author of this volume, is an undisputed authority on the subject of children's capacity to remember traumatic events. In the 1970s she evaluated a

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