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  1. #1
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    Fear of false memories

    I am afraid about something and want to vent a little. I understand that this is a tricky area where perhaps no one can really give me advice. I understand I should figure it out on my own. I'm just so nervous about making the wrong choice.

    I have a brand new therapist who I so far think is intelligent and kind. My fear is understanding what is or isn't a red flag and reason to get out.

    We went over introductory family history and my general bad memory plus conspicuous missing months surrounding one incident seem to make him think there is a good chance I am repressing abuse. Part of my problem is I can't even remember and evaluate therapy sessions so I may be misinterpreting a bit. I voiced my concerns about false memory to him and will continue to be open about my concerns. But I am so scared I should recognize a red flag in a therapist sooner than later.

    So he is not trying to do hypnosis or anything on me. He believes in being careful but open minded in acknowledging something might be there. I think he mainly brought it up to caution me that if things start coming back to me it may be very hard.

    The part that worries me is that I think he said something along the lines of "usually when there are memory gaps like this it is an indication of trauma" & "there are some cases of false memories but more cases of people being abused and never remembering" Also he seemed concerned about my general foggy memory of childhood which I don't find suspicious.

    I think he indicated he would not at all be digging for memories. I still feel unsure if I should stay or go.

    Oddly I did remember a long forgotten non childhood memory in between the first and second sessions (we didn't discuss any of this in the first session) but it was not a repressed memory. It was abuse that happened in college that I remember periodically and then forget 99% of the time. I didn't used to realize it was something that counts as abuse and not just my fault. But when I saw a news item about something somewhat similar I felt horrified and sad for the victim. At the time the thing was in the news I had no memory of what happened to me. I recalled again recently but for me I still think it was no big deal and I feel embarrassed. I remember specific things about it but will probably never remember much since I was drunk to the point of almost being incapacitated. I do remember the situation I woke up to.

    I like this therapist. He has a phd and works in a group with supervision. But I don't want to make a terrible irresponsible mistake I will regret by staying with the wrong person.

  2. #2
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    Re: Fear of false memories

    Quote Originally Posted by Prisoner View Post
    We went over introductory family history and my general bad memory plus conspicuous missing months surrounding one incident seem to make him think there is a good chance I am repressing abuse.
    That's a dangerous assumption to make. People have gaps in their childhood memories for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with abuse.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prisoner View Post
    Part of my problem is I can't even remember and evaluate therapy sessions so I may be misinterpreting a bit. I voiced my concerns about false memory to him and will continue to be open about my concerns. But I am so scared I should recognize a red flag in a therapist sooner than later.
    That's good. Be cautious about any pressure at all to remember anything you don't remember.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prisoner View Post
    So he is not trying to do hypnosis or anything on me. He believes in being careful but open minded in acknowledging something might be there.
    Personally, I'd feel more confident if he was also being open about acknowledging that nothing at all might be there as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prisoner View Post
    The part that worries me is that I think he said something along the lines of "usually when there are memory gaps like this it is an indication of trauma" & "there are some cases of false memories but more cases of people being abused and never remembering"
    Neither of those are accurate statements.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prisoner View Post
    Also he seemed concerned about my general foggy memory of childhood which I don't find suspicious.
    It isn't suspicious at all. There are a lot of people with spotty memories of their childhoods. It isn't a sign of any sort of pathology or dysfunction whatsoever and it certainly isn't an indicator of childhood abuse.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prisoner View Post
    I think he indicated he would not at all be digging for memories. I still feel unsure if I should stay or go.
    Do you have other options?

    Quote Originally Posted by Prisoner View Post
    I like this therapist. He has a phd and works in a group with supervision. But I don't want to make a terrible irresponsible mistake I will regret by staying with the wrong person.
    Am I right in assuming that he has limited experience?

  3. #3
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    Re: Fear of false memories

    Thank you!
    Yes I can start searching again or ask for an older member of this group.
    I have had some bad experiences in therapy and difficulty finding someone I feel comfortable with so it is often hard to not just give up. I don't want to start the search again but I can. I usually search online since I am socially isolated and don't have a GP.
    I think he finished his phd less than 10 yrs ago.
    It would be so hard to quit even after only 2 sessions. I need to be strong though.
    PS I think he did say specifically there may be nothing there. But his personal belief seemed to be leaning the other way.

    ---------- Post Merged at 07:36 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 07:09 PM ----------

    PS one thing that therapists sometimes don't understand about me is how for example when I was a teen and was going to be sent to live with my dad just the 2 of us I was terrified he would physically or sexually assault me. In the end events changed so I didn't end up having to move in with him. But therapists wonder why I felt so strongly those things would happen given that they didn't happen before.
    Pps the t and I did agree about ways memory is complex and fallible. Don't know if that's good enough that he made that statement
    Last edited by Prisoner; July 3rd, 2013 at 08:13 PM. Reason: Add PS

  4. #4
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    Re: Fear of false memories

    It is a good thing but I'm still apprehensive about how he seems to be moving toward conclusions or making assumptions that seem to be really quite premature - and by the 2-3 statements he made that I commented on above which are simply not correct.

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    Re: Fear of false memories

    Thank you! This is hard. I can't stop crying. I have had bad experiences/trouble with therapy and don't know if I have it in me to find someone else. It is so hard for me to trust and sometimes things in therapists online info triggers me or the way they talk to me on the phone so it is hard to get to the point of being in an office. I don't know if I can do this anymore. I can't stop crying and panicking.

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    Re: Fear of false memories

    I'm not necessarily suggesting you have to find someone else if you feel comfortable with this therapist. Perhaps you can just proceed cautiously when it comes to this issue and challenge his conclusions and assumptions.

  7. #7
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    Re: Fear of false memories

    Thank you. I have problems with decisions, ruminating, feeling like something is life-or-death. For some reason cbt made me feel worse. I am ashamed I am freaking out so much and feeling out of control. I have this immense feeling of danger and doom about either decision, staying or leaving. I am even having suicidal thoughts. I am not sure if it is appropriate to ask for an earlier appointment so I don't have to wait 1 week and maybe in the session I can try to get a sense of closure about deciding to stay or leave. I feel scared about trying to make it through this week.

  8. #8
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    Re: Fear of false memories

    I don't see how it can hurt to ask for an earlier appointment. Most practitioners have cancellations periodically for various reasons.

    Am I correct in understanding that this therapist works with/under a supervisor? What about as a kind of compromise asking to meet with the supervisor or jointly with the therapist and the supervisor to discuss your concerns?

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