Is it possible to use hypnosis to aid in memory recovery?
March 27, 2007 6:37 AM   Subscribe

Is there any validity or reliability to using hypnosis to explore forgotten memories? Also, recommendations for therapists in the Seattle area or what to look for in a therapist?

I'm sorry, I know this is a ridiculously long question, but I thought some background since I'm asking about something that's pretty scientifically sketchy.

When I was a young girl, about five or six, I watched a really graphic, kinky, weird porn. I could always see flashes of it in my mind and remember scenes from it, but I thought I must have just conjured them up (although, in retrospect, it's obviously hard to imagine a girl that age just imagining this stuff). Anyway, I recently did some research and found out that this was a real movie and I was even able to watch parts of it. My memories about watching it are really vague, although I think I can remember a general place and I have the distinct feeling I saw it more than once.

I keep telling myself that I should just let this go, that's it's not a big deal and it's just a movie and it was something that happened a long time ago and since I don't remember it very clearly it can't have had too much of an impact. I don't have any memory of being sexually assaulted or anything like that, which seems like something I would remember, although I also know that there are certain signs of sexual assault which I do exhibit.

Parts of this have been incorporated into my own sexuality and sometimes in ways that are disturbing to me. I tend to be attracted to really aggressive, sometimes even sexually violent guys and I don't seem to be able to carry on normal relationships, partly because I lose all sexual interest in guys who are really nice to me.

So, I know the standard advice is to see a therapist and I think that's finally something that I'm ready to do. I have a few questions, though. First of all, is there any point in trying to use hypnosis to figure out where these memories are coming from and maybe to reassure myself that nothing serious really happened? Or is it just a pack of bullshit and liable to bring up nothing but false memories?

Also, can anyone recommend any good therapists, of any sort really, in the Seattle area? I've tried googling but haven't really been able to come up with much specific information. How does one go about picking a therapist anyhow? Should I just assume that they all have credentials and are therefore qualified to deal with these sorts of issues or are there specific things I should be checking for?

I set up a gmail account in case anybody has any questions. It's Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's just popular and trendy fiction at the moment, that people think they were sexually assaulted as children. NO, you were not sexually assaulted. Fin.
posted by markovich at 6:41 AM on March 27, 2007

I just talked to my aunt, who is a psychiatrist, about this not too long ago.
Hypnosis works by putting someone in a suggestable state, at which point they try to please the person suggesting things to them. It is worse than useless for recovering memories, and the "recovered memories" movement, which kinda shocked society in the '80s and '90s with a lot of child-abuse allegations, has been totally discredited. Hypnosis will make you remember things as if they were real, whether they happened or not, and can supercede real memories.
Hypnotherapy can be good for suggestable people who want to quit smoking (though, if I recall correctly, it's along the same lines of eficacy as vitamin c and colds). Hypnotherapy is bad for seeking to recall things, and will likely make matters worse. That doesn't mean that there aren't people who would take your money over this, just that they're charlatans.
And none of that means that you shouldn't seek a therapist who can help you deal with your relationships and sexual issues.
posted by klangklangston at 6:52 AM on March 27, 2007

No. Recovered memory is highly suspect, and the recovered memory fad of the late 80s/early 90s did far more harm than good.

By all means, talk to someone if you're distressed about how you're acting now, but be careful about digging into your memory to excavate secrets from the past. It isn't that people are never abused and forget about it (I know at least two people personally who were abused, forgot about it, and have gotten external corroboration of the abuse), but people are suggestible and sometimes "remember" things that did not happen. This is particularly true with hypnosis, which makes explicit use of people's suggestibility.

I'm not suggesting that you ignore something that's troubling you now. If you're troubled about your relationships or your sex life, go speak with a therapist about your relationships and your sex life. If you keep the focus on the present you're just as likely to see change.
posted by OmieWise at 6:55 AM on March 27, 2007

There's a number of useful links off this page. In short, what klangklangston said.
posted by edd at 6:56 AM on March 27, 2007

I have had tons of results from using self-hypnosis in order to explore my memories. I was shocked and excited to find that in a state of hypnosis I had access to virtually all of my memories in minute detail. Working with a therapist on this will probably be helpful, but don't discount the opportunity you have to try this on your own, in a setting that makes you comfortable.
posted by hermitosis at 7:00 AM on March 27, 2007

A therapist once told me that repressing a memory is your mind's way of protecting you from something you're not prepared to handle. I wouldn't try digging around up there to recover something that's maybe (at least for the present) better left buried.
posted by amro at 7:04 AM on March 27, 2007

You need to see a therapist about the current problem as you stated it. They will be able to help.

But steer clear of the hypnosis and recovered memories. Even if it weren't a sham, what possible use could it be?

Here and now is what is important. Find out why you like mean guys. Odds are the therapist will find all they need quite easily during your sessions with no hypnosis needed.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:13 AM on March 27, 2007

Since several people are telling you to see a therapist it's worth pointing out that people are perfectly capable of producing false memories without the assistance of hypnosis and you should be a little wary of this when talking to a therapist.

Whatever happened it's forgotten, and there's no point trying to recall it. As Ynoxas said the here and now is what is important. Steer clear of trying to recover the memories in any way, it'll probably go wrong.
posted by edd at 7:18 AM on March 27, 2007

Whatever happened it's forgotten, and there's no point trying to recall it.

This and similar sentiments here are completely irresponsible and baseless.

It's one thing to force memory to the point of inventing things in order to fill in the blanks, but quite another to work backward through oneself and examine the moments that wound up disproportionately defining our development in key areas. And the more explore, the more you remember on your own, without being coached or guided. The "breakthroughs" that people experience during regular therapy are often the result of connecting events in one's past that previously seemed unimportant.

Any therapist you work with on this issue is going to probe your memories and try to help you understand them, whether hypnosis is involved or not. The idea that you should just move on and concentrate on the present is ridiculous-- some things go away if you ignore them, but your past is not one of those things.
posted by hermitosis at 7:29 AM on March 27, 2007

It's just popular and trendy fiction at the moment, that people think they were sexually assaulted as children. NO, you were not sexually assaulted. Fin.

Except, of course, for the people who were actually sexually assaulted as children.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:31 AM on March 27, 2007

This and similar sentiments here are completely irresponsible and baseless.

It's neither irresponsible nor baseless. There's no evidence that insight, the kind of connections you're talking about, provides change in the present. In fact, the opposite is true, there's evidence that all therapies, even those which do not probe your memories, work equally well. The important part of therapy is the relationship between the therapist and the patient, not an archaeology of the past.

It's well worth cautioning someone that "remembering" something in therapy has no proven therapeutic effect, and may have unexamined consequences. This is not to suggest that insight is necessarily bad, or that there aren't many people who benefit from concentrating on the past in order to change the present. It isn't, and there are. But it isn't irresponsible to point out to someone that they need not remember something horrible in order to change today.
posted by OmieWise at 7:36 AM on March 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

hermitosis: I say what I say because, although you believe you have recalled memories that were true, I happen to have false memories. Mundane ones, but definitely false ones. And they found their way into my head quite easily.

If you're going to try to recall something like that you should have a way of verifying them one way or the other. In which case cut out the dubious middle step of trying to recall something using processes which do go wrong, and just find out what happened a more traditional way.
posted by edd at 7:48 AM on March 27, 2007

How can better remembering the past not contribute to a better grasp of one's present, particularly when the impact they may have on one's sexual identity may be of singular importance? What you are talking about basically amounts to denial and refutation.

If someone has experienced sexual trauma (whether or not there was another person inolved), then chances are they need to explore it thoroughly in order to place it in the correct context, at the correct level of importance, in their present life. The poster does not say she was assaulted, or that she suspects she was-- only that she exhibits curious symptoms which she feels are connected to confusing memories, and that would like to explore this matter with a specialist.

So while therapies that do not probe your memories may work equally well, if I had an unresolved crisis in my past and I sought help to understand it better, I would find the recommendation to not dwell on it and move on to be incredibly patronizing, from either a therapist or a layman.
posted by hermitosis at 7:57 AM on March 27, 2007

hermitosis: Surely you see the difference between normal recollection of experiences during therapy and hypnosis-aided "lost memory" recovery?

Of course the therapist is going to speak to the patient about their experiences.

But I do not see how there could be any value to the forced and dubious "recovered memories".

If it were as obvious as she is stating here, then she wouldn't need a therapist. Come on, "I saw a violent porno as a child and now I only like abusive guys".

What's more likely is that she is manufacturing memories from her past to help explain her current situation.

I'll put it this way... although there surely is something driving the OP's current situation, it is almost assuredly NOT this remembered porno. It would be hard for a 5 year old to put even a violent porno into context.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:11 AM on March 27, 2007

I'm certainly not recommending not dealing with the memories the poster has. She has them, and they're an issue for her.

Furthermore, any memory, genuine or false, can have an emotional impact that needs understanding and dealing with. Indeed, in that sense their veracity is not of particular importance.

I am suggesting that trying to dig up forgotten events is prone to error, and therefore not something that will be useful.
posted by edd at 8:12 AM on March 27, 2007

Say you recover memories of some traumatic event, perhaps sexual abuse. The accused person denies it. Your family denies anything happened. (I mean, after all this time, who is going to say, "Oh yeah, we forgot to tell you what Uncle Ned did when you were five. Sorry 'bout that"?! Denial is almost a certainty.)

Now you don't know whether what you've remembered is real or not, and either your mind or your family is lying. You don't know who or what to trust.

Are you, at this point in your life, emotionally ready to deal with the fallout? Given your statements about your relationships, I don't think so. I would concentrate on making yourself emotionally healthy first. Once you're healthy, I don't think this will seem as earth-shatteringly important.
posted by desjardins at 8:33 AM on March 27, 2007

So let's just say for the record: fraudulent recovered memories = bad. But when deeply exploring traumatic incidents, it's very common to remember details that had been previously buried, or to discover connections to other memories that had previously remained unexamined. Isn't that memory "recovered"?

If the therapist you are seeing is all about digging around in there and recovering memories and basically cracking you like a nut, then of course that's bad. But in the course of regular therapy with a good therapist, these things are going to come up anyway, whether or not hypnosis is involved. I personally think that in the right hands hypnosis can be a useful way to draw focus to certain parts of our minds for extended periods, and to help overcome the resistance to what one finds there, and that dismissing it out of hand in all cases is an overreaction. My own advice is to do your homework, and proceed with caution.
posted by hermitosis at 8:57 AM on March 27, 2007

How can better remembering the past not contribute to a better grasp of one's present, particularly when the impact they may have on one's sexual identity may be of singular importance? What you are talking about basically amounts to denial and refutation.

There was a study of holocaust survivors, sort of the gold standard of surviving traumatic experiences and the ones who compartmentalized their experiences and yes, were in denial did significantly better than the ones who "talked about it." I will try to google it and post if I can find it. I read about this study in a magazine article a few years back. Not to be snide, but sometimes talking about past trauma only re-opens emotional scars that have scabbed over and emotional scars, like physical scars have their uses. Everyone is different, of course, but the dogma that everyone *must* see a therapist or being in denial means you haven't adequately dealt with past trauma is just that - dogma.

The comments about hypnosis being about as valid as reading goat entrails for therapy or recovering past memories is valid. Elizabeth Loftus is a famous psychologist (At UC Berkeley I think?) who did research on recovered memories and how easy it is to implant false memories in general. She received death threats for her trouble. Worth reading up on her.

The original poster, however, does say that OP is having problems with the men OP chooses, thus denial isn't an option anymore.

So therapy + hypnosis = bullshit, therapy alone maybe, maybe not depends on the therapy and the client. Only anonymous can tell what kind of therapy and for how long will be helpful.
posted by xetere at 9:11 AM on March 27, 2007

Another point about recovered memories - what is recovered is almost certainly not a memory. Consider this (sorry if it's too chatty for AskMe, you can burn me at the stake later):

Did you watch the news on 9-11? Which anchor did you watch, or which ones did you see? Maybe Brokaw, Jennings or Rather, maybe you flipped around, whatever. I bet you remember vividly who you watched, right? Maybe you ever remember with uncanny accuracy some of the more chilling things they said right?

Do you remember what color or pattern tie they were wearing? Probably not. But when you recall the memory, when you picture Brokaw in your mind saying the things you remember him saying, he's wearing a tie, isn't he? What color is that tie, in your mind's eye?

Why does your memory supply a tie, when you know you don't remember it? Do you really think that tie that you are picturing in the recalled memory has any relationship whatsoever to the actual tie he wore?

You know he wore a tie because news anchors always wear ties. You do not have a memory of the tie, so your mind fills it in. The memory seems more accurate with an imagined tie than missing a tie that you don't remember. In other words, wrong info makes for a more seemingly accurate memory than a memory that only includes what is remembered and nothing else.

We don't really understand how memory works, how its stored, or how experiences is filtered to store only what we need to.

Let me give you a hypothetical case. You watched this creepy porno, that's seems certain in your mind. Perhaps a night or two later, you had a nightmare about it that you do not remember, but as a 5-yr old, you woke up crying. So your dad lumbers into your room half asleep, gives you a hug, and lies down next to you so you'll go back to sleep.

Now, in the context of an impressionable 5-yr old girl exposed to violent sexual imagery who had a nightmare recalling it, and is only sort of half awake to find herself being held by a relatively gigantic man who stays in her bed, you don't think there is a chance that the recalled memory decades later is going to conflate reality with the dream? In other words, you never remembered this incident with any detail, but perhaps you remember having the nightmare. Now, decades later, you 'recall' the memory of your dad being their and holding you and doing the weird sex stuff that was in your dream. Of course, this is all hypothetical.

An interesting side question here is whether that actually matters. If you are convinced that you were molested, but were not in fact, shouldn't you be treated as if you were in fact molested, but with the insight that your mind may have played a trick on you?

Back to the point - see a regular shrink and start with what you actually remember. I haven't even addressed how you managed to see this kind of a movie, or whether you knew who it belonged to and what that made you think of that person.

To Ynoxas - it is almost assuredly NOT this remembered porno. It would be hard for a 5 year old to put even a violent porno into context.

I disagree with that. Some things that are seen cannot be unseen. Like you said, she had no context for that film, but her mind created one, because the mind cannot remember anything without a context for it, and hers clearly remembered this. It may have colored how she saw her parents relationship in strange ways - perhaps mom and dad had an innocent argument and all the while her subconscious is integrating that with some imagined violent sex that they must have (because when she's five all of hat she knows about sex is violent).

Or worse. Suppose it's not dad, but a random string of mom's boyfriends who drank and yelled and got mildly rough, throwing things, etc. (Don't mean to insult your parents here, I'm just speaking in hypotheticals)

You don't think that the mind that saw violent porn at age five that now regularly sees non-sexual violent men in real life is going to conclude that to have intimacy with men requires violence and as a corollary, that a lack of violence in a relationship means lack of intimacy?

(Sidebar: when people say porn is bad because kids might get it, this is what they are talking about)

That said, some kids are tougher, for lack of a better word, than others. One kid sees freaky porno, gets scared, and then forgets it. Another dwells on it.

So, yes, the porno probably had a very big impact on you (you mention flashbacks to it, and it made enough of an impression that here you are asking us about it), but more important than that is to understand what it did to how you saw relationships then, and how it prevented you from seeing relationships the way normal, non-porn-exposed kids did, so you can start to see the patterns your behavior today falls into and how those patterns can be deconstructed and rebuilt (through a tremendous about of conscious effort, unfortunately).

I guess this rambling mess didn't address your question. In short (too late) don't screw around with your memory, and don't hire other people to do it either. Start with the facts as you know them right now.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:14 AM on March 27, 2007

The question of whether repressed memories exist is controversial, if this thread doesn't make that obvious enough. The wikipedia article, well, it's a wikipedia article, but it does have citations on some of the research if you want to dig further. Although I don't have a citation at hand, I do recall reading very convincing research on the ability of hypnosis to induce false memories, and I think hypnosis as a means to "recover" memories has been pretty firmly debunked.

I'd say go to therapy and focus on the things about your life that you are not happy with here or now. This past issue will certainly come up but it may or may not end up being a big factor in the therapy. As far as seeking a therapist, I personally went with recommendations from friends but you might not want that route. Honestly, I'd say start with seeking someone accessible, both geographically and monetarily, and go from there. The right relationship is everything but it's hard to gauge that in advance. If you need some sort of specialist an ordinary therapist will have resources to help direct you to a more likely person. It's easy to put off, though, so I think just getting the ball rolling is a good idea.
posted by nanojath at 9:59 AM on March 27, 2007

hermitosis, I'm curious as to whether you can produce any proper research indicating that there is any validity to using hypnosis to stimulate memory. This is seriously asked, I'm not trying to call you out, but I was under the impression that the bottom line of legitimate research was reflected by (for example) the statement in this article - that "while there is little or no evidence that hypnosis enhances accurate recollection, hypnosis does appear to increase false recollection, or illusory memories." There is not really any room in that assessment for asserting the value of hypnosis in assisting recollection.
posted by nanojath at 10:11 AM on March 27, 2007

What klangklangston said - I say this only b/c I spent the weekend with a psychiatrist who is studying hypnosis as a method of therapy, and our conversations made it seem more like a suggestive thing as opposed to a method of recovering memories (e.g. but someone into a "trance" in order to suggest that they be more positive, etc.).

MY one piece of advice is that if you do consider hypnosis as a method of therapy, please make sure that the person you're seeing is well trained (e.g. not someone who has just read a book on hypnosis or even just attended one seminar).
posted by echo0720 at 10:34 AM on March 27, 2007

IANAH, and I don't have any research. I have only once undergone hypnosis, and not in pursuit of any memory recovery.

However, I have used self-hypnosis techniques, and have become regularly amazed to discover how easily almost all my memories can be recalled. Experiences from my childhood, even completely mundane ones, are available in incredible detail. Many of these are memories that I would never have a reason to recall ever again, and if asked "Have you ever...?" I might even say no, because I don't automatically remember. But given the opportunity to use these techniques, I can surprise myself. Memories that normally seem scattered suddenly fall into their proper sequence. If there is something have difficulty remembering, I simply recall details on all sides of it, spending a lot of time setting up the scenario until I find my way to the heart of it. When those memories emerge, they aren't (in my case) false at all. They are often just pieces of time lost to indifference or avoidance that I can now look at from a new perspective. It feels wonderful.

It's not about stimulating memory, it's about quieting external influences and background noise so that I have unfettered access to parts of my mind that haven't seen the light of day in many years. It can be painful and upsetting, but afterward I am always grateful. It is better to know.

I know this isn't a technical description, nor should it be considered a defense of hypnotherapy. But as I have firsthand experience of using hypnosis to push back the cuticles of my own memory, I might as well offer it.
posted by hermitosis at 10:47 AM on March 27, 2007

since I don't remember it very clearly it can't have had too much of an impact

This, or something else you don't quite recall, had some sort of impact on forming your future sexual attitudes. Everyone has things in their early life that have some sort of impact this way, everyone. That you don't remember it does not mean much (do you remember learning to walk?).

I question that one needs to go back and remember everything to deal with one's current life. You need to integrate your experiences with your current thoughts and behavior in a healthy way. You can do this without remembering the past. Find yourself a good therapist to help you with where your life is now.

Going a bit beyond your question, you might consider if you would be attracted to a guy who is nice to you in general, and into BDSM in bed (or on the flogging horse). Basically, consensual sexual aggressiveness.
posted by yohko at 11:01 AM on March 27, 2007

Hermitosis, and I don't say this to be mean, but it sounds much more likely that you have enough of an imagination to fabricate memories that are satisfying than the physical ability to recall long-supressed memories.
posted by klangklangston at 11:03 AM on March 27, 2007

So you're saying that not only am I wrong, but that I don't really remember my life as only I myself experienced it?

Does what I describe completely exclude your own philosophy or known human experience to the point where you must rationalize it by impugning the very substance of my identity?

I'm asking with incredulity, not anger. Because I can't really tell whether or not to laugh in your face. You're saying that once something is effectively forgotten for years, it is never able to be remembered again, and if one does somehow wind up remembering it, one cannot trust that the recollection isn't pure invention?

So, um, to clarify: everything that I remember happening to me has in fact happened to me. Maybe I should start prefacing all my posts with this.
posted by hermitosis at 11:56 AM on March 27, 2007

"So you're saying that not only am I wrong, but that I don't really remember my life as only I myself experienced it?"

Yup. I'm saying that is a widely-recognized problem with human memory— that memories get reinvented as time passes. Hence the trouble with eye-witness accounts, or memories of childhood. Your mind now fills in the gaps to make memories plausible.

Does this mean that all of your memories are false? I'm not going to go that far down the road into sollipsism. Are some of them? That's incredibly likely.

"Does what I describe completely exclude your own philosophy or known human experience to the point where you must rationalize it by impugning the very substance of my identity?"

Climb down offa the cross. Did you bother to read what I wrote? It is much more likely that, to cop the example from above, you'll remember a tie and have your mind supply it than actually remember the substance of a tie.

"You're saying that once something is effectively forgotten for years, it is never able to be remembered again, and if one does somehow wind up remembering it, one cannot trust that the recollection isn't pure invention?"

Somewhat, though I'd certainly not argue that everything is invented, or that events didn't occur. But you can only be more or less certain that any given recollection is what happened.

"So, um, to clarify: everything that I remember happening to me has in fact happened to me. Maybe I should start prefacing all my posts with this."

No, likely not. But there's no way for you to know for sure on any given memory without immutable documentation, and much of what you remember will be best-guess cobblings. Sorry if this shakes your firmly held beliefs or whatever, but maybe you should watch Rashamon sometime.
posted by klangklangston at 1:17 PM on March 27, 2007

Is there any validity or reliability to using hypnosis to explore forgotten memories?

Probably only anecdotally from people who have tried it and been pleased with the results. But not in any grand scale sense of validity and reliability.

The "recovered memory" fad that has been mentionned really hurt the perception of its validity. People were made to recall abductions, sexual abuse, satanic ritual abuse, that never happened. Not necessarily by any harmful intent on the hypnotist's part, but because the patients were reacting to the hypnotists' own pet theories ('all your problems are due to forgotten sexual abuse', 'there are vast satanic cults doing all sorts of horrible things', etc).

Memory isn't like an archive of video reels that can be accessed and revealed with 100% fidelity. Movies and TV shows that you've watched, books that you've read, people you've interacted with can all colour the recall of past memories. I'm not saying what you or hermitosis remember didn't happen, just that generally speaking memory isn't as high-fidelity as people think.

As far as picking a therapist... they should be licensed (doesn't necessarily mean they're great, but it's a start). You can ask them if they've dealt with similar problems before. You could check the psych departments of nearby universities, the clinical / research interests of the various professors are usually listed. If one of them is involved in an area that meshes well with your situation, they might be able to recommend someone in private practice.

If you get in touch with a good therapist, they'll help you effect change regardless of whether what you recall did or didn't happen. There's probably also other contributing factors to your relationship choices than the recalled porno.
posted by CKmtl at 1:31 PM on March 27, 2007

The problem is, as this thread amply demonstrates, that the status of 'memories-recovered-under-hypnosis' is deeply suspect. They may or may not be real, however real they seem, and there is often no way of knowing. Therefore you may be increasing your net sum of unhappiness rather than reducing it.

All of us have false memories. I have perfect recollection of watching the Sex Pistols on Blue Peter in 1975. The fact that it didn't happen only makes it more piquant.
posted by unSane at 1:52 PM on March 27, 2007

I'm just saying that it's a pretty handy and dismissive argument to drop on someone, "Oh, you don't really remember that. You just think you do."

I don't know why you keep styling me as a protesting martyr. That implies persecution, and it is certainly bafflement I feel instead. If it's because I don't back down in the face of whatever oversimplified argument you decide to prop up as the Final Say on the matter, then I guess there aren't many other roles for me to play here.

I did not imply that my memories contain objective truth, so keep your Rashomon in your pants. They are just as subjective and one-sided as anyone else's. But I can remember them in incredible detail as I experienced them at the time. Usually the greatest detail is found in the actual objects or events I was focusing on at the time, and the rest of the background (such as whether or not any ties were being worn) is filled in by imagination. So I am basically able to recall the memories as I experienced them, with the subjectively important parts for the most part intact. And by that I mean I become able to remember them about as clearly as I remember things that happened last week. It's not "high-fidelity" or cinematic or anything else; it is simply a memory that had been set aside as unimportant, the status of which I can voluntarily change if I put the proper effort into it.

All of this is totally pointless with regards to the original question. I actually feel pretty bad that AskMe has provided such clammy answers in response to a person's very personal and obviously intensely troubling problem. "You don't remember what you think you do. And even if you do, it's not important," is pretty lame.
posted by hermitosis at 1:57 PM on March 27, 2007

Hi, OP. Hope you're still reading.

I don't have any personal recs for therapists in Seattle (if you were in the Other Washington, I could help!), but this page has a long list of Seattle-area therapists; helpfully, they all seem to list their "niche specialty" - sexual abuse, relationship anxiety, dream interpretation, etc.

Don't get discouraged if you don't find one you like right away. If you haven't been in therapy before, know that it's normal to have it take three or four appointments with a therapist to decide if you can work with them. Ideally, you'll find one who will be able/willing to push you (but without forcing you), and who will - to stretch a metaphor - help you learn to read the map (of your life) without leading you down the path.

I'd also say not to worry too much initially about whether or not your memory is "real." At this point, the effect of the (possibly false, possibly not) memory is contributing to your relationship troubles. Either way, good for you for recognizing that you're in a place you don't want to be, and that there's help out there for you.

Good luck.
posted by rtha at 2:17 PM on March 27, 2007

In many jurisdictions, witness testimony based on hypnosis is inadmissable. And there's a good reason for that. It has been shown repeatedly that "recovered memories" are unreliable at best and dangerously prejudicial at worst.
posted by Neiltupper at 5:50 PM on March 27, 2007

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