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Ethical Boundary Considerations and Repressed Memories of Sexual Abuse
On the last track, we discussed the influence of the feminist movement view of rape and sexual abuse and related these issues to and assessment of your personal value system.
On this track, we will examine the effect of false memory generation on innocent so-called perpetrators and the obvious resulting ethical dilemmas.
One of the most tangible victims of false memory generation when it involves sexual abuse are those fathers, mothers, relatives, teachers, etc. who are the accused. Many times, these are family members of the victims and close friends. Generally, there is a gradual process involved when clients come to the conclusion, whether accurate or inaccurate, that their parents are guilty of incest and abuse.
5 Ethics Steps in False Accusations with Repressed Memories
Obviously, the most ethical implication lies on the pivotal point of the therapist's methods. Unfortunately, the use of such vulnerable state-inducing exercises, such as hypnotism, has been proven to increase the risk of false memory generation.
5 Steps In Incest Accusation
Step 1: Suggestion by the Therapist
By immediately expecting a sexual abuse client, the therapist can find many symptoms that relate and support his or her theory. However, these symptoms can commonly be the result of another source. Without proper evidence, the sudden conclusion of sexual abuse might be a false one. As a result, the client, taking the therapist as an infallible authority figure, immediately considers that he or she is most likely the survivor of sexual abuse. Once the idea of sexual abuse becomes prevalent in the therapist's and the client's minds, any inclination that supports other ideas only increases your client's confusion.
Step 2: Recovery
Of course this point is open for debate. This is especially true when the client has been inundating themselves with thoughts of sexual abuse and ways to discover if there truly was any such abuse in their childhood. If such is the case and hypnosis is used to recover memories, the therapist has a more likely chance of fabricating memories than of retrieving true memories of sexual abuse or rape. This leads to the unfortunate result found in the next stage, creating a list of suspects.
Step 3: Suspicion
Without sufficient consultation over the client's family status, any advice given could result in eronious conclusions. This list can range from close friends of the family to baby-sitters, teachers, coaches, and finally family members themselves. It is usually not until a few of these candidates have been ruled out that the client begins to consider his or her parent as a suspect of abuse.
Steps 4 & 5: Confrontation
These well-implanted ideas have become the client's new reality. When a person goes through such a tumultuous change in their world around them, any persons who try to challenge this new ideal are viewed with mistrust. The client then separates themselves from any person that would contradict their new reality.
Ethics - Client's Damage to Themselves
One way of looking at this scenario is Support groups that recognize the efficacy of repressed memories fuel the client's need for dependency and weakens their ability to live life fully without the prop of therapy. As you know, termination is a necessary step in the full recovery of a client. Without this stage, the client cannot live a healthy, happy, and most importantly, independent lifestyle.
On this track, we discussed effect of false memory generation on the innocent so-called perpetrators.
The False Memory Syndrome: Experimental Studies
- Mendez, M., & Fras, I. (2011). The false memory syndrome: Experimental studies and comparison to confabulations. Medical Hypotheses, 76(4), 492-496. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2010.11.033
Ethics CEU QUESTION
So, quite an ethical bind or dilemma is this whole picture of repressed memory recovery and sexual abuse. Here is a summation of the pros and the cons regarding the ethical tightrope you must walk.
Dilemma #1. In track one we discussed how your client may come to you inundated with a plethora of self help sexual abuse predisposition via books, talk show, ec. If you don't support them in their ideas of sexual abuse you jeopardize the therapeutic alliance. Suggestion ask your self how to what degree are the basing their ideas of sexual abuse upon media description rather than actual memories?
Dilemma #2. On the second track we discussed the ethical dilemma of the possible temptation to abandon a consciously untruthful client when you discover you have been manipulated perhaps if he or she is a custody seeking parent to create a false diagnosis of sexual abuse of their spouse. How do you continue therapy with a mother who has intentionally duped you regarding falsified sexual abuse by her ex-husband without violating the ethical boundary of client abandonment? A suggestion here would be to receive peer support or counseling, regarding venting you possible feelings of hostility, anger, etc.
Dilemma #3. On the third track, The strength of the scientific evidence for repression depends on exactly how the term is defined. When defined narrowly as intentional suppression of an experience, there is little reason to doubt that it exists. But when we talk about a repression mechanism that operates unconsciously and defensively to block out traumatic experiences, there is no scientific evidence to substantiate the efficicacy of repressed memory. A suggestion ask yourself are their any other factors besides repressed memories, susch as conversations with siblings or other that may substantiate the abuse.
#4. The fourth track almost totally invalidates the claims of sexual abuse
you would receive by any of your co-dependant client. The ethical dilemma is the
co-dependant client may be such a people pleaser that any hint you may give of
sexual abuse could be tantamount to an unethical practice for implanting false
sexual memories. On the other hand, co-dependent clients need support and reassurance.
It is hoped this CD and course has
provided you with concrete tools to replay each of these tracks, reproduce this
CD, and share with your colleagues.
This CD has covered
such topics as: False memories generated, convinced clients, both sides of the
debate, group mentality, new age mentality, neo-feminist movement, and the accused
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