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Del Morrill, M.S. C.C.H


A Center for Counseling & Hypnosis
Tacoma, Washington, USA
(253) 752-1506

Recovered Memories -- Are they Real or Imagined?

I would like to share a response I made recently to a question from a colleague about how to tell whether the incest her client suddenly remembered is "real" or "imagined." I'm sharing this because I'd be interested in hearing from others as to their understandings and experiences with the whole issue of so-called "false memory syndrome." (There surely is a better name for it!?) Here's how I come at this issue:

In a followng session, after such a revelation is made, I speak to the one who actually experienced it. That is, the child of that particular age becomes my client. I give the inner child of that particular age--assuming it happened in childhood--assurance that they are now grown up and safe from ever having to have that experience again. You must assure them that nothing bad will happen to them if they tell. In other words, you have that hypnotic spell to break first.

Once I am assured by the child that they feel safe to tell, I then ask them to explain just what happened, assuring them that they are now like a reporter retelling the truth of a real event. (Avoid using the word "story", since that can be interpreted differently by a child, i.e. a fairy tale.) I do this about three different times, twice in that session to assure myself that the information is accurate, and again in the next session. Too often a child can misinterpret events (being cuddled by a Daddy they are devoted to), or even express what their own hidden wishes are (I wish I were like Mommy with Daddy, or I wish I were married to Daddy), when there was no real incest.

Of course, it is exceedingly important NEVER to ask any question that is in any way leading, and never ask if there was incest involved, or if "daddy" touched them in the wrong way, or any other such question, for this can implant the very suggestion as "reality." It may be boring, but the tried and true questions of "What's happening?" "And then what happened?" are still your best bets at getting at the truth of an incident.

Also, I check out whether I am speaking to the child of THIS lifetime or another lifetime. If so, the child of that previous lifetime becomes my "client." I check, as well, on whether I am speaking to the person sitting in my chair or another spirit who has joined that person. If this is the case, then that spirit becomes my client. In essence, I could be working with multiple clients at once--the current adult, the current child self, the past life child or adult, or the spirit child or adult. In the case of spirit attachment, it is not unusual for another energy or soul force who has experienced some type of abuse either to want the comfort of another, or desire to provide comfort to another person, especially during childhood. If such is the case, then the spirit needs to understand that, although it is appreciated for what it tried to do, it is time to move on to their own new life. Their duty to this client is now over. This client is now safe. I follow such a dialogue with some "Rituals of Light" that I have put together out of Baldwin and Fiore's works. (These will be included in GREAT ESCAPES, Volume IV, to be published in 2001.)

I believe that sometimes when people have such experiences come to light we cannot always be sure that it is the experience of this particular lifetime or this particular client. If this is so, then it might explain why there are accusations of abuse in which the so-called abuser insists that absolutely nothing like that happened. Whatever the outcome, whether incest or misinterpretation, you are dealing with the child's perceptions and must operate accordingly. You free the child from that experience, and release them from any fear and guilt. This is true whether the memory is real to them, or it never happened!

If you suspect that it never really happened, then you still must give assurance to the little child that he/she is indeed good, and now grown up. Everything else is simply a memory of the past. It can now take its rightful place as simply thoughts that have no continued power over them. Remember, that inner "personality" or "particular-age child within" doesn't realize that it has grown up. Whatever it feels is happening right then, over and over again. There is no concept of time in the subconscious self. You have to help that part of the person understand that time has changed, and that he/she is safe to move on.

There is no concept of time in the subconscious self--so you have to help that part of the person understand that time has changed. Whatever you do, it is not your place to encourage a person to confront their family about such an incident. I have been aware of too many cases where doing so has simply split the family apart, or alienated the client forever from their parents. Usually the parents and others of the family won't believe it anyway--or continue to be in denial. They will turn on the client, banding against her/him, often making their life more miserable than ever. Personally, I don't see where this helps the client, for it only makes them feel more alienated and abandoned than ever.

It is important, I believe, that any person dealing further with this issue (should it be, in fact, a true experience) needs to have assistance by someone who is also a skilled counselor. Counseling tools are a great help for many issues surrounding such memories.

Too often a hypnotherapist who has had just basic skills finds themselves over their heads in trying to assist a person with deeper problems than giving up particular habits or preparing them for exams, etc. It is important to know one's limitations, as well as in what areas they are most skilled themselves. From the beginning of my work in using hypnosis in my counseling practice, I have built a network of counselors and hypnotherapists in my area to whom I can refer my clients. I have done this, not only by face-to-face meetings, but by using the telephone to ask questions of counselors and hypnotherapists. These include finding out their specialties, prices, whether they do sliding scales, take insurance, etc. I also ask whether they use hypnosis in their practice. This information is listed in such a way that I can readily call up whomever I need for particular issues that I am unable or unwilling to deal with.




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