On March 28, 1997, someone in Syracuse, N.Y. went into a Media Play store in Shoppingtown Mall and bought a book. I know, because a few weeks ago, I went into a thrift store in North Syracuse and picked it up for a dollar. It is in like-new condition, and inside the front cover is a light blue post-it note filled with hand-written notes and page numbers. Whoever bought it had also left the receipt in it. I have been trying to picture who this person could be, and what compelled them to buy it in the first place, and then get rid of it? Client or clinician? Someone I’ve sat next to in church, or worked with?
The book is Understanding the False Memory Crisis and How It Could Affect You, by Dr. Paul Simpson. To someone who has lost a large piece of my life to False Memory Syndrome, this book was a God-send. Unless you’ve been through it, it’s impossible to describe, much less explain, leaving virtually no one to talk to who can understand or help. In fact, until I bought the book, I had felt completely alone with all of this. I have no idea how many other people in Syracuse have been through anything similar, or who have had a problem after going to counseling, either to the church or to a professional in the community.
What I like about the book is that Dr. Simpson writes with both humility and grace, towards both counselor and client. He also used to be one of those who not only helped people recover from ‘memories’ that they had ‘repressed’ but trained others how to do it, too. Until, like I did, he noticed things just didn’t seem right, and the stories weren’t lining up with reality. This is the beginning of the way out.
And, as he states in the book, once he realized that he was unintentionally contributing to the problem, he called his former clients and invited them to come back at no expense to them in order to unravel and clear up the mess, and help them heal. This, to me, is the epitome of professionalism. It takes a great deal of humility to do this, not to mention compassion. It takes grace.
It’s a very well written book, and I’m grateful to have found it. I truly believe God led me to it, as part of my own healing, which has been a slow and solitary journey, due to the fact that we seem to have quite a few counselors in Onondaga county who still practice some type of ‘recovered memory’ therapy. Most people don’t know what I’m talking about, and can’t help. Some of our local Christian therapists and counselors still believe in repressed memories, dissociative disorders, and/or Satanic Ritual Abuse. Quite a few of the churches and para-church ministries in the area practice ‘deliverance’ counseling, or Theophostics, and some still use books and practices found in Neil T. Anderson’s The Bondage Breaker. (The original book I finally objected to at the Chapel, thus ending my ‘counseling’ with the elder’s wife there.)
I don’t believe anyone intentionally caused harm, including my pastoral counselor. She did not (in my own personal experience with her) practice the kind of therapy Dr. Simpson describes in the book. All she did – unintentionally and sincerely (I believe) – was to build on a foundation that had already been laid, long before I met her, in counseling I had received from others since high school. My own confusion and exhaustion at the time didn’t help.
So, we’ll see where it leads. All I know is that on a recent snowy day in Syracuse, I walked into a store and bought grace.
Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. ~ Psalm 124:7-8