"I Don't Remember but My Therapist Says"

Ken Scribner

Psychology the Trojan horse of mental health.

Both psychologists and psychiatrists claim to help many people solve their problems. And no doubt they do help some. But close observation shows modern psychotherapy to be such a mixture of truth and error that it is dangerous to trust it. Different practitioners propose scores of different theories, all vying for supremacy. The resulting message is garbled. We would be wiser to avoid dabbling in it. The taproot of psychology is not the Bible. The root is at odds with the Bible and its all-wise Author. Let me show you why I am so critical. You will see that others are much more so.

Damaging criticisms. Let’s listen to some of psychology’s vocal critics, many of whom are not Christians. A significant number of practitioners from the secular area raise some of the strongest objections. Themselves immersed in psychiatry and psychology, they know what they are talking about. Here are a few quotations:

Dr. Szasz, widely read author and psychiatrist, says, "Psychiatry is probably the single most destructive force that has affected the American society within the last 50 years."1

Lee Coleman, M.D., another psychiatrist, says, "Psychiatrists have no valid scientific tools or expertise."2

Dr. Tana Dineen, a psychologist: "Psychology presents itself as a concerned and caring profession working for the good of its clients, but the effects are damaged people, divided families, distorted justice, destroyed companies, and a weakened nation. Behind the benevolent facade is a self-serving industry that offers ‘facts’ which are often unfounded, provides ‘therapy’ which can be damaging, and exerts influence which is having devastating effects on society. …What seemed once a responsible profession is now a big business whose success is directly related to how many people become ‘users.’"3

Dr. Martin and Deidra Bobgan: "No greater issue faces the modern, true Church than this Trojan horse of psychology. It has a stranglehold that will not be easily loosened."4

Seth Farber, Ph.D., a practicing psychologist for 16 years, explains why he quit: "I did not know when I first became a Christian that the development of my understanding of the meaning and implications of my Christian faith would eventually lead me to a crossroads where I would have to choose between two masters–between the mental health professions and Christianity, between the mental (health) religion and Jesus Christ. But this is what has occurred, and I have made my choice."5

Other reasons for distrust. Every few years, it seems, a new "all-encompassing" theory or therapy pops up which, we are assured, explains our problems and how to cure them. Sometimes what is proposed is in fact a new theory, at other times it is just a rehash of an old theory that didn’t work then, but we’re told, will now, with a new twist that guarantees success. Proponents of these psychological theories would love to have them promoted as truly scientific, because society tends to trust anything they think is scientific.


Seth Farber, the converted psychologist we met a moment ago, wrote in 1999, "‘Science’ has become the Gucci label of the Psychology Industry."6 Pursuing a similar thought Sigmund Koch wrote, "The hope of a psychological science became indistinguishable from the fact of psychological science. The entire subsequent history of psychology can be seen as the ritualistic endeavor to emulate the forms of science in order to sustain the delusion that it already is a science."7 Psychology is actually junk science says Margaret Hagen, who defines junk science as "the mirror image of real science, with much of the same form but none of the same substance."8



"Psychology is (actually) a religion trying to pass itself off as a science."9 Many believe that if they go to a "Christian" psychologist the danger is not present, but sadly that is not true. A Christian counselor who fails to base his/her counseling on the Scriptures is no better than those who reject the Bible outright. At times they are more dangerous because they believe in a devil and thus are open for the deceptions found in Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA).

People see psychology as an instrument of healing but, as Jay Adams makes plain, "Any system that proposes to solve human problems apart from the Bible and the power of the Holy Spirit (as all of these pagan systems, including the self-worth system, do) is automatically condemned by Scripture itself."10

I am not questioning the motives of counselors. I am trying to give a clear warning of the dangers of psychology’s message. That danger is real and present. The warning should not be soft-peddled!

While modern psychology and psychiatry were still in baby clothes Ellen White wrote, "This entering in of Satan through the sciences is well devised. Through the channel of phrenology, psychology, and mesmerism, he comes more directly to the people of this generation, and works with that power which is to characterize his efforts near the close of probation. The minds of thousands have thus been poisoned, and led into infidelity. While it is believed that one human mind so wonderfully affects another, Satan, who is ready to press every advantage, insinuates himself, and works on the right hand and on the left. And while those who are devoted to these sciences laud them to the heavens because of the great and good works which they affirm are wrought by them, they little know what a power for evil they are cherishing; but it is a power which will yet work with all signs and lying wonders—with all deceivableness of unrighteousness. Mark the influence of these sciences, dear reader, for the conflict between Christ and Satan is not yet ended." (Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 351)

I believe Ellen White was using the term science in a very general manner. Her warning message dealing with psychology is right on target. There was a good reason why she associated it with phrenology and mesmerism.



One of the greatest fiascoes that has ever come out of the psychological world in years is the theory of recovered or repressed memories (RC/RM) False Memory Syndrome (FMS). These are "memories" that have primarily arisen as a result of therapy or the reading of self-help books on sexual abuse. No memories of abuse were there prior. "Throughout the past decade or so, (this) shock wave has been sweeping across North American (Australia, the United Kingdom, etc.) psychotherapy, and in the process causing major repercussions within our families, courts, and hospitals. A single diagnosis for miscellaneous complaints--that of unconsciously repressed sexual abuse in childhood--has grown in this brief span from virtual nonexistence to epidemic frequency."11

A good question to ask is Why would anyone believe something so painful as being sexually abused by a parent or trusted friend if it wasn’t true? I believe there are several reasons. Here are a few: the feminist movement, people desiring to have an excuse for present behavior, and focusing on the past. And another: the chance to benefit from a large legal settlement. See Wassil-Grimm12 for 16 more reasons. 

The nightmare of Laura Pasley. "Laura Pasley 39, a secretary in the Dallas Police Department, sought therapy for her bulimia and was told that all eating disorders spring from repressed memories of child sex abuse. Using hypnosis and dream analysis, her therapist soon persuaded her that she had been abused by her mother, father, grandfather, and a neighbor and that her brother once tried to kill her. …When she tried to tell her therapist that certain horrible events had not happened, he shook his head, insisting she was ‘in denial’ and only trying to protect her family."13

Hopefully this FMS epidemic will not arise again to the extreme it did in the 1980s and '90s. Its destructive force left in its wake close to two million14 broken homes. And this therapy is still being practiced by some therapists. Many of the accused have lost their jobs simply for being accused. The most thoroughly researched book on the FMS issue, Victims of Memory by Mark Pendergrast, estimates that "since the hunt for repressed memories came to full flower in 1988, several million have come to believe they are ‘Survivors.’ Each represents shattered lives and destroyed families. If two and a half million women identify themselves as ‘Survivors,’ then one out of every 25 families has been affected."15 How many SDA families have been impacted?

"Therapists use a number of techniques that purportedly assist survivors of childhood sexual abuse to make contact with their lost memories of abuse. These techniques include age regression (a form of hypnosis), body memory interpretation, hypersuggestive questioning, guided visualization, dream interpretation, and sodium amytal."16 Psychodrama (an acting out exercise) is thought to be helpful, but the benefits are questionable. There are many self-help books which promote this deceptive theory. Marilyn Van Derbur Atler, Miss America 1958, after years of therapy came up with memories of abuse in 1991. But note carefully what she went through to "recover" those memories. "Years of psychotherapy,…100 deep massages, over 100 rolfing sessions (a type of deep massage), 60 acupuncture sessions, acupressure, perhaps 50 sessions of hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming, dance therapy, bioenergetics, self-defense therapy."17

It may be appropriate here to say that sexual abuse does happen and it does take place in Christian homes more often than we like to admit. We are not talking about abuse that has always been remembered. Rather it is the Recovered Memory of sexual abuse that is our concern. This devastating therapy hurts not only the person "repressed" but also those who have been truly abused. Many of the RM stories are so fantastic that they cannot be believed. When this happens the individuals who have been truly abused and have always remembered their abuse are also brought into question. The truly abused are then less likely to say anything for fear of not being believed.


A source to which a person who has been abused could go for help and encouragement would be welcome. In the area of incest there is one book which has gained the title "incest survivor’s bible." It is The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse,18 by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis, 1988. The title sounds great. But its message cannot be recommended! It would be better to call it "The Devil’s Handbook for Breaking-up Families." One of our own publishing companies has promoted it. See the Epilogue Bibliography in Sins of the Father19 by Marianne Morris. Two other pamphlets entitled "Help for the Person Who Has Been Sexually Abused"20 and "Ministering to the Sexually Abused"21 are very questionable reading. They have no place in a Christian’s library.

Note a few of the positions taken by the two authors Bass and Davis. Note also their very strong support and promotion of lesbianism. Then ask, "Is this a book I would want a therapist to recommend to my daughter or wife?" The quotes are listed by page and paragraph for quick reference.

22.5: "If you think you were abused and your life shows the symptoms, then you were."

22.5: "So far, no one we’ve talked to thought she might have been abused, and then later discovered that she hadn’t been."

46:6: "Survivors have developed psychic abilities from their sensitivity."

73:8: "Another way to regain memory is through regression. Under the guidance of a trustworthy therapist, it is possible to go back to earlier times." (Here the authors speak of a form of hypnotism.)

82, 83: "So I’m going with the circumstantial evidence, and I’m working on healing myself."

122, subhead: "Anger: The Backbone of Healing"

128:3: "You may dream of murder or castration. It can be pleasurable to fantasize such scenes in vivid detail.…Let yourself imagine it to your heart’s content."

134.0: "You may want to see them suffer. You may want revenge.…Be clear that whatever you do, you are doing it for yourself."

143:6: "This woman probably would not have actually killed her father, but it felt good to think about it."

150:1: "Many women try desperately to forgive.… As Ellen [Bass] says in her worships, ‘Why should you?’"

268.6: "Being a lesbian is a perfectly healthy way to be."

268.6: "If I am a lesbian because I was abused, at least something good came out of it."

346:4: "If you were not sexually abused as a child, explore those experiences in your history that come closest."

I have left some statements out because of their vulgarity. I repeat my earlier question: "Is this material that you want a therapist to give your daughter or your wife to read?"

I believe the danger is clearly evident, and yet this is a book among many that promote the so-called recovered memory theory. The results speak for themselves. The Courage to Heal is not a book for those who need healing from abuse. Its philosophy is completely anti-Christian and deadly to a healthy mentality. It should not be recommended to anyone who is struggling! Is it simplistic to encourage a friend to seek Christ in prayer and pray with them for help? I don’t think so.



Sue Blume’s Secret Survivors, lists some 250 "signs" of sexual abuse.22 Other authors extend the list of symptoms close to 900. The lists include low self-esteem, "feeling crazy," inability to take risks, taking risks, eating disorders, wearing baggy clothes, phobias, depression, anger issues, fear of dark, desire to change one’s name, admitting that at sometime you were abused, denying that you were ever abused. The list is so generic that every single person could claim abuse and every relative and friend could be accused of abusing them.

Individuals are told not to say, "I wasn’t abused," but, "I don’t remember being abused," which leaves the door open to possible memories which may arise in therapy. Some of these memories would be laughable if it were not that a life is being destroyed by this deceptive therapy.



Using statistics gathered by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, Paul Simpson reveals some alarming figures:

97% of patients were women.

97% were Caucasian.

87% received their first "memories of abuse" while in therapy.

7 months the average age of the first "recalled" abuse (lowered from 3 years of age in 1988).

100% were still in therapy 3 years after the first "memory." 60% were still in therapy 5 years after the first "memory."

10% prior to recovered memory therapy exhibited suicidal ideas or attempts,

67% after therapy began.

10% had been hospitalized prior to therapy,

37% were hospitalized after therapy began

3% had engaged in self-mutilation before therapy,

27% after therapy began.

83% were employed prior to therapy,

10% were still employed after therapy.

77% were married prior to therapy,

48% were divorced or separated 3 years later.

23% lost custody of their children after therapy.

100% after therapy began were estranged from their extended family.

$2,672 was the average cost to the Crime Victim Compensation Program to pay for treatment of patients that did not involve recovered memories.

$12,296 was the average cost to the Crime Victim Compensation Program to pay for treatment of patients that did involve recovered memories.23

28% of therapists believe "hypnosis can be used to recover accurate memories of past lives."24

54% of therapists believe that hypnosis can be used to retrieve memories from birth.25



Many will answer, "Of course not. I have never abused anyone, so how can I be accused?" Under normal circumstances this would be enough. But when you are dealing with a subject as sensitive as sexual abuse, you might be surprised. In almost all crimes a person is considered innocent until proved guilty, but with sexual abuse, once a person is accused, the verdict is guilty! Even if the accusations are proved to be false, the stigma of the accusation hangs on and on.

Starting about the mid eighties there was a tremendous jump in cases of SA tied to the "recovery movement." Many psychotherapists got onto the bandwagon for various reasons. No doubt some saw the potential for extended income, others may not have done sufficient homework to see whether the philosophy of "recovered or repressed memory" was even logical. As a result, a terrible disaster is taking place.

Those who are particularly vulnerable to being accused are fathers, grandfathers, uncles, teachers, ministers, and anyone else who works with young people. With repressed memory therapy the accusations don’t normally arise until many years later.



As Adventists we should be the most alert to the devil’s deceptions. We have been warned; but sadly some Adventist therapists have supported this type of therapy. We have had numerous individuals within our denomination who have been accused via RM therapy. This type of therapy is a convenient tool in the hands of those who wish to remove a person from employment. Scientific evidence has been lacking, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that the accusation alone can get a person fired/released from denominational employment. This is sad! As Christians we of all people need to make sure that what a person is accused of is factual before any action is taken. Never should we label a person a sexual abuser if the evidence is lacking. And if true, we need not air dirty laundry in public. Except for the grace of God, everyone’s laundry could be written in the sky for all to read. Those who have had to pay the price of these false accusations need to be exonerated. If they have been dishonored publicly, is it too much to ask the church to use the same medium to clear their name? We promote fairness, forgiveness, and love. Let’s exemplify it! Remember you could be next.



I have touched only the tip of this iceberg. Much more could be brought out such as Satanic ritual abuse (SRA.), which incidentally is not a result of secular counselors who do not believe in a devil. Another area is Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). People are being encouraged to cater to their "inner child" as it "needs" healing. "Learn to love yourself so you can love others." Past-life regression therapy is also taking place to find out what is bothering a person today.

"As a society we seem hooked on periodic witch-hunting, where common sense gets ditched, the ‘truth’ recklessly improvised and hysteria takes root."26 "Militant feminism stands prominent–albeit not alone–in this sad drama. Its fixed romance of victimhood, anti-male mythologies and the general din of unchallenged misandry have both fed, and fed upon this awful virus."27

We are living in the last days and in the presence of a roaring and deceptive lion! A clear warning sign needs to be placed wherever the psychological world is working. It should read: "Buyer Beware: The value of materials or services you are about to purchase are far over-stated and over-priced, and they have been found to be tainted with a deadly virus. Individuals and their extended families are being torn apart for this world and the next."

This is the message of Paul in Colossians 2:8-10: "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power."



1. Bruce Wiseman, Psychiatry the Ultimate Betrayal (Los Angeles, Calif.: Freedom Publishers, 1995), pp. 6, 7.

2. "Psychiatry Exposes Itself for What It Is!" Essay available on-line at http://www.humanrights@cchr.org.

3. Tana Dineen, Manufacturing Victims: What the Psychology Industry Is Doing to People(Montreal: Robert Davies Pub., 1996), p. 15.

4. Martin and Deidre Bobgan, Prophets of Psychoheresy, vol. 1 (Santa Barbara, Calif.: EastGate Publishers, 1989), p. 14

5. Dineen, p. 137.

6. Seth Farber, Unholy Madness: The Church’s Surrender to Psychiatry (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 11.

7. Sigmund Koch, The American Scholar, vol. 42, no. 4 (Autumn 1973), p. 636, quoted in Are Psychotherapies Coherent Science, or Religious Philosophies? by Sid Galloway, 1997, p. 3.

8. Margaret Hagen, Whores of the Court: The Fraud of Psychiatric Testimony and the Rape of American Justice (New York, N.Y.: Regan Books, 1997), p. 20

9. Dave Hunt, Beyond Seduction: A Return to Biblical Christianity (Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House Pub., 1987), p. 127.

10. Ibid., p. 126.

11. Frederick Crews, et al., The Memory Wars: Freud’s Legacy in Dispute (New York: New York Review of Books, 1995), p. 159.

12. Claudette Wassil-Grimm, Diagnosis for Disaster: The Devastating Truth About False Memory Syndrome and Its Impact on Accusers and Families (Woodstock, N.Y.: The Overlook Press, 1996), pp. 348-350.

13. Martin Gardner, "Notes of a Fringe Watcher, The Tragedies of False Memories," Skeptical Inquirer 18 (Fall 1994), pp. 468, 469.

14. Eleanor Goldstein and Kevin Farmer, True Stories of False Memories (Boca Raton, Fla.: Sirs Publishing, 1993), p. 208.

15. Gladden Shrock, "The Romance of Victimhood," Women’s Freedom Network Newsletter,1995, reprint from Christian News, Feb. 19, 1996, p. 7.

16. Stephen J. Ceci and Maggie Bruck, Jeopardy in the Classroom: A Scientific Analysis of Children’s Testimony (Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 1995), p. 191.

17. Mark Pendergrast, Victims of Memory: Incest Accusations and Shattered Lives (Hinesburg, Va.: Upper Access, 1995), p. 491.

18. Ellen Bass and Laura Davis, The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (New York: Harper & Row, 1988).

19. Marianne Morris, Sins of the Father, epilogue by Carol Cannon (Boise, Idaho: Pacific Press, 1993), p. 223.

20. Deborah Anfenson-Vance, ed., Help for the Person Who has been Sexually Abused(Westlake Village, Calif.: Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1991).

21. Deborah Anfenson-Vance, ed. "Ministering to the Sexually Abused (Westlake Village, Calif.: Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1991).

22. Sue E. Blume, Secret Survivors: Uncovering Incest and Its Aftereffects in Women (New York: Ballantine, 1990), pp. xxvii-xxx.

23. Paul Simpson, Second Thoughts: Understanding the False Memory Crisis and How It Could affect You (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1996), p. 107. Statistics taken from Washington Department of Labor and Industries.

24. Ibid., p. 8.

25. Michael Yapko, Suggestions of Abuse: True and False Memories of Child Sexual Trauma(New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), p. 57.

26. Shrock, p. 7.

27. Ibid.