Destructive Delusions

Dalrymple discusses Try to Remember by Paul R. McHugh, M.D. in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Our lives are more deeply affected by science and technology than ever before, but that does not mean that we are more rational than our forefathers in our everyday conduct. Superstition springs eternal in the human mind, or gut, and the fact that Charles Mackay’s great book, “Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds,” published in 1843, should be so pertinent to our current economic situation proves it.

One of the most extraordinary outbreaks of popular delusion in recent years was that which attached to the possibility of “recovered memory” of sexual and satanic childhood abuse, and to an illness it supposedly caused, Multiple Personality Disorder. No medieval peasant praying to a household god for the recovery of his pig could have been more credulous than scores of psychiatrists, hosts of therapists and thousands of willing victims. The whole episode would have been funny had it not been so tragic.

Read the full essay

One thought on “Destructive Delusions

  1. Anne Russell PhD

    This is what happened to my oldest and beloved daughter in 1989, by a Raleigh psychologist. His “therapy” destroyed our family circle, her excellent relationship with me her mother, and after 20 years she is totally estranged from all of us, is addicted to prescription medications, has destroyed her career, is 3x divorced, has harmed her 2 children greatly, and she still believes this total fiction. It has become her identity, and her life is one of revenge and hatred for things that never happened. Thank you for your article. I wish somehow you could break through our daughter’s delusions,for she once was a wonderful person of whom I was very, very proud.
    Wilmington NC


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