About the Book


The Repressed Memory Epidemic: How It Happened and What We Need to Learn from It is an academic textbook published by Springer, intended for college and university students as well as professional psychologists, criminologists, sociologists, and American studies specialists.  It is in hardback, an expanded (and more expensive) version of Memory Warp, with a foreword by Christopher Barden, discussion questions, abstracts, an appendix with memory myths/realities, and an appendix with oral history interviews Pendergrast conducted in the 1990s with therapists, "Survivors," the accused, and retractors.

The Repressed Memory Epidemic: How It Happened and What We Need to Learn from It

This book offers a comprehensive overview of the concept of repressed memories. It provides a history and context that documents key events that have had an effect on the way that modern psychology and psychotherapy have developed. Chapters provide an overview of how human memory functions and works and examine facets of the misguided theories behind repressed memory. The book also examines the science of the brain, the reconstructive nature of human memory, and studies of suggestibility. It traces the present-day resurgence of a belief in repressed memories in the general public as well as among many clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, “body workers,” and others who offer counseling. It concludes with legal and professional recommendations and advice for individuals who deal with or have dealt with the psychotherapeutic practice of repressed memory therapy.


Topics featured in this text include:


  •  The modern diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) (once called MPD)
  •  The “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s and its relation to repressed memory therapy.
  •  The McMartin Preschool Case and the “Day Care Sex Panic.”
  •  A historical overview from the Great Witch Craze to Sigmund Freud’s theories, spanning the 16th to 19th centuries.
  •  An exploration of the cultural context that produced the repressed memory epidemic of the 1990s.
  •  The repressed memory movement as a religious sect or cult.


The Repressed Memory Epidemic will be of interest to researchers and clinicians as well as undergraduate and graduate students in the fields of psychology, sociology, cultural studies, religion, and anthropology.



Mark Pendergrast’s The Repressed Memory Epidemic does a masterful job of assessing the myth of repressed and recovered memories as well as the devastating damage done by those who promulgate the myth.”

 -- James McGaugh, Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of California, Irvine, author of Memory and Emotion


“During the 1980s and 1990s, I was astonished and appalled when members of my own profession of psychiatry contributed to one of the most harmful psychological crazes that has ever occurred, starting in the United States and spreading to most of the ‘civilized’ world.  The idea was that people ‘repressed’ or ‘dissociated’ years of traumatic memories of horrendous abuse, and some were convinced they had multiple internal personalities. In The Repressed Memory Epidemic, Mark Pendergrast has captured and explained this on-going epidemic in all its full horror.”

. – Harold Merskey, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Western University, London, Ontario
and author of
The Analysis of Hysteria.


"In the European witch craze, thousands of people were tortured and killed based on spectral evidence. You would think in this Age of Science that we would not fall for such nonsense, but as Mark Pendergrast reveals in this exposé of a modern day witch hunt, ‘repressed memories’ are today’s spectral evidence, and they too exist exclusively in the minds of modern inquisitors, who have ruined lives and destroyed families in the name of something nonexistent. To find out how this could happen today, read The Repressed Memory Epidemic and be prepared to be shocked.”

Michael Shermer, Publisher Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist Scientific American, Presidential Fellow Chapman University, author Why People Believe Weird Things, The Moral Arc, Heavens on Earth



“Many people believe that ‘recovered memory therapy’ is a past aberration of the mental-health establishment, one that fueled the moral panic over sexual abuse in the 1990s and then subsided. But as Mark Pendergrast shows with new research and other evidence, many therapists, under the national radar, continue using methods that create false and perniciously harmful memories in their clients. The Repressed Memory Epidemic is essential, if scary, reading. It won’t allow us to forget.”

--Carol Tavris, social psychologist, co-author, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) and other books


Mark Pendergrast


Copyright 2010-2017 Mark Pendergrast