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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Is it considered abuse? Can hypnosis help recall memories?

 someone77 - Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:23 pm

While growing up, I've always felt something happened to me when I was a little girl and by more than one person. I had a few bits of memories of my sister, but I thought I must be crazy to think those thoughts. The problem was that I never could remember everything in these "bits" of memories. I would always feel dirty around my father. I would always have anxiety with my sister or my father being close to me. I always felt disgusted with myself, ashamed of myself, and angry with them. My sister is 6 years older than me and my memories were when I was a little girl when I was between 5 and 8 years old. I used to see a psychiatrist and would tell him about these feelings and the nightmares/insomnia I would have. He would always say that the things I would say tend to be said from individuals that have been abused. I never told him about my sister. I would just tell him about the dirty feelings, self shame, disgust, self-hurt, cutting, etc. Anyway, when I was 20 years old, I mentioned to my mother that I have bits of memories of my sister where I felt disgusted and dirty after. She told my sister and everyone else. My sister denied it and everyone looked at me like I was this sick disgusting person. Years later, my sister had a psychotic breakdown due to the guilt of her wanting/attempting to cheat on her husband again. During the breakdown, "truths" were coming up. She would say everything she did wrong, including touching me. I tried to pretend like it didn't bother me at the time because I dealt with feeling like I was crazy for so many years and having my family look at me like I was a liar and just plain sick, but these feelings don't go away. After she got let out of the hospital after being there for about 4 weeks, she saw a local psychiatrist who then went to tell her what she did was not abuse and was normal. After she heard that, she felt absolved and felt she did nothing wrong to me and I just over reacted. He said that it's normal for children to "play".

I did some reading and yes, it is normal for children to "play", but if one of the children is left with these emotions, it's not normal play. Also, I read that since she was not in my developmental age group, she should have known more what is right and wrong, where it can be considered abuse.

Is what her doctor saying correct or is it truly abuse? Is what I'm feeling just me "over reacting" like my sister said?

I stopped seeing my doctor a few years back because I just got tired of talking about these feelings. I would feel worse after rather than better. He never brought this up, but I was wondering if hypnosis can actually help in recovering all these missing pieces to help understand everything better?
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Wed Jun 23, 2010 2:29 pm

Hello someone77,

What a difficult and complicated situation! First, I am very sorry that you have had to face such issues. You sound like a person with considerable inner strength.

You are correct that your feelings of discomfort and "dirtiness" indicate some level of abuse. You are also correct that being in different developmental age groups is a significant factor. Abuse is an issue of power; an older sibling is in a position of greater power than a younger sibling. If the older sibling does not respect the wishes (discomfort) of the younger sibling, some degree of abuse has occurred. It may be within normal play, with power used in a minor degree. However, when touching is involved beyond the younger sibling's comfort level, it is much more serious, and becomes coercion - and that is abusive. It's disappointing that your sister's psychiatrist did not explore the issue in more depth, and dismissed the impact on your life. It has allowed your sister to justify her actions and has resolved nothing, nor has it helped her toward personal accountability and growth - regardless of the degree of any participation in childhood abuse. Her marital issues alone indicate that treatment could be very helpful to her.

Hypnosis can be useful, if conducted by a skilled hypnotist of high ethical standards and acute awareness of avoiding suggestion in any way. It would be helpful to examine the person's education, evaluations by other patients, reputation within the mental health community, etc., before embarking on such a course of treatment. It can also be helpful to join a support group, such as Adults Molested as Children. Have you ever pursued psychological testing? Certain scales can indicate a history of sexual abuse. I urge you to discuss this with your treatment provider, and to request referrals to appropriate evaluators. If the treatment provider is not supportive in helping you pursue resolution, please consider getting a second opinion.

I wish you the best of luck and a positive outcome.

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