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Excerpts from: Fredrickson, R., Ph.D. (1992), Repressed Memories
(New York: Simon & Schuster).

FROM THE BOOK JACKET: Heal the wounds of childhood by recovering buried memories of sexual abuse. Most victims of child abuse repress some or all of the memory of the abuse at great expense to their health and emotional well-being. Drawing from her extensive clinical experience, Renee Fredrickson has written a supportive and encouraging book to help abuse victims understand: - How memory repression happens - What the warning signs are for memory repression - The impact memory repression can have on their lives -Why it is vital to recover all the pieces of the puzzle - How to recover the memories and begin healing. This book is the companion you need on your healing journey. Renée Fredrickson, Ph.D., has been teaching survivors of abuse about recovery and families for seventeen years. She is director of Fredrickson Associates in St. Paul, Minnesota, and codirector of Chrysalis Recovery Center in Dallas, Texas, both of which provide therapy and educational resources for recovery.


Few survivors experience spontaneous recall, especially if they have no awareness of the abuse ever happening....Dreams, imagery, feelings, and physical symptoms must be painstakingly faced and pieced together into a meaningful whole that the survivor struggles to accept as reality.

Currently, seven major methods of memory retrieval are being used for retrieving memories (definitions follow of Imagistic work, Journal writing, Body work, Hypnosis, Feelings work, and Art therapy with reference to chapters containing detailed descriptions).



Ritual abuse survivors often have nightmares with ritual symbols or satanic overtones. Dreams of blood, sacrifice, torture, dismemberment, or other grisly themes may indicate repressed memories of ritual abuse. Nightmares about Satan, the devil, chanting, menacing robed figures, cannibalism, or other satanic symbols should be carefully assessed in terms of ritual cult abuse.


These are dreams with a set of symbols that point to the existence of a buried memory. The dream world acknowledges the abuse obliquely instead of directly, through symbolic representations of the forgotten abuse. Working with the symbols provides access to the associated repressed memory. In addition to the symbols already mentioned in the section on nightmares, secrets, closed or locked doors, mysterious passageways, or anything stored or hidden are frequent access symbols. The appearance of a child in a dream, particularly one who cannot communicate or whom you are trying to protect, is another common access symbol. Water, especially water that frightens you, can be an access symbol in dreams, often symbolizing sexual abuse in a bathing situation. Snakes or other phallic symbols are often references to abuse involving someone’s penis. Sometimes the access symbol your unconscious selects as a focus is idiosyncratic to your abuse history. The symbol itself does not alert you, but the intensity of the dream or the repetition of the symbol in several dreams is a red flag. Mona, for example, was a survivor who often dreamed about chickens. Her "chicken dreams" were not nightmares, but she felt strongly that their meaning was important. When she finally did imagistic work using the chickens in one dream as a focal point, Mona discovered she had been abused by an uncle during a family gathering to butcher chickens. Once she retrieved this memory, her "chicken dream" stopped.


Journal writing is the most effective way to recover memories for some survivors, and it has a valuable place in the memory process for most others. Your journal operates as a twenty-four-hour therapist. It is always "on call" when a memory fragment emerges or your energy guides you toward working on a dream or image. You can turn to your journal as an avenue to your unconscious any hour of the day or night. ... As a technique, journal writing is similar to imagistic work, substituting writing for words. ...Journal writing utilizes acting-out memory. A focal point can be an access symbol from a dream, an image from a memory fragment, a body sensation, or simply the felt sense that an abusive memory is trying to surface.

HYPNOSIS, p. 148

Hypnosis is a structured process of relaxation designed to produce a state of dissociation. This induced state of dissociation facilitates your ability to get in touch with unconscious parts of yourself, such as feelings, awareness, or memories. While in the trance state, you can tap into your imagistic memory and retrieve repressed memories of abuse.


After you have undergone a form of trance induction, the hypnotherapist will use some method of directed memory work....While three possible approaches are described below, there are thousands of equally valid approaches. ... Age regression is the most commonly used method of retrieving painful childhood memories with hypnosis. After trance induction, it is suggested that you are getting younger and younger. ... Imagistic work can be done in a trance state. After trance induction, an image, dream fragment, or some other form of memory fragment is used as a focal point.


Your hypnotherapist will also use suggestion to help you with your repressed memories. A trance state opens a direct link to the unconscious, and suggestions can be given that reduce or remove the unconscious blocks to memory. Suggestions that promote your healing and emotional well-being can also be given, as well as suggestions to deepen your trance state during the next session of hypnosis.

RETURN, p. 151

Hypnosis is very similar to imagistic work. Imagistic work is, in actuality, hypnosis without the trance induction. Imagistic work is the preferred method of memory recovery if you are not a good hypnotic subject, if you do not have access to a qualified hypnotherapist in your community, or if you have unusual fears about being hypnotized.

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