Forum Discussion

The Impact of the ‘Memory Wars’ on the Trauma Field and the ISSTD: The Past and the Present

Sunday, March 25
10:30 AM - 3:00 PM
Location: Salon 3

The so-called ‘memory wars’ commenced in the early 1990s and challenged what therapists and researchers knew about memory. Impassioned claims were made by those who believed that trauma memories could be forgotten and later accurately retrieved, and those who believed such a feat of cognition was not possible. Debates were often personal and this time period had a marked impact on the ISSTD, its members, the therapeutic community treating complex trauma disorders, and society at large. This panel draws together four leading clinicians and researchers who each had personal contact with the ‘memory wars’.  Drs. Ross and Loewenstein ‘lived through’ the most ferocious period of the ‘memory wars’ and still run inpatient and day patient programs. Dr. Sinason has faced the impact of the ‘memory wars’ in the UK, and how debate about trauma memory continues to be in evidence in professional life. Dr. DePrince has been at the leading edge of empirical efforts to understand the impact of traumatic stress, especially that occurring in childhood and perpetrated by a caregiver, on memory functioning. Each speaker will address the professional impact of the memory wars and how debates and controversies still playing out in the clinical and research domains. 

Learning Objectives:

Colin Ross

The Colin A. Ross Institute for Psychological Trauma
Richardson, Texas

Colin A. Ross received his M.D. from the University of Alberta in 1981 and completed his psychiatry training at the University of Manitoba in 1985. He has been running a Trauma Program in the Dallas, Texas area since 1991 and consults to two other Trauma Programs, one at Forest View Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan and one at Del Amo Hospital in Torrance, California. His Texas Trauma Program moved to UBH Denton in September, 2015. Dr. Ross is the author of 29 books and over 200 professional papers and is a Past President of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. Dr. Ross has spoken widely throughout North America and in Europe, China, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. Besides his psychiatric research and writing, Dr. Ross has written poetry, short stories, essays, aphorisms, creative non-fiction, and screenplays.


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Richard J. Loewenstein

Medical Director
Sheppard Pratt Health System, Baltimore, MD
Towson, Maryland

Richard J. Loewenstein M.D. is the founder and Medical Director of The Trauma Disorders Program at Sheppard Pratt Health Systems, Baltimore, MD, ranked by U.S. News and World Report as among America’s 10 top psychiatric facilities and ranked by them as among America’s top 1 % of psychiatrists. He is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The Sheppard Pratt Trauma Disorders Program includes a 22-bed inpatient unit, an outpatient program, a fellowship program, and research, consultation and teaching components. He is the author of numerous papers and book chapters on dissociation, dissociative disorders, and trauma disorders. He is among the authors of all editions of the ISSTD and Dissociation Guidelines for the Treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder in Adults. He has authored or co-authored standard chapters on diagnosis and treatment of dissociative disorders, including all of the most recent editions of the American Psychiatric Association Textbook, Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders, and Sadock and Sadock’s Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry. He is a Fellow of the ISSTD and Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He has received numerous awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. He is co-chair of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Task Force on the Biopsychosocial Consequences of Childhood Trauma, and is an advisor to the APA DSM 5 Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum, Posttraumatic, and Dissociative Disorders Work Group. He is co-investigator and senior advisor to the TOPDD Study.


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Anne P. DePrince

University of Denver
Denver, Colorado

Anne DePrince is a Professor and Chair in the Psychology Department as well as Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL). Her research focuses on how individual characteristics as well as interpersonal, community, and spatial contexts relate to violence/abuse exposure as well as clinical symptoms and interventions. The co-editor of three volumes on trauma and violence and an author of more than 80 articles, she is active in national and international professional organizations addressing trauma and violence. She currently serves as an Editor for the Trauma Books Series, the book series of Division 56 (Trauma Psychology) for the American Psychological Association. She also serves on the editorial boards of several journals. She has received research funding from the National Institute of Justice and the National Institute of Mental Health. DePrince received the 2005 Public Advocacy Award from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies for advancing the social understanding of trauma as well as the 2015 Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award from Campus Compact. In April 2016, her research was recognized by Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Department of Justice Office of Victims of Crimes with the Vision 21 Crime Victims Research Award for her contributions to the nation’s understanding of crime victims’ issues. She completed her doctoral training in clinical psychology at the University of Oregon and clinical internship at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She is a licensed clinical psychologist in Colorado.


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Valerie Sinason

London, England

alerie Sinason PhD, MACP, M Inst Psychoanal, FIPD is a poet, writer, child, adolescent and adult psychotherapist and adult psychoanalyst. She was Founder Director of the Clinic for Dissociative Studies until her retirement in December 2016 and remains a Consultant. She is President of the Institute for Psychotherapy and Disability (IPD) and Hon Consultant Psychotherapist at the University of Cape Town Child Guidance Clinic; Patron of the Dorchester Trust, Chair of Trustees of the First People Art Centre – Nieu Bethesda Arts Foundation.

Her extensive writing includes over 120 papers and chapters. Furthermore, she has written, edited, co-edited over 16 books including a revised 2nd edition of her seminal book Mental Handicap and the Human Condition , Free Association Books (2010) a 2nd edition of her edited book Attachment, Trauma and Multiplicity: Working with Dissociative Identity Disorder (2010) from Routledge. "Trauma Attachment and Dissociation” (Routledge 2012) and her most recent co-edited books are “Shattered But Unbroken: Voices of Triumph and Testimony” Amelia van der Merwe and Valerie Sinason, Karnac 2016 and "Holistic Therapy ,Living with DID", Pat Frankish and Valerie Sinason, Karnac 2017. She received the ISSTD lifetime achievement award in 2016


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Martin Dorahy

President 2017
Christchurch, Canterbury

Prof Martin J. Dorahy, DClinPsych, PhD is director of the clinical psychology programme at the University of Canterbury and immediate past president (2018) of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. His published work has primarily explored cognitive and emotional underpinnings of dissociation and dissociative disorders, with a particular focus on shame. His clinical work is focused on the adult outcomes of abuse and neglect. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and has Co-edited four books and two journal special issues in the area of psychotraumatology (Edited books:- Traumatic Dissociation: Neurobiology and Treatment, 2007, American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc; Psychosis, Trauma and Dissociation: Emerging Perspectives on Severe Psychopathology, 2008, Wiley Press; Global Perspectives on Dissociative Disorders: Individual and Societal Oppression. London: 2014, Routledge - Taylor and Francis; The Abused and the Abuser: Victim – Perpetrator Dynamics. In Press - 2018, Routledge - Taylor and Francis).


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The Impact of the ‘Memory Wars’ on the Trauma Field and the ISSTD: The Past and the Present

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