SECRETS, LIES, BETRAYALS: How the Body Holds the Secrets of a Life and How to Unlock Them

Maggie Scarf, Author . Random $24.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-679-45703-9

Bestselling author Scarf (Intimate Partners ; Unfinished Business ) explores new therapies that claim to be able to "reprocess" or "detoxify" traumatic memories through physical manipulation of the nervous system. Via accessibly presented neuroscience, Scarf explains how the body stores memories of intensely stressful experiences. A writer rather than a clinician (she's a senior fellow at Yale's Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy), Scarf generates her data through meeting women subjects in marital distress and exploring their pasts through gentle discussion. Throughout, Scarf weaves her own autobiographical reflections, centered on painful memories of an autocratic father and a negligent mother. Seeking to advance her own emotional well-being, she enters into a reprocessing therapy session and becomes an advocate of the technique; she persuades one of her subjects to try it out, with apparently successful results. Although the physical ailments presented in Scarf's account seem extremely slight, she makes much of a sense of emotional breakthrough and release. Scarf's investigation into the methodology of reprocessing therapies is scientifically limited, yet she does allow us some insights into how they function. Admirers of her work will enjoy her ability to evoke relationship dynamics (including abusive relationships), her seductively flowing style and her emphasis on perceptive readings of life histories. Readers with a serious interest in psychology will find little cutting-edge scholarship here, and some may question why all Scarf's subjects are women. Agent, Amanda Urban. (On sale May 11)

Reviewed on: 03/15/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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