Bad thoughts that never leave: What do they really mean?
I have had several patients who have been lingering in psychotherapy for many years, convinced that they had horrible childhood. They have tried every form of therapy with limited success and possible harmful dependency. The evidence they have for their traumatic childhood experiences is the persistent obsessive thoughts triggered by daily experiences such as caring for children or intimacy issues.
Many of these individuals are actually suffering from Obsessive Compulsive spectrum disorders, neuropsychiatric conditions that have strong biological basis. They are hard to diagnose and are hallmarked by obsessive thoughts or compulsive actions. A comprehensive psychiatric assessment along with biological and/or behavioral therapies have the best record of positive response.
If you are a psychotherapist and working with a patient who is not improving, consider this diagnostic category and make the appropriate referral. I do believe that many cases of ”false memory syndrome” could be traced back to a mismanaged psychotherapy course.