Spectral Evidence by Moira Johnston
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Spectral Evidence
By Moira Johnston

Spectral Evidence

The Ramona Case: Incest, Memory, and Truth on Trail in Napa Valley

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Format: Paperback

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Spectral Evidence by Moira Johnston

Book Description

Spectral Evidence is a masterful account of the Ramona family of Napa Valley, CA, whose outward appearance of success was destroyed by allegations of child sexual abuse brought by Holly, the eldest of the Ramonas three daughters, by her mother, Stephanie, and by Hollys therapists against her father, Gary. These allegations were based on memories recovered through the efforts of the therapists, who were later successfully sued by Gary for malpractice. From the powerfully rendered confrontation between Gary and his wife and daughter, to the dramatic conclusion of the first trial, at which the entire concept of recovered memory was furiously debated, readers witness a dynamic and emotional family drama. Johnston, a veteran investigative journalist, objectively explores the nature of recovered memory, its validity, and its quick acceptance within the professional psychological community. The book provides an even-handed and fair survey of the research and opinions brought to bear by feminists, psychologists, memory scientists, and legal experts.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780813335872
ISBN-10: 0813335876
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 153mm x 30mm)
Pages: 448
Imprint: Westview Press Inc
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 25-Nov-1998
Country of Publication: United States

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Books By Author Moira Johnston

Bodyguard's Story by Moira Johnston Bodyguard's Story, Paperback (January 2000)

* The phenomenal bestselling, first-hand account of the crash that killed Diana, its causes and consequences, by the bodyguard who survived.

» View all books by Moira Johnston


US Kirkus Review » An utterly captivating story of wine, wealth, and a family destroyed by accusations of incest. Johnston (Roller Coasters, 1990, etc.) cuts through an amazingly tangled web of recovered memories and warring therapists to bring to life the story of the Ramona family. Gary and Stephanie Ramona were enjoying the American Dream in Napa Valley, where Gary had a top sales job at Mondavi. But their daughter Holly developed bulimia in high school. A random choice led her to Marche Isabella, a newly minted therapist with no training in eating disorders or depression. She first met Holly in 1989, just as a tidal wave of recovered memories - visual images purported by some therapists to be repressed memories of childhood abuse - began. Soon Holly was taking sodium amytal, a questionable form of therapy, and declared she had been raped repeatedly by Gary. The stunning lack of proof (including the fact that Holly's hymen was practically intact) was no obstacle to what became a Job-like turn of events for Gary: His wife and three daughters left him, his newly constructed dream house was sold for legal fees, and he was fired from Mondavi. Holly filed suit against her father, and he, devastated, filed a malpractice lawsuit agains her therapists. His suit was ultimately successful, and Johnston offers high drama in her account of jury selection, competing expert witnesses, and courtroom testimony. Her research into memory science is meticulous, and she does a brilliant job of presenting both sides to this story, presenting Gary as not the best of fathers, but no rapist, and Stephanie as a weak-willed trophy wife whose long-brewing anger at Gary found its expression in incest accusations. Johnston is a bit thin on some of the legal context for this case. Still, a frightening look into what happens when pop psychology is mistaken for therapy, and when the dubious fruits of that therapy are mistaken for truth. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Moira Johnston

Moira Johnston is a veteran investigative journalist who lives in Napa Valley, California.

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