Abusing Memory is an appropriate title for Dr. Jane Gumprecht’s book. She skillfully demonstrates that the popular practice of inner healing is a dangerous combination of psychology and new-age spirituality. Practitioners attempt to heal people of present problems through a mental imagery process that guides people into re-experiencing real or imagined past events. Instead of being healed, many recipients of inner healing are now living according to lies. Inner healing is not based on truth, but rather on unbiblical doctrines, faulty memory, heightened hypnotic-like susceptibility, guided imagery, visualization, and fantasy.

In her book Abusing Memory: The Healing Theology of Agnes Sanford, Gumprecht focuses on the beliefs, teachings, and practices of Agnes Sanford, the “mother of the Inner Healing/ Healing of the Memories movement.” As one studies this book, one sees Sanford’s vast influence throughout Christendom. Gumprecht says:

Most inner healing advocates acknowledge their debt to her, and her “theology” is evident in their ministries. John Loren Sandford (no relation to her) dedicated his books to her as his beloved mentor. Morton Kelsey learned healing of memories from her as well. Karen Mains of Chapel of the Air was trained in inner healing at the School of Pastoral Care founded by Agnes and her husband. Similarly, spiritual therapist Leanne Payne is a disciple of Agnes, as was the late Ruth Carter Stapleton. Glen Clark, who established Camps Furthest Out, published Agnes’s first book, The Healing Light. . . also endorsed by Theosophy, the first of the modern New Age cults.

An entire chapter is devoted to “The Ministry of John Sandford.”

Gumprecht traces Agnes Sanford’s life and her development of unbiblical theological notions gleaned from a syncretism of occult spirituality, the Freudian unconscious, the Jungian collective unconscious, and depth psychology. She shows how Sanford distorted Christianity to make it fit her ideas and turned Jesus into a “Time Traveler” who supposedly guides people back in time to meet their so-called inner child, to remember the pain of their past, and to have Jesus heal the pain. She also shows how Sanford “affirmed the Freudian doctrine . . . that the unconscious is a powerful dark force which rules our conscious lives” and used teachings about the inner child from mystical traditions and Jung’s Child Archetype.

While the entire book is filled with evidence that should discourage every Christian from participating in inner healing, Gumprecht’s chapters “Inner Healing and Memories,” “The Inner Child,” and “The Source of the Unconscious” are especially helpful. They give a clear overview of the practice of inner healing, of its unbiblical foundations, and of the dangers of inner healing as it is used by people today. Inner healing techniques are used by many Christian counselors, some of whom may not even call what they are doing “inner healing.” Thus, Christians need to be warned and armed with the kind of warning and documentation found in the book Abusing Memory.