Media Portrayal of Repression

In 2000, The History Channel did a program on child sexual abuse and Dissociative Amnesia. The documentary featured the repressed memory debate, but failed to offer a balanced side to the issue and clearly leaned towards pushing the False Memory Syndrome theory.

E. Sue Blume, author of Secret Survivors, was interviewed for the program and she was called bias by the interviewer because she stated that incest is prevalent in our society. Maybe the interviewer should have done his homework on the vast amount of incest there truly is.

Immediately following the comment about Blume being ‘bias’, the interviewer implied that women who remember previously repressed memories of incest from childhood have destroyed their families by speaking about it. The case of former Miss America, Marilyn Van Derbur,  was then targeted. The producers of the documentary seemed set on making it appear as if someone had “implanted” Marilyn’s memories. The editing purposely showed only a clip of one of Marilyn Van Derbur’s old interviews which emphasized the fact that Marilyn had remembered the abuse after a youth minister (who had always suspected she had been abused) finally asked her if she was. This made it appear as if the youth minister somehow magically implanted into her mind that she was sexually abused by her socialite father for years.

Ross Cheit calls this type of journalism “The Vanishing Facts Syndrome” and it had apparently infected the producers of the program because they neglected to say that Marilyn’s sister corroborated the memories by revealing her own memories of incest, which she had never repressed. The program also neglected to do any in-depth research in the Van derbur case because if they had, they would have found that there is an ample amount of evidence that incest took place in the home. They gave the impression that it was Marilyn who “tore the family apart.” Once again the survivor of abuse is given the blame for having the courage to speak up about what happened to her, and the abuser is made into the innocent victim.

This entry was posted in child molestation, child sexual abuse, Denial, dissociative amnesia, false memory syndrome, rape and abuse, repressed memory and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Media Portrayal of Repression

  1. Kay says:

    The repression is the only way we have of defending ourselves against horrible memories, memories NO child should have to live with.
    But… when that one comment is made, that one question is asked, that one trigger is recognized – those memories were never GONE. They were just buried. And sometimes we just need a push to pull that final layer of covering OFF the memories that we don’t WANT to remember.

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