Incest and Extreme Child Sexual Abuse: Amnesia Makes Sense

The False memory Syndrome Foundation conducted a survey on cases of memory repression that involved child sexual abuse. The director of the FMSF, Pamela Freyd, found the following results to be questionable. Below the findings, I have offered common sense and statistically backed arguments:

In the study, the father was the accused perpetrator fifty-one percent of the time:

This finding certifies the validity of Jennifer Freyd’s betrayal trauma theory, which explains the profoundness of a father’s betrayal and that it can commonly cause Dissociative Amnesia (Jennifer Freyd is a highly respected psychology professor and memory researcher, who privately accused her father of sexually abusing her as a child.  Jennifer’s father denied Jennifer’s memories and her parents formed the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. Jennifer’s mother is the executive director of the FMSF).

The survey uncovered that some accusers considered other people as having abused them but eventually concluded that their father had been the perpetrator. In Clinical Aspects of Recovered Memory, Sakheim describes “Screen Memories” as a defense mechanism used by the mind of some people who were traumatized by a parent. Their mind can create a memory which represents the actual abusing parent, but the memory has the ability to continue shielding them from the truth. A victim might replace their father in their mind with a neighbor or someone less threatening to their conscious mind.

Sakheim describes one case in which a female patient proclaimed to have been sexually abused by a “monster,” but the monster image was really her father. This allowed her to continue to love her father and retain him in her mind as being a decent person. This would have enabled her to function, instead of admitting to herself that the monster father had harmed her, or that the “monster” even existed. As the therapy moves into a more progressive stage, the memory is eventually reprocessed into who actually abused the child. This happens only after the patient has come to a point of being able to handle the truth. 1

According to the FMSF survey, mothers were accused of participating in the abuse with the father in more than thirty-six percent of the cases:

Pamela Freyd finds this suspect but the incredible violation of a mother sexually abusing her own child would enhance the victim’s need for Dissociative Amnesia. 2 Based on what we know about repression, it is understandable to find this rather high percentage of mothers being actively involved in the abuse. The idea that it is rare for a mother to sexually abuse her child reminds me of the first half of the twentieth century when people felt that father/daughter incest was rare. There is little research on the prevalence of mother/daughter incest and the statistics vary. The deep shame, betrayal and violation felt by a victim of mother/daughter incest would cause most victims and survivors of this crime to remain silent forever. The true number of cases is very difficult to know.

The need to repress the horrible feelings, thus the entire incident, would especially take place if the child felt any pleasure in the acts. It also means that people who have been sexually molested by the same-sex parent and felt sexually stimulated in the acts are going to stay quiet about it. A sparse amount of women want to openly admit that they engaged in oral sex with their mother, or worse yet, that it felt good.

Pamela Freyd found it suspicious that reports to the FMSF foundation consisted of “very few” siblings having been the perpetrator: 3

Sibling incest is highly common but not as much of a betrayal as parental incest. Sibling incest often takes place between two children who are close in age. Often it is consensual and just out of curiosity. Sometimes the molestation is done with force or the child is raped and these instances are more likely to be repressed. Sibling incest involves dynamics that are different from parental incest:

  • The parent is the primary care-giver and authority figure. The child knows the parent is needed for survival.
  • The emotional attachment to a parent is much stronger than it is with a sibling, therefore, more of a betrayal.
  • In cases of one sibling abusing another, the child is more commonly believed and the abuse more likely to be stopped if the child tells.
  • Shame and guilt would be stronger if a parent is the one sexually molesting the child –especially when it is the same sex parent.

There is an exception to this. If a child is being sexually assaulted by a parent and an older sibling of the same sex also starts to sexually abuse the child, the betrayal can be close to, or equal to the sexual abuse by the parent. The older sibling can represent a parental figure to the child, and someone that could have rescued the child. The child victim might have seen the older sibling come and go from the home and not bring back help. Instead, the older sibling –who could have been a loving savior- abuses the child just like the parent is doing. These dynamics would be a breeding ground for repression of sibling incest.

Why are the Families Who Contact the FMSF Well-Educated? Why are the Accusers Often College Educated?:

A study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted on people from middle class homes found that half of the 17,421 subjects had experienced abuse in childhood, and twenty-two percent of those suffered sexual abuse. 4

Oftentimes, victims of incest strive to achieve, or even over-achieve, in order to deny the reality of their childhood. A person who has come from a family with a college fund would be able to physically escape the abusive home by going off to college. Once they are physically away at school, they can mentally run away from their history of trauma by pushing themselves academically.

A person with a higher education would also have more financial resources to seek a highly professional and well-trained psychoanalyst, as opposed to becoming involved with an incompetent therapist.

Family members in a high-income household are less inclined to acknowledge anything ugly is happening. It is also more likely that neighbors, friends, and outside relatives will ignore any warning signs. They would think to themselves “Incest can’t be happening; this is a nice upscale family.”

Mothers in higher income and educated families are more commonly going to be afraid of the shame of exposing their husband. The woman may worry about being ridiculed by her social groups or by fashionable neighbors. She may even have a higher income to protect as well as an expensive home and luxury items to hang on to. Incest is not spoken about at the country club or at bridge parties.

Over Seventy-One Percent of the Parents in the Survey Were Still Married to Their Original Spouse:

The FMSF survey revealed that a considerable amount of the accused parents were religious. This may indicate that the wife felt it was her religious duty to stay with her husband in spite of the fact that we was abusing his child. Divorce was uncommon before the 1980’s, and this time period also harbored many women with an inability to provide for themselves. These women may have looked the other way in order to financially survive or to retain their comfortable lifestyle. Repression is commonly found in families where the mother looked the other way. If the wife is unwilling to protect her daughter from the husband and doesn’t mind staying with a man who was having sex with his children, it is probable that -although dysfunctional- the marriage will remain intact.

Why are So Many of the Accused “Active in Their Religion?”:

Atrocities are repeatedly done in the name of religion and many religious persons have committed heinous acts on children. People who say they are religious are often people who only attend church occasionally, or who use God for their Sunday affairs, and during the rest of the week they behave ungodly.

It is not uncommon for Protestant ministers to teach that the woman is to be subservient to the man and to support him in everything he does. Some of the parents of the children who were abused by priests were told by the Church to forgive and forget. Some Catholic women might have held the mistaken belief that they were to forgive and forget about having discovered incest in their home.

In Victims of Memory, some accused parents tell their stories. 5 The mother of a woman who accused both her parents of abuse proclaims that there cannot be “anything more ridiculous” than Mormons allowing other Mormons to join in the sexual abuse of a child. 16 Salt Lake City has the largest population of Mormons in the United States. Anyone can do a sex offender search for Salt Lake City and find hundreds of registered child sexual offenders in the city itself and in the surrounding area. It is Mormon families who have made the media in recent years about polygamy, child rape, and child molestation. 6

Incest and child sexual abuse has been downplayed within Jewish circles, and people within the Jewish Community have been known to discourage other Jews from going to secular law enforcement. A program called Project Shield has been created in Chicago Illinois in order to take action against the enormous silence about child sexual abuse found within the Jewish community there. 7 There are numerous cases of child sexual abuse by Rabbis, and other Jews, documented by The Awareness Center Inc., a Jewish coalition against rape and child sexual abuse.

People Who Have Been Accused of Satanic Ritual Abuse Were More Likely to Have Been Participating Members of a Religion: 8

A large portion of people accused in cases of Satanic Ritual Abuse are caucasian Protestants. The murderous Klu Klux Klan members of the south were mostly white Protestants and the KKK had three million members by 1952. Five thousand of these were women. The KKK consisted of groups of people from the same town, they were close to one another personally, and members were often intergenerational. Members of the KKK included teachers and law enforcement. If members of the KKK who condoned murder, torture, and violence can hide behind Christianity, then seemingly normal church-going families can be engaging in Satanic Ritual Abuse.

Throughout the centuries, abhorrent crimes have been committed by active members of a religion, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and most other religions. Satanic Ritual Abuse surrounds, and often shields itself, with the banner of Christianity because Satan is the adversary of Christ. What better way to cover up Satanic Ritual Abuse than to put on the facade of being a “religious” person?

Most of the Accusers in the Survey were Between the Ages of Twenty-Five to Forty-Five: 9

The mind of a teenager is driven by hormones and discovering life. When a previous victim of child abuse becomes a teen, they often begin to experiment with drugs and alcohol and some continue to abuse substances well into their late twenties. This is when the subconscious begins to take over and they start to see that drugs and alcohol don’t give them what they need in order to continue to cover up buried pain. The mental repression that once worked as a block to guard them against the toxicity of the past, now becomes a prison. It is between the ages of twenty-five and fifty that the subconscious mind usually forces a person to deal with their childhood. Women in this age range are also more likely to seek psychological help.

Women in this age group usually marry, have children, become involved in long term relationships, and take on life-altering jobs. Marriage, children, and job stress often contribute to emerging memories. This is the age group where people begin to feel the emotional trials of life.

Most people who manage to move past age fifty without listening to the cries of the subconscious will eventually just become cemented in their ways, and most choose to remain in denial instead of addressing what is pounding at their door. They may try to convince themselves that they are fine and don’t need anyone’s help, or they come up with superficial excuses for not seeking therapy for their problems.

Once a person reaches a certain age it becomes increasingly difficult for them to want to walk the hard road of healing. They are already worn out from life and will presumably never remember the blocked pain from their childhood. Instead, they may develop cancer, have a heart attack, become obese, or find that another disease has afflicted their body because they did not address the child abuse. They will mistakenly attribute the disease to bad luck or “God’s will” and may never realize that unresolved child abuse was the main cause of their disease. Yet, people over fifty do occasionally remember having been abused as a child after repressing the memories for decades, and some successfully deal with it through therapy.

Only about Eight Percent of the Accusers Had Some Kind of Psychological or Psychiatric Care in Childhood: 10

Pamela Freyd questions why accusers, who were claiming that they remember terrible abuse before age four, did not have more symptoms of psychological problems as children. First of all, this information was obtained through a survey of people being accused of child abuse. There is a strong probability that, in some instances, these parents were not very truthful about their children’s psychological problems. It is entirely possible that a number of parents did not admit to any signs of dysfunction or that the child had been treated by a professional.

More importantly, even if all the accused parents were completely honest in their answers (improbable), these are the people who would have been the ones to provide the means of help for the child. Had incest been going on in the home, the last people who would have taken the child to see a mental health professional is the abuser or any enablers in the family. The offending parent is most likely not going to take the child to a doctor where the sexual abuse could be detected.

According to Freyd, the family survey revealed no evidence of the accuser having any trouble in school or with relationships. 11 These children must have been particularly special children if there were such a large number of families (494) with no evidence of trouble in school or relationships. Most children have difficulties whether they are from abusive homes or not.

Pamela Freyd wants to know why accusers went on with their lives for decades without experiencing problems that would have caused them to see a mental health professional. 12 Abused children grow into adults with the same conditioning that was instilled into them when they were children –the need to pretend that everything is okay. Survivors are often able to cope relatively well in spite of the family dysfunction they survived. Previous victims of abuse can hold down respectable jobs, marry, and sustain normal social lives while hiding the abuse from others and from themselves through amnesia. They were taught indirectly as children how to go on in spite of horrible abuse and without love, and as adults, they are able to apply this to their daily lives.

I know high-achievers, who in confidence, have shared their concealed pain with me. They over-achieve to prove themselves worthy and to retain their sanity. Being a high- achiever is not synonymous with mental health. On the contrary, I know a high-achiever who killed herself. She was a successful physician and she put a gun to her head.

The FMSF survey provides no explanation for why these highly educated symptom-free and psychologically well-adjusted children, who came from intact and often spiritually active homes, would allow a virtual stranger to convince them that they suffered molestation or rape by their near-perfect parents.

Notes:

1. Clinical Aspects of Recovered Memory, David K. Sakheim, Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse: Psychological, Social, and Legal Perspectives on a Contemporary Mental Health Controversy, Edited by Sheila Taub, Charles C Thomas Publisher,1999 page 68

2. Clinical Aspects of Recovered Memory, David K. Sakheim, Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse: Psychological, Social, and Legal Perspectives on a Contemporary Mental Health Controversy, Edited by Sheila Taub, Charles C Thomas Publisher,1999 page 34

3. Clinical Aspects of Recovered Memory, David K. Sakheim, Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse: Psychological, Social, and Legal Perspectives on a Contemporary Mental Health Controversy, Edited by Sheila Taub, Charles C Thomas Publisher,1999 page 35

4. Child Abuse Causes Lasting Health Effects, Washington, United Press International via Comtex

5. Victims of Memory: Sex Abuse Accusations and Shattered Lives, Mark Pendergrast, Second Edition, Upper Access Inc., 1996, page 291

6. Utah Paying a High Price for Polygamy; Law: Child abuse and welfare fraud are part of plural marriage’s toll. Still, there is a reluctance to pursue lawbreakers, Los Angeles Times, Sep 9, 2001, Julie Cart

Runaway Urges Utah to Pass Bill to Fight Abuses Common in Polygamy, Religion: Legislation would make it a felony to arrange or perform a marriage involving a girl not of legal age, Orange County Edition, Los Angeles Times, Feb 6, 2001, Record edition, pg. A.17

California and the West; Incest Trial Sheds Light on Polygamy in Utah; Courts: Jurors find member of a wealthy Mormon clan guilty of unlawful sex with his teenage niece, whom he took as his 15th wife, Home Edition, Julie Cart, Los Angeles Times, Jun 4, 1999, Record edition; pg. 3

Tales of Abuse, Incest Frame ‘Utah’s Dirty Little Secret’; Polygamy: A 16-year-old’s desperate plea helped give voice to a rising chorus of outrage against plural marriages, Home Edition, Julie Cart, Los Angeles Times, Aug 15, 1998, Record edition; pg. 1

Nation In brief, Utah, Ex-Mormon Official Jailed for Sex Abuse
Home Edition, The Los Angeles Times, Feb 4, 1997, Record edition; pg. 14

7. Chicago Jewish Community Online, Jewish Victims of Sexual Abuse to find support from New Helpline

The Prevalence of a History of Child Sexual Abuse Among Adults Visiting Family Practitioners in Israel, Schein M., Biderman A., Baras M., et al, Child Abuse and Neglect, Volume 24, Issue 5, May 2000, 667-75).

8. About the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, Pamela Freyd, Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse: Psychological, Social, and Legal Perspectives on a Contemporary Mental Health Controversy, Edited by Sheila Taub, Charles C Thomas Publisher,1999 page 35

9. Clinical Aspects of Recovered Memory, David K. Sakheim, Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse: Psychological, Social, and Legal Perspectives on a Contemporary Mental Health Controversy, Edited by Sheila Taub, Charles C Thomas Publisher,1999 page 36

10. Clinical Aspects of Recovered Memory, David K. Sakheim, Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse: Psychological, Social, and Legal Perspectives on a Contemporary Mental Health Controversy, Edited by Sheila Taub, Charles C Thomas Publisher,1999 page 36-37

11. Clinical Aspects of Recovered Memory, David K. Sakheim, Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse: Psychological, Social, and Legal Perspectives on a Contemporary Mental Health Controversy, Edited by Sheila Taub, Charles C Thomas Publisher,1999 page 37

12. Clinical Aspects of Recovered Memory, David K. Sakheim, Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse: Psychological, Social, and Legal Perspectives on a Contemporary Mental Health Controversy, Edited by Sheila Taub, Charles C Thomas Publisher,1999 page 37

Advertisements
This entry was posted in child sexual abuse and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Incest and Extreme Child Sexual Abuse: Amnesia Makes Sense

  1. In reply to a TV documentary about FMS, William Freyd, (Pamela Freyd’s (one of the founders of the FMSF) step brother and sister-in-law) wrote “The False Memory Syndrome Foundation is a fraud designed to deny a reality that Peter and Pam have spent most of their lives trying to escape. There is no such thing as a False Memory Syndrome.”[2]

    “In addition, Peter Freyd’s own mother (who is also Pamela’s step-mother) and his only sibling, a brother, were also estranged from Pamela and Peter. It should be noted that these family members support Jennifer’s side of the story.”[1]

    Calof, D.L. (1998). Notes from a practice under siege: Harassment, defamation, and intimidation in the name of science, Ethics and Behavior, 8(2) pp. 161-187. Abstract: I have practiced psychotherapy, family therapy, and hypnotherapy for over 25 years without a single board complaint or lawsuit by a client. For over 3 years, however, a group of proponents of the false memory syndrome (FMS) hypothesis, including members, officials, and supporters of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, Inc., have waged a multimodal campaign of harassment and defamation directed against me, my clinical clients, my staff, my family, and others connected to me. I have neither treated these harassers or their families nor had any professional or personal dealings with any of them; I am not related in any way to the disclosures of memories of sexual abuse in these families. Nonetheless, this group disrupts my professional and personal life and threatens to drive me out of business. In this article, I describe practicing psychotherapy under a state of siege and place the campaign against me in the context of a much broader effort in the FMS movement to denigrate, defame, and harass clinicians, lecturers, writers, and researchers identified with the abuse and trauma treatment communities.

Comments are closed.