One of my readers has suddenly chosen to ask me to question my memories of child sexual abuse. She has brought up false memories and tried to post a link to the British False Memory Foundation.
One thing I will not do on this Blog site is cater to the ignorance that still remains regarding Dissociative Amnesia (also known as Repressed Memory or Traumatic Amnesia). I will also not post any links to the ridiculous material out there that supposedly “discredits” the well-documented and very real psychological mechanism of repression and dissociation –especially not links to the “False Memory Syndrome” people, whose organization was partially founded by an admitted pedophile and organizations that have extended from a society of people who have supported known child sexual abusers.
I have chosen to address her “concerns” about my memory, in an entire post because it is an important topic and one that needs re-addressing from time to time.
Car Lady writes:
“By the way, you may want to look more in depth at “hypnotic regressive therapy” (I think this is what you previously stated you were involved with.) I have researched this pseudoscience, and there is case after case of individuals who have been misled into believing they were raped by family members, when in the end it has come out that they were never raped at all. It was merely a figment of their imagination, or they were led by their “hypnotist” to develop these false memories. Remember, psychology is a huge money making business. I am in no way stating that your memories are false, or that someone has led you to develop an extreme obsession with sex abuse cases, but you may want to really look into this. I would hate to think that your entire life has been disrupted by something that never even happened.”
It was the incest and all of its after-affects that disrupted my entire life Car Lady. I was very sick and mentally dysfunctional prior to remembering the incest. I have healed from things that cause people to kill themselves. People do not heal from incurable diseases and psychological hell by making up things that didn’t happen. If they did, the medical industry would go out of business. People could make up all kinds of things in order to cure themselves of their suffering.
Thank you Car Lady for reminding me that there are still people, even those who claim to have suffered from child abuse, who somehow think that by reading a few articles on the Internet, or a book or two (written by questionable people) about “false memories” that they are educated on repression and dissociation. Thank you Car Lady for your sincere concern, but I have already “really looked into this.”
When my memory returned in 1997, after having blocked virtually all of my childhood, I began to investigate quite thoroughly. I read every book on the subject (except those that cost $100), researched at University libraries, researched every possible outlet on the Internet, corresponded with experts, and even got involved in groups which support the “false memory” theory (so I could hear their side).
I then spent the next ten years continuing in my research so that my book would be well-documented.
People who have recently remembered previously repressed trauma (and it’s not always sexual abuse) have a hard enough time believing themselves, they don’t need people who have not informed themselves to any degree, to tell them they ought to “look into” their memories as being false, and that recalling previously repressed incest is a “pseudoscience.” This can badly affect any adult survivor who has recently experienced the return of traumatic memory.
Thankfully, I am well past any self-doubt and I am centered enough to not be affected by Car Lady’s lack of education on the matter, but there are many people out there who still suffer from being ostracized, vilified, threatened, and go into states of panic and terrible fear by being told their memories are false –told this, by people who have no real knowledge about this extremely complex topic.
It is the so-called “False Memory Syndrome” which is unscientific, but there are more than seventy studies that give evidence of discontinuous memories of childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, or trauma. 1 There are countless corroborated cases of Dissociative Amnesia for child sexual abuse, which include confessions from the perpetrator. 2
Some studies have shown that continuous memory and delayed memory are comparable in accuracy. 3 In addition, studies show a corroboration rate of forty-seven to eighty-six percent in the core of the memories in delayed recall. The evidence used to substantiate the memories included other victims, legal and medical records, diaries, and confessions by the abusers. 4
“False Memory Syndrome” has absolutely no scientific basis and there are no documented cases. No such syndrome exists. There have been cases of people who were led to believe they were sexually abused when they were not (These instances are uncommon) and there are some people who make up stories of abuse (This is statistically rare), but these facts are not synonymous with a “syndrome.”
The False Memory Syndrome Foundation was founded in 1992. It was started by the parents of Jennifer J. Freyd. Jennifer is a highly respected psychology professor, who privately accused her father, Peter Freyd, of sexually abusing her as a child. 5 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.
William Freyd, Peter’s brother, has stated, “There is no doubt in my mind that there was severe abuse in the home of Peter and Pam. . . . 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.”
The FMSF was supported and encouraged at its inception by therapist Ralph Underwager, who became a board member. Underwager was quoted in an interview with the editor-in-chief of Paidika: The Journal of Pædophilia. He said, “Paedophiles need to become more positive and make the claim that paedophilia is an acceptable expression of God’s will for love and unity among human beings.” 6 Underwager resigned from his seat on the board.
The now deceased, Richard A. Gardner, M.D., who was also an FMSF board member, proclaimed that society’s “excessively moralistic and punitive reactions” about pedophiles surpass what he felt to be the magnitude of the crime. Gardner also suggested that when a child has been molested and has feelings of guilt about the abuse, the child may be ‘helped’ by being told that, in other parts of the world, child molestation is accepted as “normal.” Gardner further asserted that if the child’s sexual urges continue after the abuse ends, the victim should be “encouraged to masturbate.” 10 Interestingly, much of Gardner’s work concentrated on false accusations of sexual abuse, yet he admitted that “probably over 95%” of sexual abuse allegations are legitimate. 7
At one time, the FMSF defended the members of their organization, who had been accused of child molestation, by saying their innocence was evident because they had graying hair, they were well-dressed, they smiled a lot, and were healthy. 8 Now the FMSF seems to base proof of this so-called “syndrome” on the denial of the accused and their wives, and because some people have retracted their allegations of child sexual abuse. Although some of the retractions are probably valid, recanting claims of abuse is highly common among children who have been sexually assaulted; it is not surprising that some adults would do the same.
Note: There is a difference between hypnoanalysis and hypnosis. I will address this in another post.
Please also see: http://blogs.brown.edu/recoveredmemory/
1. Recovered Memories, Linda Stoler, Kat Quina, Anne P. De Prince, Jennifer J. Freud, 2001, Encyclopedia of Women and Gender, Volume Two, page 906, Academic Press.
3. The Leadership Council, Research Regarding Accuracy of Returned Memories
4. Recovered Memories, Linda Stoler, Kat Quina, Anne P. De Prince, Jennifer J. Freud, 2001, Encyclopedia of Women and Gender, Volume Two, page 913, Academic Press.
5. Your Memories are Not False: A Reply to the False Memory Syndrome Foundation Revised Edition, Copyright 1994 by John Backus, Sc.D., and Barbara Una Stannard, PhD
6. http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=16169 The pornography tradeshow Posted: July 16, 1999 1:00 a.m. Eastern By Eunice Van Winkle Ray……..http://www.fmsfonline.org/wikipedia-fmsf.html…….False Memory Syndrome Foundation From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
7. Gardner, 1992, p. 593, Gardner, 1992, p. 549, Gardner 1992, pp. 580, 585, Gardner, 1991, p. 7, 140
8. Freyd, P. (1992b, February 29). “How do we know we are not representing pedophiles?” False Memory Syndrome Newsletter.
Peter Freyd: Misinformation concerning child sexual abuse and adult survivors, Charles L. Whitfield, Joyanna L. Silberg, Paul Jay Fink, page 15