During the 1990’s, several mental health professionals decided that people remembering childhood incest did so because they “wanted to.” I have recently learned that this idea is still being implemented by some psychiatrists and psychologists, and some people are being discouraged from attempting to find help when they show signs of having been sexually abused in childhood, but have no memory of it.
“Incest is a “simple” answer for one’s failures and emotional problems. It gives a woman an excuse as to why she cannot live up to social expectations like marriage, family, and a career.”
This is absurd.
Memories and accusations of incest and child rape create an incredibly complicated and painful situation that can lead to a temporary period of increased suffering that results from being cut off from one or more biological family members, called names, and from being disbelieved. Some people even lose their inheritance. Claims of incest is far from being a “simple” solution for anything.
“Accusations of abuse give a person a feeling of being accepted and a sense of finally belonging to a group of people. It gives them an excuse to play a victim.”
Human beings don’t normally enjoy looking weak or victim-like. It is usually a person who was victimized as a child who behaves like a victim as an adult.
Dr. Lief, an advocate for “false memory syndrome,” believes feminism could be to blame for repressed abuse memories, but this totally contradicts the “playing a victim” theory. Feminists are the last people who want to look like victims. Feminists are often strong and aggressively productive women. Feminism arose out of women wanting to stop being victims and to cease from being oppressed.
Dr. Lief derogatorily labels self-help groups and twelve step programs as the “recovery movement” but these groups are merely the vehicle which has enabled a number of people to finally face personal realities. Joining Alcoholics Anonymous and becoming sober might consequently cause a person to finally remember their history of child abuse. People are not alcoholics without reason; they are trying to drown pain. Alcohol keeps people numb.
“It is easier to blame someone else than to face one’s own problems and to change them.”
Holding a person responsible for a crime against a child is not about blaming them for the adult survivor’s personal problems. It is placing the responsibility for the abuse on the perpetrator, and it points to the root cause of the adult survivor’s difficulties in life. Finding the root cause of one’s problems is the only way to finding peace and healing.
Lynn Crook successfully sued her parents after remembering as an adult that she had been a victim of incest. In Crook vs. Murphy and Murphy, the judge showed his wisdom when he examined the defense’s claims of revenge. He could not find any evidence of vindictiveness in the case, in Lynn’s persona, or in her history. The court concluded that he did not see any reason for malevolence. He also did not find it to be a motive in the case. In fact, the judge felt that if malice had been a motive for Lynn to take legal action against her parents, then it would be the result of her having been the victim of incest, not due to fabrication of it.
“Clients are told by their therapist that recovering memories of child sexual abuse will help them overcome their problems.”
If memories, or a suspicion of childhood abuse, have already been established, then the therapist is not wrong, nor are they negligent in making this statement. It is absolutely true that a person can overcome suffering by remembering and facing their unresolved trauma.
If I had not remembered being a victim of incest, trauma, and physical abuse, I would most likely be on pharmaceutical drugs, divorced, or probably dead. I would have killed myself a long time ago from the physical pain I was constantly in, and from the mental anguish which no psychiatrist, psychologist, or medical doctor could help me with. It was only through psychoanalysis that I was able to heal from the disease that was attacking by mind and body.
If uncovering memories of unprocessed trauma is the path to a new life, then I would think a reasonable human being would embrace such a concept. With competent help, the person suffering will eventually overcome each phase of healing. With determination and patience, a previous victim of child sexual abuse, will turn their memories into something that can no longer hurt them consciously, physically, or emotionally. Anne Hart put it wonderfully, “After the information is made conscious, it can enter into normal declarative memory and fade into the past, rather than being stored as symptoms.”
“The therapist has made a misdiagnosis of child abuse. My daughter wasn’t abused. She just has a ‘Personality Disorder’.”
“Borderline Personality Disorder” and “Personality Disorder” have a direct link to severe childhood abuse. A study done on 290 inpatients that had been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder found that the patient’s BPD was caused by having been frequently abused as a child and that the abuse lasted more than a year. Other key reasons were that the person was vaginally or anally raped as a child, that the perpetrator used other kinds of violence, and the abuse was carried out by a primary care-giver….. often including more than one perpetrator. These are all commonly reported factors in cases of repressed sexual abuse memories.
The National Trauma Consortium says that eighty-one percent of adults who have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder were abused as a child. Common sense tells us that if a person displays signs of a Personality Disorder, shows symptoms of having been abused, and says they have recently remembered being abused, then the chances are excellent that they were a victim as a child —not suffering from some kind of chemical or hormonal imbalance, which is what the medical and mental health industry, and the FMS advocates often attribute to personality disorders.
Symptoms of Personality Disorder:
Trouble trusting others
The preceding symptoms are commonly experienced by those with continuous memories, as well as those with repressed memories, of child sexual abuse. Women are two to three times more likely to have a PD, and it is associated with having been a victim of incest as a child. Whitfield refers to the long list of physical, psychological, and emotional problems which stem from sexual abuse. He points out that they are the result of what the trauma does to a child, not a ‘defect’ in their personality.
Mental health problems, that are labeled as a “disorder,” are actually due to external influences projected onto a child by parents, siblings, and other significant people. The human mind has the ability to alter chemistry and hormones. This has been proven scientifically.
Tagging people with all kind of deficiencies can be detrimental to their ultimate well-being. Doing so causes many people to accept the medical diagnosis as ‘just a part of themselves,’ and they mistakenly feel that medication or “learning to live with it” is the only way to go forward. That is not moving forward. It is merely existing.
Experts who have worked with concentration camp survivors say the only way to effectively help the war victims to have a more peaceful life, is to mentally regress them back to the horrors of living under the Nazis.
William G. Niederland, M.D. found that by mentally taking war survivors back to the trauma, and working against their inclination to repress, suppress, and deny the trauma…they can heal their somatic and other symptoms. He suggests that an experienced therapist can even help the process of healing by using the “charged hypermnestic material” that comes to them in their dreams or nightmares in order to fill in memories which have not surfaced.
Niederland found that psychoanalysis was the best way to treat mentally disrupted Nazi concentration camp survivors. Many of the patients he treated displayed and expressed similar, if not identical symptoms, to those found in adults who had once mentally repressed having been sexual abused.
“False memory syndrome” advocates criticize the length of time that abuse survivors are in therapy, but Niederland found that because of the deep guilt, numb feelings, grief, and high number of somatic symptoms in previous prisoners of war, the process of healing was often difficult, slow, and long-term. He noted that his patients often suppressed their experiences. They denied their pain and trauma by literally putting it “out of existence.”
Survivors who say, “I want to remember” are often ridiculed, or told they should just “move on,” but without memory (good or bad), we lose a sense of ourselves. When traumatic memory is dealt with, then it can be acknowledged and attended to. Somatic and emotional symbols become coherent and spoken in language, instead of beating us down with physical symptoms or emotional problems. Survivors must truly experience their past –instead of denying it- and then be able to have dialogue about it. They can finally say “I was abused and now I can speak about it.”
Suffering left unattended can only cause damage. I don’t know where these critics of psychoanalysis expect the un-discharged emotions to go. It is like leaving a program with a virus inside your computer and saying “I don’t know what good it will do to find the infected program and remove it.”
If the traumatic material remains in the subconscious mind, it will always have control. No amount of positive thinking or medication will ever quiet it. On the contrary, positive thinking, behavioral therapy, and pharmaceutical drugs will eventually cause the subconscious mind to revolt. The unconscious gets very angry when it is ignored, minimized, or numbed with medication.
It is simple-minded and ignorant to think that a person with a massive amount of physical symptoms, severe depression, and debilitating emotional problems can just change their attitude towards life by ignoring them, or denying it by pharmaceutically medicating the disturbances taking place in their mind and body.
From proceedings in open court, The Superior Court of the State of Washington in and for the County of Benton, Lynn Crook Plaintiff, vs. Bruce Murphy and Lucille Murphy, and the marital community composed thereof, Defendants No. 91-2-0011-2-5 Verbatim Report of Proceedings, Proceedings had before the Honorable Dennis D. Yule, Superior Court Judge, in and for the County of Benton, on the 4th day of March, 1994, at Kennewick, Washington.
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