The false memory movement of the early 1990’s nearly killed me.
If I hadn’t gone underground I don’t know if I’d still be alive today
In 2002 Stephanie Dallam (1) wrote that:
“A study of 113 adult victims of childhood sexual abuse in Ottawa found that although many of the women had corroborative evidence for their memories, over one-half had been accused by someone of having false memories. The women reported that exposure to false memory rhetoric led to increased symptoms of anxiety and depression, increased self-doubt about their memories, and an overall slowing of the progress of therapy (2)
Dallam writes that during the 1990’s some therapists in the UK became worried that they could be accused of implanting false memories and therefore suggested to clients that their memories might be false. She cites a newspaper report about a teenager who committed suicide after being told that her memories of sexual abuse were false. The mother of the deceased said
“She had been told her abuse was part of false memory syndrome. Two weeks later she took an overdose of prescription medication and died. I believe that had my daughter been believed, she would have stayed at the unit and would be alive today.” (3)
There is a need for research on what may happen to people when they are told that their memories are false.
A members survey of an Australian false memory movement ( now no longer in operation ) found that
only 58% of those surveyed were able to comment on the condition of the person supposedly suffering from false memory.
7% of this 58% had committed suicide
A further 15% of this 58% had attempted suicide. (4)