Did any good come out of the False Memory Movement?

Not yet written…. still thinking about this one……


Did any good come out out the false memory movement?

If it did then it would seem to relate to improved methods of psychotherapy

For example the this book    mentions a onference that was held in 1997 in response to the false memory movement wih the purpose of clarifying how psychotherapists should use hypnosis so as not to create so-calle false memories (page vii).

And here is Martin Orne writing about “pseudo memories” and post hypnosis amnesia



The Information War on Dissociation

In 2011 a book was published in the UK called Attachment, Trauma and Multiplicity: Working with Dissociative Identity DisorderIt contained chapters by people with different professional backgrounds who encounter those who suffer from dissociation. 

The response of the British Journal of Psychiatry was to publish a book review written by a psychiatrist who is also a member of the US false memory club.

This false memory psychiatrist used this review to express his concern that the mental health charity MIND publishes information for people suffering from dissociative disorders and to repeat the old false memory mantra that dissociative disorders are iactrogenic and caused by therapy.

Personally I am very glad that MIND publishes information for people suffering from dissociative disorders and I am also very glad that the British Journal of Psychiatry published the following letter  by Remy Aquarone which was critical of the review (  highlights mine )

I was saddened by Harold Merskey’s review of the second edition of Attachment, Trauma and Multiplicity: Working with Dissociative Identity Disorder (edited by Valerie Sinason).1

My sadness was not primarily caused by his critical assessment of some of the material presented, but by his inference that dissociative identity disorder and dissociative disorders in general do not exist

. Anyone unfamiliar with dissociative disorders reading his comments would be forgiven for being persuaded of this.

Dissociative disorders have been recognised in both DSM-IV and ICD-10 for some 25 years now.

Yet among psychiatrists in particular, they continue to be denied or misdiagnosed, causing serious re-traumatisation for a significant number of patients.

Merskey writes of the absence of ‘critical statement[s] by a professional society’, but fails to cite the acknowledged leaders in the field, the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD; www.isst-d.org) and the European Society for Trauma and Dissociation (ESTD; www.estd.org).

The ISSTD includes among its members a number of eminent psychiatrists and psychologists and it has produced extensive online guidelines on treatment

. The charity First Person Plural, in association with the ESTD and Cheshire & Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, has produced a training and information DVD.2

Furthermore, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s guidelines accept the existence of dissociative disorders. It has not yet produced a treatment protocol for this condition and recommends that clinicians follow the guidelines of the best informed organisation (www.isst-d.org/education/treatmentguidelines-index.htm).

It should be noted that many psychiatric services and community mental health teams across the country are now implementing treatment protocols for dissociative identity disorder and dissociative disorders that are not only effecting significant changes for patients but are also bringing about cost savings for services.3

 I would like to add that I have watched the two training and information DVDs mentioned by Aquarone. They have both been very useful to me personally and can be purchased here.

Dissociation or Repression? A sleight of hand


Twenty two years ago, in 1994, the words Dissociative Identity Disorder replaced the words “Multiple Personality Disorder” in the DSM.

The earliest false memory tracts therefore could be forgiven for using the word repression rather than dissociation. But there really isn’t any excuse today.

There is also a growing body of evidence-based research for the exisitence of dissociative disorders. David Spiegel, founder of the Stanford Centre on Stress and Health has described dissociative disorders as extreme form of PTSD. (1)

A list of their research publications related to dissociation can be found here

False memory clubs ignore this and instead prefer to refer, Ad infinitum to repression, the movies and that old chestnut Sybil.

( It would appear that the Speigels have moved on – but not the false memory gang )

When false memory advocates tell the media and courts that repression is not a quantifyable concept they are playing a sleight of hand.

Research such as that done at the Centre on Stress and Health  about  the relationship between trauma and dissociation, not the relationship btween trauma and repression.

By playing with words in this way, false memory advocates deliberately set out to mislead people who are not aquainted with the prospect of dissociation.




(1) http://www.dana.org/Cerebrum/2008/Coming_Apart__Trauma_and_the_Fragmentation_of_the_Self/








Book Reading List


From time to time I see books that I would like to read to further my knowledge about so-called false memory rhetoric.

So I’ve decided to list to some of them here.














This book by John M Conley and William O’Barr looks interesting. It has a chapter called Forensic linguistics which I would like to read. the authors write:

“What concerns us is the prospect of a major field of research – in this case the study of memory and its interaction with language – having its developement driven primarilly by the needs of a class och litigants”

Another book I would like to read is the Sociology of Memory edited by  Noel Packard


And I would like to read the following book, and indeed ALL the writing that the authors  Janice Doane and Devon Hodges have produced


Case studies of so-called false memory

The False Memory Movement makes lavish use of case studies which describe so-called happy families that are destroyed by the non-existent recovered memory therapy

In 2014, the Indy could published the following quote from the UK false memory club

“We’re not talking about people who have snippets of memories of abuse or a feeling that something was wrong in the past, then remember more during therapy. This is about people who spontaneously produce a memory that’s completely out of the blue and completely out of character,”

Increasly though, its becoming hard for false memory clubs to find examples of now-destroyed-previously-perfect families. This is because it is possible for those who are interested to find alternative infomation about the case on-line.

An example of this is the case of that is currently mentioned on the US false memory club’s website.

It refers to a case in Michigan, USA where a therapist is facing a lawsuit brought about by parents of a client. The parents allege that the therapist used something they call recovered memory therapy and implanted the client with false memories.

It’s possible to read about this case on-line and come to alternative conclusions.

I am not writing this in support of the therapist concerned. I think the therapist did the wrong thing when a minor reported incest in a therapy session. Instead of taking imediate safeguarding measures on behalf of the client, the therapist seems to have attempted some kind of in-therapy confrontation between the client and their alleged abuser. The therapist does not seem to have reported the situation to the authorites for several months.

It seems that in Michigan counsellors or therapists are not among the professions that are mandated to report child abuse.

My alternative reading of this case study is as follows:-

The alleged abuser is part of a marital couple with fundamentalist christian beliefs that has homeschooled their children in the US state of Michigan. Michigan does not require parents to register children who are homeschooled and the state authories do not even know how many there are.

The couple in question have four children three of whom are adult and have left their childhood home. These now adult children all allege that pysical and emotional abuse took place in their childhood home. One of them also alleges sexual abuse. Another of them obtained legal emancipation from his parents before the age of 18.

The forth child is still at home and has a leaning disability that means that they will not be able to leave the family home in the way that the siblings have done.

It would seem to me that the state should be concerned about the welfare of this child even if it cannot be proved that sexual abuse occured in this family.

Suing the therapist  that one of the children visited for a duty of care to third parties would appear to be a push for even futher negligence of the rights of homeschooled children in Michigan. It has very little to do with the so-called non-existent recovered memory therapy







The nature / nuture debate

Deborah Orr has pushed an article in yesterday’s Guardian on the mental illness and the nature / nuture question

I once heard somebody say that we should be pleased that the nature / nuture debate exists because it gives us something to wonder  and talk about.

It would be very interesting to know if the nature / nuture question will be solved in my lifetime, but I rather think it might not because it is partly an existential question and as such it won’t go away too easily.

Then there’s the added complication that, although there is lots of research being done in this area, the people who beleive in nuture are doing their research and those that believe in nature are doing theirs. And will the twain meet? Hardly, in an increasingly corporate run reseach industry.

Then there’s the other complication that beleiving in nature or nuture seems to go in fashions, rather like hairstyles. And it’s not possible to predict what the fashion will be like in thirty years time.

But one thing I don’t understand is false memory proponents who hold that it is possible for a psychotherapist to iactrogenically induce false memories in clients after one or two sessions… whilst at the same time holding that long term abuse could not have  affected the personality in any way.

I look forward to seeing if someone will have solved this question in 30 years time.



There is currently an Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse being conducted in the UK. It’s scope is to find out

“Allegations of the involvement of politicians in child sexual abuse are reported on the one hand as evidence of a paedophile conspiracy… and on the other as evidence of a modern-day witch-hunt.

“It is the role of this inquiry to move from the realms of rumour and speculation, allegation and counter-allegation, to the assessment of objective facts.”


this is a quote from Judth Herman

About a year ago, I received a phone call from Lawrence Wright, a reporter who was working on a sensational crime story involving allegations of cult rituals and incest. He was seeking my opinion because of my professional knowledge of sexual and domestic violence. We talked about the issues in the case for about an hour. Or, rather, we argued, for Wright made no effort to hide the fact that he strongly disagreed with my views. I was relieved to find that he eventually decided not to use any material from our interview in his two-part story, “Remembering Satan,” which appeared in The New Yorker in May 1993.
The facts of the case, briefly, are as follows: In 1988, Paul Ingram, a deputy sheriff in Olympia, Wash., confessed to sexually abusing his two daughters, corroborating their reports. Appeal courts have since ruled that this initial confession was properly obtained. On prolonged and repeated questioning, however, Ingram claimed to remember committing more and more horrific crimes. Police investigators, believing they had uncovered a Satanic cult, resorted to dubious methods of interrogation, pressuring Ingram, his daughters and other family members to come forward with increasingly grotesque allegations and to implicate others. Two men whom Ingram and his daughters named in their statements were arrested. The charges against them were eventually dropped when it became clear that the investigation was hopelessly muddled. Ingram, sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to the original charge of incest, has now recanted all of his confessions, contending that they were coerced.
“Neither of us will ever know what really happened in this case,” I pointed out to Wright. (I paraphrase our conversation from memory, since I did not take notes at the time). “Ingram might be innocent. He might be guilty of incest. He might be guilty of additional crimes. There may or may not have been a sex ring or a cult. How can you pretend to know the truth?” Wright acknowledged that the facts of the case were subject to more than one interpretation. But his mind was made up: some of the crimes that Ingram and his daughters described were so horrendous that he simply could not believe they might have occurred. Furthermore, Wright reasoned, if any of the allegations in this case were false, then all must be false, and if they were false in this case, then they must be false in numerous other cases. …

The Death of a Syndrome

It’s offical. False Memory Syndrome no longer exists.

It is dead, kaput, buried, gone

That is according to the leading UK specialist on false memory and member of the UK false memory club

You can read what they have to say here:-

Normal people, with normal brains, have false memories all the time. Our brains are beautifully flexible, which allows us to have capacities like intelligence, creativity, and problem-solving. One price of this flexibility is that we sometimes get our memories wrong.

A syndrome, however, is not a normal feature. A syndrome is characterized by symptoms, and a symptom is “a physical or mental feature that is regarded as indicating a condition of disease”.

But false memories aren’t a disease. We all have them. Having them is healthy and normal. We may not like our false memories, and they can have disastrous legal repercussions, but even in the worst cases they are still just the products of healthy brains. (1)


I am very very relieved (I think)

I am pleased that it is official that there is no longer a Regisited British Charity working to spread the idea that I am suffering from a syndrome.

They may still think that I suffer from false memories but I can live with that.  It is not half as bad as being accused of having a syndrome.

I should go out and celebrate!

But I also feel a bit confused. Who takes responsibility for the fact that I and others were smeared with accusations that we were suffering from this syndrome in endless newspaper articles and publications written by the false memory people?

It becomes apparent why the UK false memory club has recently created a new website with older articles ( and the S-word ) omitted.

I wonder if they are going to issue an apology to the people wrongly accused of having syndromes?


(1) Shaw, Julia Stop calling it false memory syndrome. Scientific American.  Feb 2016

Cheit, Ross `False Memory Syndrome` is Politics, not Jargon