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


4 thoughts on “The Death of a Syndrome

  1. Yes this is a great piece by Ross Cheit. I was dismayed when I went to a recent reading of his memoir by Richard Dawkins – a man who claims to rely totally on scientific evidence – which he introduced with a reference to the possibility of ‘false memory syndrome’. He referred to it with an apparently unquestioning assumption of it as fact, whereas there is no scientific evidence of this so-called syndrome.


  2. Richard Dawkins’s reading was part of UEA’s 2015 autumn literary festival Thinking about it further I wonder if the flippant way he referred to it perhaps indicated that he wasn’t taking it seriously, and not that he believed in it. Lynda


    1. Thank you Lynda! My impression is that the tabloid press never took the FM syndrome seriously and that was one reason why the term became so popular quickly “Oh i have FM syndrome… can’t remember what i was doing last Saturday”.
      It was the broadsheets that took the term more “seriously” pontificating about whether this syndrome existed or not. Shame on them.


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