Misc. false memory watch


Dr. Judith Herman, professor of psychiatry at Harvard medical school, said the foundation has made a habit of using case studies of accusers who later recant as ostensible “proof” that recovered memories are always coaxed.

 “That scenario is a silly caricature of psychotherapy,” Dr. Herman said.

From the Baltimore Sun . dec 1994

On the whole, says psychiatrist Judith Herman, author of Father-Daughter Incest, the coverage “favored the position of those accused of sexual abuse, allowing them to claim the support of educated opinion, while relegating their accusers to the realm of ‘mass hysteria.'” ( Katy Butler)

Herman argued that only one side of the false memory debate the accused parents were organized and eager to speak to the media, while the other side composed of incest survivors and their therapists often didn’t want to identify themselves and wanted mostly to be left alone. ( Butler )

Herman also said

“The very name FMS is prejudicial and misleading… we have no evidence that the reported memories are false. We only know that they are disputed.” [57] ( Herman quoted by Judith Simon  1995).



It also seems that turns out  (according to Ha’aretz feb 2007) the president of the US fm hoax

is an expert in the storage and reconstruction of words in the memor y  and an educational psychologist. (slovenko 2002) and has studied

 the relation between language and thought. ( Gleitman )

Ross Cheit has written about a case study conducted by a well known false memory researcher

it crosses an ethical line to employ a private investigator to identify and interview family members connected to an anonymous case study. It also violates the professional norms of psychologists to engage in such activities without the knowledge or approval of those affected, with the intention of changing family dynamics.

An interesting history of the US false memory club is found in a book by Alison Winter called Memory: Fragments of a Hisotory

Winter argues that the FM archive in the US is one of the largest archives of a campaigning organisation that is available to the public. So in one sense it is able to generate disussion about history – by saying that there WAS an epidemic of false memory i the 1990’s and by issuing warnings that it should not happen again

The ….. has been fortunate to find a safe haven for its archives in the Center for Inquiry Library in Amhurst, New York. Over recent years personal stories of the families have been edited to remove all personal identities so that these accounts, together with professional articles, programme recordings and other items, can be made available to future generations of scholars, researchers and mental health practitioners

(Uk fm club newsletter. vol 17 no 2)

Meanwhile, back in the UK, March 2016 the Guardian has published yet another article about false memory. The number of times the word trauma is mentioned? None. The number of times the word dissociation is mentioned. None

The less aggressive British version of the Foundation dropped the word syndrome… ( Hacking)

The FM group did not mention multiple personality at first… but a few months later they did ( p 123) this is because some of the main interests of those on the advisorary board – Paul McHugh, Martin Orne, Harold Merskey, Fred Frankel – were all psychiatrists who were skeptical of MPD / DID. ( Hacking ) Hacking calls them anti-multiples. So the anti-multiples joined the families and they held their first conference at Valley Forge which Hacking calls a symbolic choice in April 1993.

This is six months before the Odin C  T was set up in the UK ( that donates money to the Uk fm club )

( Valley Forge s an important site in the history of the American Revolution of independence )

Ernest Hilgard was there too, for expertize in hypnotism, and the sociologist Richard Ofshe

There were also well known debunkers on the board such as James Randi and Richard Gardener.


This Canadian article was written in 1993 and it pretty much applies to the Uk club still today – especially the comparisons with aliens.

False Memory Label Invented By Lobby Group


And here is some interesting reading from 2014

A document published on the 12th of October, 2014 entitled “Opinion Regarding the Scientific Standing of Repressed and Reconstructed Memories,” signed by forty-seven prominent academics, has been widely circulated in the press as support for barring recovered memories of childhood abuse as evidence admissible in Israeli courts.

Contrary to the views expressed in that statement, we support the Court’s decision to admit the memories into evidence and hold that such ‘recovered’ memories are no more but no less reliable than other forms of memory retrieval, and should be relied upon in reaching decisions in court using the same evaluative tools employed to assess other forms of eyewitness testimony.

The statement refers to “serious dispute amongst the community of psychological scientists” that repressed memories for trauma can ever occur. Two broad arguments are offered. First, they claim that credible research shows that people can falsely believe in events that have never occurred, and therefore an alternative explanation for a given recovered memory may exist. Second, they assert that no litmus test yet exists that can guarantee that a specific recovered memory is true. We contend that both continuously recalled as well as recovered memories of alleged childhood sexual abuse deserve to be evaluated in a court of law based on a more careful reading of current research.

As academic and clinical specialists in the field of trauma, we urge that the reader to note carefully what the statement does NOT say. The document does NOT state that researchers have gathered continuous and recovered memories of alleged childhood sexual abuse, examined them for evidence of truth and falsity, and determined that the latter as a class are less credible than the former. Such comparative research does exist, but the virtually universal finding is that recovered memories of abuse are no less accurate (and no more accurate) than are continuous memories. Continuous memories AND recovered memories may be true or false, or a mixture of accurate and confabulated information. No reasonable scholar would deny this.

Research projects investigating the accuracy of recovered memories have taken many forms. Some researchers interview alleged perpetrators or recovered memory victims, finding convincing evidence for a subsample of memories (including confession by the accused individual). Another study design involves recontacting children whose trauma had been documented in prior research studies or clinical records decades before. Results of these studies show that some of these now-adult individuals do not recall the prior documented trauma, and others report that they had periods of time when they did not recall these documented traumas, but subsequently recalled them.

On the other hand, clever experimental paradigms have been designed to press individuals to recall “lost memories” that have been created by the experimenters or gathered from the research participants’ relatives. This type of research does find that a minority of people will claim to recall pieces of a relatively benign memory that the researcher has created from whole cloth. However, subjects will also recall details from the true memories that the researchers have gathered from the individual’s relatives, and which the subjects report that they had forgotten. The final result: evidence that memory is fallible and evidence that memories can be lost and found again.

It is true that there is no objective method to determine that the recovered memory is true before it is subjected to the examination of the court. The Opinion does NOT mention that the same is true of continuous memory. We would argue that the best evidence in recovered memory cases has taken exactly the same forms as it has in continuous memory cases that come to light after a period of time — witnesses to the act, biological evidence, contemporaneous statements, and confessions in the strongest cases, and strong circumstantial evidence that convince the trier of fact in the rest.

Finally, the authors of the Opinion imply, but do not state, that “believers that repressed-reconstructed memory is possible” are a minority among relevant scholars. In fact, since the 1990’s, “false memory syndrome” has been unsuccessfully championed again and again as an addition to the two most widely accepted compendiums of psychological and psychiatric diagnoses. It remains too controversial due to lack of sufficient scientific evidence to support inclusion. During this same period, the evidence for “repressed memory of trauma,” more scientifically labeled “Dissociative Amnesia,” has stood up to repeated examinations. The diagnosis of dissociative amnesia remains in place in the diagnostic manuals. 

The authors of the Opinion are correct that the controversy generated in the early 1990’s, when recovered memory evidence first entered the courtroom, brought to public awareness two warring factions. One group, largely trauma therapists, believed that recovered memories held a special truth and should not be questioned. Another group, largely nonclinical researchers, believed that no recovered memories were reliable. The largest group, consisting of most trauma researchers, many cognitive and biological researchers, and a large number of clinicians, believed that both false memories and recovered memories could occur. Studies since the First World War have repeatedly documented dissociative amnesia for combat in a subgroup of soldiers. Some of these soldiers were documented to later recall the dissociated information. On the other hand, a small minority of these soldiers was found to have confabulated or lied about these types of experiences.

The upswing in research and discussion from 1990 to the early 2000’s left both extreme groups in disrepute. Researchers leaning toward belief and disbelief met in Port de Bourgenay, France in 1996, sponsored by NATO, and discussed the issue for eleven days, contributing to resolution. By the end of this period, dozens of major psychological organizations had made public statements condemning both extremes, and surveys of both clinicians and academicians found few remaining followers of either extreme view. Representatives from cognitive psychology and clinical trauma psychology wrote conciliatory pieces in the literature, and the controversy died.

In the last twenty-five years since the explosion and resolution of this controversy, much more has been learned about dissociation and dissociative amnesia. Dissociation is more prominently, rather than less prominently featured in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5), including a new Dissociative Sub-Type of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The latter has been documented in many studies of individuals with PTSD. Indeed, in the DSM-5, dissociative amnesia for trauma remains a criterion symptom for the diagnosis of both PTSD and Acute Stress Disorder.

Cognitive researchers have more recently contributed evidence that all memory, not simply recovered memory, is reconstructive and should be examined closely. However, in contrast to beliefs expressed in the earlier Opinion, no evidence has emerged that lays a foundation to declare that recovered memories of trauma are a special class of memories that do not deserve fair and just evaluation in a court of law.


  1. ד״ר גילי אופיר, מרכז לטם לטיפול בטראומה מינית, בית חולים איכילוב
  2. ד״ר אודי אורן, נשיא EMDR Europe
  3. ד״ר רננה איתן, מנהלת מרפאה נוירופסיכיאטרית, בית חולים הדסה עין כרם
  4. ד״ר אודי בונשטיין, פסיכולוג קליני ראשי, בי״ח נהריה, יו״ר האגודה הישראלית להיפנוזה
  5. ד״ר שירי בן-נאים, מרפאה פסיכיאטרית, הדסה עין כרם
  6. ד״ר אהובה בני, מנהלת השירות הפסיכיאטרי, מרכז רפואי בני ציון, חיפה
  7. פרופ׳ דני ברום, האוניברסיטה העברית
  8. ד״ר נועה בר חיים, פסיכיאטרית, מרכז תמר
  9. ד”ר דליה ברנדס, יחידה לטיפול בטראומה נפשית אקוטית, בית חולים איכילוב
  10. ד״ר ענבל ברנר, בית חולים שלוותה
  11. ד״ר אורנה גורלניק, אוניברסיטת ניו יורק
  12. ד״ר שרון גיל, אוניברסיטת חיפה
  13. פרופ׳ קרני גינזבורג, אוניברסיטת תל אביב
  14. ד״ר הילה הרמלין קוטנר, פסיכולוגית קלינית בכירה
  15. ד״ר אפי זיו, אוניברסיטת תל אביב
  16. ד״ר כרמית כץ, אוניברסיטת תל אביב
  17. ד״ר יפעת כהן, פסיכיאטרית, מיסדת/מנהלת שותפה, מכון אופק לטיפול דיאלקטי-התנהגותי
  18. פרופ׳ מולי להד, מכללת תל-חי
  19. ד״ר אופיר לוי, המרכז האקדמי רופין, אוניברסיטת תל אביב
  20. ד״ר דוד ליבה, מנהל מחלקה, בית החולים מזרע
  21. ד״ר ערן לייטנר, מרכז לטם לטיפול בטראומה מינית, בית חולים איכילוב
  22. ד״ר עופר מאורר, בית הספר החדש לפסיכותרפיה
  23. ד״ר מיה מוכמל, אוניברסיטת חיפה
  24. ד״ר אביגיל מור, המכללה האקדמית תל חי
  25. ד״ר פטריסיה סיפריס, מנהלת מחלקה, מרכז רפואי לב השרון
  26. ד״ר נמרוד פיק, פסיכיאטר, המרכז לבריאות הנפש באר יעקב
  27. פרופ’ רות פת-הורנצ’יק, האוניברסיטה העברית והמרכז הישראלי לטיפול בפסיכוטראומה
  28. ד״ר חנה צור, האוניברסיטה העברית
  29. ד״ר אילן קוץ, פסיכיאטר
  30. פרופ׳ שאול שרייבר, מנהל המערך הפסיכיאטרי, בית חולים איכילוב
  31. ד״ר דניאלה שבאר-שפירא, אוניברסיטת תל אביב
  32. Prof. Judie Alpert, Founder of Division of Trauma Psychology of the American Psychological Association, New York University, USA
  33. Prof. Judith Armstrong, University of Southern California, USA
  34. Dr. Kathryn Becker-Blease, Oregon State University, USA
  35. Dr. Suzette Boon, Supervisor, Trauma Center, Zeist, The Netherlands
  36. Prof. Bethany L. Brand, Towson University, USA
  37. Prof. Stephen E. Braude, Emeritus Professor, University of Maryland Baltimore County, USA
  38. Prof. John Briere, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, USA
  39. Prof. Daniel P. Brown, Harvard Medical School, USA
  40. Dr. Laura S. Brown, Past President, Trauma Division, American Psychological Association, USA
  41. Prof. Lisa D. Butler, University at Buffalo, USA
  42. Prof. Etzel Cardeña, Lund University, Sweden
  43. Prof. Ross Cheit, Brown University, USA
  44. Dr. Richard A. Chefetz, Distinguished Visiting Lecturer, William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis & Psychology, New York City, USA
  45. Prof. Jim Chu, Harvard Medical School, USA
  46. Prof. Catherine C. Classen, University of Toronto, Canada
  47. Dr. Christine A. Courtois, Washington, DC, USA
  48. Prof. Carlos A. Cuevas, Northeastern University, USA
  49. Prof. Constance J. Dalenberg (Distinguished), California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University, USA
  50. Prof. Martin Dorahy, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
  51. Prof. Amber N. Douglas, Mount Holyoke College, USA
  52. Dr. Nel Draijer, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  53. Prof. Helena Espirito Santo, Instituto Miguel Torga, Portugal
  54. Prof. Charles F. Figley, Distinguished Chair in Disaster Mental Health at Tulane University and School of Social Work Professor and Associate Dean for Research, USA
  55. Dr. Janina Fisher, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, USA
  56. Prof. Brad Foote, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University, USA
  57. Prof. Steven Frankel, University of Southern California, USA
  58. Prof. Jennifer J. Freyd, University of Oregon, USA; Editor, Journal of Trauma and Dissociation
  59. Prof. Silke Birgitta Gahleitner, Donau-Universität Krems, Austria
  60. Dr. Richard B. Gartner, Founding Director of Sexual Abuse Service, William Alanson White Institute for Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and Psychology, New York, USA
  61. Prof. David H. Gleaves, University of South Australia, Australia
  62. Prof. Steven N. Gold, Nova Southeastern University, USA, Editor, Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice and Policy
  63. Dr. Anabel Gonzalez, University Hospital of A Coruña, Spain
  64. Prof. Jean M. Goodwin, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, USA
  65. Prof. Thomas G. Gutheil, Harvard Medical School, USA
  66. Dr. Christine Hatchard, Monmouth University, USA
  67. Prof. Janna A. Henning, Adler School of Professional Psychology, USA
  68. Prof. Judith L. Herman, Harvard Medical School, USA
  69. Dr. Jim Hopper, Harvard Medical School, USA
  70. Prof. Elizabeth Howell, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis
  71. Prof. Sheldon Itzkowitz, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis
  72. Prof. Philip Kinsler, Geisel School of Medicine, Darthmouth, USA
  73. Prof. Richard Kluft, Temple University School of Medicine, USA
  74. Prof. Christa Krüger, University of Pretoria, South Africa
  75. Prof. Marilyn Korzewkwa, McMaster University, Canada
  76. Prof. Ruth Lanius, University of Western Ontario, Canada
  77. Prof. Richard J. Loewenstein, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA
  78. Dr. Giovanni Liotti, MD, Post- graduate School of Clinical Psychology, Università Pontificia Salesiana, Rome, Italy.
  79. Prof. Alexander McFarlane, University of Adelaide, Australia
  80. Prof. Warwick Middleton, University of Queensland, Australia
  81. Prof. Andrew Moskowitz, Aarhus University, Denmark
  82. Dr. Ellert R.S. Nijenhuis, psychotraumatology researcherDepartment of Psychiatry, Assen, The Netherlands
  83. Dr. Pat Ogden, Founder/Director, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, USA
  84. Dr. John A. O’Neil, McGill University, Canada
  85. Dr. Ken Pope, researcher, former chair of ethics committees, American Psychological Association and American Board of Professional Psychology, USA
  86. Dr. Luise Reddemann, University of Klagenfurt, Austria
  87. Prof. Margo Rivera, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  88. Dr. Colin A. Ross, The Collin Ross Institute, USA
  89. Dr. Anca Sabau, Child psychiatrist, ESTD executive board member, Romania
  90. Prof. Vedat Şar, Emeritus, Istanbul University Faculty of Medicine, Turkey
  91. Prof. Ingo Schäfer, University Medical Center Hamburg, Germany
  92. Prof. Alan W. Scheflin , Professor of Law Emeritus, Santa Clara University, USA
  93. Dr. Yolanda Schlumpf, University of Zurich, Psychological Institute, Division of Neuropsychology, Switzerland
  94. Dr. Joyanna Silberg, Executive Vice-President, Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence, USA
  95. Prof. Tom L. Smith, University of California, San Diego, USA
  96. Prof. David Spiegel, Stanford University School of Medicine, USA
  97. Prof. Helle Spindler, Aarhus University, Denmark
  98. Dr. Pam Stavropoulos, Head of Research and Clinical Practice Adults Surviving Child Abuse, Australia
  99. Kathy Steele, MN, CS, Adjunct Faculty, Emory University School of Nursing, USA
  100. Prof. Paula Thomson, California State University, USA
  101. Prof. Onno van der Hart, Emeritus, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  102. Dr. Amelia van der Merwe, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  103. Prof. HGJM Eric Vermetten, Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands
  104. Prof. Lenore E. Walker, Professor, Nova Southeastern University, Center for Psychological Studies, USA
  105. Dr. Fran S. Waters, DCSW, LMSW, LMFT, Former ISSTD president, USA
  106. Prof. Rachel Yehuda, Director, Traumatic Stress Studies Division, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, NY, USA
  107. Prof. Dr. Sahika Yuksel, Emeritus, Istanbul University Medical School, Turkey

Here is another interesting article from Ha’aretz

It’s difficult not to be disappointed by the position statement issued recently by 47 Israeli scientists and researchers in the fields of cognitive psychology, the brain sciences and memory research on the subject of repressed and reconstructed memories. The signatories objected to the readiness of the courts to convict defendants based on victims’ memories of sexual abuse in childhood. They called on the Supreme Court to reconsider whether repressed memories that surfaced in the consciousness of female complainants many years after the alleged events should constitute admissible evidence. They also claimed that a deep dispute exists within the community of scientists researching the mind, the brain and human behavior concerning the possibility that a traumatic event, such as sexual abuse, would be erased completely from one’s conscious autobiographical memory only to resurface suddenly years later. The statement added that no objective way presently exists to evaluate the reliability of repressedreconstructed memories. The timing of the statement – in disturbing proximity to the date on which the Supreme Court announced its decision to deny an appeal of a district court conviction – made the scientists’ position statement a convenient target for public criticism. It is not surprising that many mental health professional in Israel considered the declaration an attack on the court, and an attempt to pull the ground from under the struggle against sexual violence perpetrated on children. An oped piece published earlier this month in Haaretz Hebrew edition by Prof. David Navon, a psychologist and an Israel Prize laureate in the social sciences, unwittingly reveals a bit of what the learned public statement almost managed to hide. Namely, that not only was this an attack on the judiciary, but also that it was aimed at undermining the right of dynamic-oriented clinical psychology to claim true knowledge of any sort about the world – a right that the brain sciences and cognitive psychology maintain is their purview alone. There are any number of ways available to invalidate a scientific or ideological stance. One of the most widespread is by revising history. Navon appears to undertake the mission of rewriting the history of the mental-health sciences with relish. He dismisses the professional term “repressedrecovered memories” as speculation dating from the 19th century that owes its popularity to its main proponent: Sigmund Freud. Freud is referred to by Navon as a pseudo-scientist and a fomenter of mythology. The concept of the repression of traumatic memory, Navon avers, is not to be found among the groundbreaking insights of psychoanalysis. He also describes the idea of an awakening of a repressed memory as a “bizarre phenomenon” that has entered culture thanks to popular books and blockbuster movies. Whole civilizations have tried to impart meaning and significance to the kind of “bizarre phenomena” – i.e., dreams, revelations, involuntary lapses in memory, slips of the tongue, incestuous wishes, and deceptions of the consciousness and the senses – that David Navon attributes to modern culture, movies and a certain Sigmund Freud. We can only wish for Navon, then, that his own contributions to the study of man will not be consigned to oblivion and will, in the future, gain fairer and more respectable historical appreciation. ‘The whale and the polar bear’ “The whale and the polar bear, it has been said, cannot wage war on each other, for since each is confined to his own element they cannot meet.” With these words, Freud cautioned his students, the “depth psychologists,” not to be drawn into theoretical arguments with workers in the field of psychology of consciousness who do not recognize the postulates of psychoanalysis and who look on its results as artifacts.. But the period in which the “whales” of depth psychology could allow themselves to adopt an approach of non-dialogue with the “polar bears” of cognitive psychology has passed. The dispute between the two central streams of psychology has long since emerged from the confines of academia and therapy rooms and trickled into every corner of our lives. It’s not only the soon-to-be extinct whales of psychoanalysis who should be leery of the affair that psychology has been conducting with the brain sciences in recent years. The science-based discourse of our time – which seeks to reduce human beings to a sum of behaviors that can be empirically measured – encapsulates a deterministic and essentialist conception of humanity, of which the battle over the validity of repressed memory that resurfaces constitutes only a small part. Gerald Edelman, a neurobiologist and Nobel laureate in medicine, referred to this reductionist craze in cognitivist psychology: “One day, the most visible practitioners of cognitive psychology and the most arrogant empirical neurobiologists will finally understand that they have been the victims of an intellectual con-trick.” It’s never too late to recall that scientific knowledge is not knowledge of objective reality but knowledge of what is examinable by means of the scientific method. We can suppose that even the researchers who signed the public statement but who have never treated trauma victims know, or at least feel, that the subject of science and the subject of the mind are not identical. Whether or not they choose to remain confined in the objectivist fortress, those of them who think that traumatic memory, repression, splitting and dissociative amnesia are pseudoscientific speculations, rather than evidencebased mental phenomena, should find a way to express this opinion publicly that doesn’t come at the expense of victims of sexual abuse whose cases are being dealt with in a court of law. “The heart has not revealed it to the mouth,” we read in Kohelet Rabbah, a commentary on Ecclesiastes. Allow me to hypothesize that behavioral psychologists and brain researchers, too, have an unconscious, and that their hearts know a great deal more about human nature than they imagine or come up with in their laboratory experiments. What’s at issue here is not the legitimate dispute over the character of the dialectical relations between facts and fantasies in the life of the mind. Nor is it a part of the complex debate concerning the devastating impact of massive psychic trauma on memory formation and mental representation. After all, psychoanalysis was the first to call into question the dichotomy between internal reality and external reality, and it was Freud’s successors who noted the repeated reconstructions that underlie autobiographical memory. Freud coined the term “screen memory,” in reference to the constructive character of childhood memories, long before cognitive psychology came into the world. Our childhood memories, he argued, show us our earliest years not as they were, but as they appeared at the later periods when the memories were aroused. However, as I indicated, we would be mistaken if we view the public statement issued by the behavior and brain researchers as merely a contemporary, local version of the controversy between “whales” and “polar bears” over the authenticity of a recovered memory that emerges during psychotherapy. At hand is a completely different kind of debate that is equally dramatic: between those who are ready to accept the complexity of the human subject and the unavoidable uncertainties that are the constituents of his self-perception; and those who pretend to know the subject by applying absolute categories of truth or falsehood. It’s an encounter between psychology and “counterpsychology.” Let’s return for a moment to history. We are indebted to the late Amos Funkenstein, a historian and intellectual whose voice is sorely missed, for his important conceptual distinction between history and counter-history. Since ancient times, Funkenstein observed, counter-history has been a distinct genre of polemical historical writing whose aim is to distort the self-image and identity of the Other by destroying his collective memory. Counter-history, he argued, makes use of a rival’s most reliable sources in order to upend the memory that underlies his self-perception. Examples of counter-history cited by Funkenstein are the Marxist interpretation of history and the views of Holocaust-denying historians. The latter exploit the incomprehensibility and unfathomable nature of the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis to deny the very fact of their existence. What makes one story truer than another? How shall we distinguish between a legitimate revision of a historical narrative, or an approach based on a scientific interpretation, on the one hand, and a revision that is made up out of whole cloth, on the other? The answer is that the authors of counterhistory usually draw on the historical narrative they want to refute, and everything in the alternative narrative they propose is a reflection of the figure of the writer himself. This, then, is the interpretation I propose to the statement made by the 47 researchers. Both the timing of its publication and its content suggest that, amid the abundance of the streams and schools of psychology, a counter-psychology is emerging and developing, its whole purpose being to sow doubt and undermine the contention that it is definitely possible to know something about subjective and objective reality and about their interconnection by means of dynamic clinical psychology such as that which has been developed and enhanced in the past 120 years. The statement’s signatories describe the memory of sexual abuse as “sincere but false.” Let them not try to mislead us. Autobiographical memories, historical narratives and even court decisions may never be able to encompass the whole truth – but that fact does not allow us to discard them as though they are false. It is for that reason that therapists, historians and judges alike do not determine their position on the basis of one piece of evidence or one repressed-reconstructed memory alone. Those who signed the statement acted irresponsibly by exploiting a piece of scientific knowledge – that memories of childhood can be distorted — in order to pull the wool over the public’s eyes, question the legitimacy of the Supreme Court’s verdict, and divert onto a sensationalist course the important discussion about the implications massive psychic trauma bears for human memory. None of the distinguished scientists who signed the declaration would want to be remembered as having joined one of the more dubious families in the history of the sciences and ideas: the family of counter-scientists who use the truth in order to lie.



Here is a message from one of the people who invented the term false memory syndrome


Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000 13:20:11 -0400 (EDT)
From: Peter Freyd 

In 1997 Laura S. Brown, Ph.D. ran for the presidency of the American
Psychological Association (APA) on what was described as an "Anti-FMSF
platform" (she lost). Prior to that she had been a member of the
three-person pro-RMT team for the 1996 APA position paper on recovered
memories and she was Dr. Kenneth S. Pope's co-author of the APA's
"Recovered Memories Of Abuse, Assessment, Therapy, Forensics". Her
most recent appearance in the FMSF Newsletter was as a member of Dr.
Paul Fink's "Leadership Council". (I have appended a few of Dr.
Brown's more memorable quotes.)

Last August I posted the following:

                FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: AUGUST 25, 2000

  OLYMPIA. The state Department of Health has taken the following
  disciplinary actions against health care providers.....

  In June the Psychology Board charged Laura S. Brown, a psychologist
  in King County, license number PY00000615, with unprofessional
  conduct for crossing professional boundaries by entering into a
  friendship with a client, reversing roles by telling clients her
  problems and seeking their advice, and putting two clients in
  contact with each other. The allegations include divulging
  privileged information about one client to another, and vice-versa.

The latest news bulletin is from The Capital Times (Madison, WI.) --
excerpts from an article by Steven Elbow that appeared October 20:

  The keynote speaker at next week's Midwest conference on child
  sexual abuse has infuriated organizers by bailing for a better gig:
  the CBS show ''Survivor.''... Laura Brown, a psychologist known for
  her support of the theory that the repressed memories of abused
  children can be recovered through hypnosis, agreed to speak at the
  conference in Middleton a year ago.

  "In canceling her contract with us, she said her life was in
  disarray and she would be in Europe for three months," said
  conference co-organizer Jill Cohen. "In reality, she's going to be
  in Australia [from which Survivor will originate]." To say that
  Brown's eleventh hour snub miffed her would be an understatement.
  "To pull out of a keynote when 1,200 people are going to be waiting
  for a speaker, and then to leave us with no speaker -- that's pretty

  Cohen can find some solace in the fact that they may have had to
  pass on Brown anyway. She's facing a slew of charges of ethics
  violations in the state of Washington, including sharing personal
  information among three patients, not documenting her sessions and
  discontinuing treatments without helping her patients find
  alternative therapists. "When she called and pulled out of the
  conference, we assumed it was because of the ethics issue," Cohen
  said. "In reality she broke the conference with us for a better
  deal. She's fairly controversial.  She's problematic with people who
  feel that repressed memories of trauma is not valid science."

               Some previous appearences in the press:

    Central to the debate is "false memory syndrome," a theory that
says therapists, pastors, even police interrogators can get people to
make up memories of events that never occurred.
    Many therapists and children's advocates call the theory a hoax.
"There's no such thing as false memory syndrome," [Dr. Laura] Brown
                                                       By Leslie Brown
                                            September 11, 1994, Sunday
                                         The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)

    "Victims of Memory" is Pendergrast's 600-page attempt to exorcise
the demons that took away his daughters. Some people will see the book
as a father's ultimate act of love. Others will see it as a guilty
man's obsessive attempt to clear his name.
    "He does have a bias," said Laura Brown, a clinical psychologist
in Seattle, who opposes Pendergrast's belief that recovered memories
are made up. "We're assuming he's telling the truth when he says he
never did this, but how do we know?"
                                                       By Anne Rochell
                                                     December 11, 1994
                                  The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

    The conference is hosted by the False Memory Syndrome (FMS)
Foundation -- which has more than 4,000 members, all of whom say they
were falsely accused of abuse. It is the first such meeting to be
co-sponsored by a prestigious research institute [Johns Hopkins], and
that has made the recovered memory camp furious.
    "This is a nonexistent syndrome," said Laura Brown, a clinical
psychologist in Seattle, who believes memories can be repressed and
    "I was appalled when I saw that this conference was going on," she
                                                       By Anne Rochell
                                              December 18, 1994 Sunday
                                                      Cox News Service

       Excerpts from the 1997 Brown-for-APA-President website:
       (www.en.com/users/abackan/headline.htm but now defunct)

    The appearance of FMS has been explicitly blamed by its erstwhile
discoverers on misconduct by therapists, and frequently, in specific,
by feminist and lesbian therapists such as myself and my colleagues...
the goals of the false memory movement [are] ultimately designed to
uphold rather than subvert the power arrangements of patriarchal
culture, by privileging the voices of those who claim to be falsely
accused over all else, and declaring them to be always per se true,
and thus the voices of accusers as per se false...when I attempt to
examine the outcomes that would ultimately emerge from following the
directions of the false memory movement, as well as the actions
already taken by individuals who represent this movement, I see only
injustice and a silencing process going on...

...the control over this history of the family in general, and
specific individual families is at least as important, if not more so,
than the scientific realities, and that this attempt by the false
memory movement to reassert patriarchal control over the definition of
history and reality is the facet of the memory debate that potentially
can deform the practice of therapy and turn our hearts to stone...

...the False Memory Syndrome Foundation has proposed a way to end the
"epidemic" of FMS that they have identified by creating a new standard
of care in therapy. It is a standard that I perceive as undermining
the social justice narrative that has most therapists who work with
trauma survivors, because of who it empowers, and who it

...Paul McHugh, M.D. who teaches the standard of care segment of
several of the FMSF CE workshops, has argued in his writings on this
topic that when a client presents with either reported continuous or
reported delayed recall of childhood sexual abuse, the therapist
should refuse to accept this report at face value, and instead contact
the accused perpetrator/family member to ask them to participate in
the treatment (McHugh, 1993a, 1993b)...the power to define reality for
the client and write the client's personal narrative should not be
offered to the client,,,the job of the therapist is not empowerment
and desilencing, but, as I would define it, the on-going creation of
exile from self.

LONDON (Reuters) - British scientists say they have cast doubts on the
prevalence of False Memory Syndrome and the idea that recovered memories are
often bogus ones induced by therapists.

The theory that memories of events which never occurred can be constructed
by suggestion during therapy has been used successfully as a defense by
those accused of child abuse, to discredit children's testimony.

Researchers at University College London claim their study of data from 236
adults with recovered memories shows many are of true past events.

``There is now consistent evidence that 'False Memory Syndrome' cannot
explain all, or even most, examples of recovered memories of trauma,'' the
British Psychological Society said in a statement.

``There is increasing evidence that many recovered memories cannot be
explained by so-called False Memory Syndrome. To date there is no convincing
evidence for a specific False Memory Syndrome,'' Dr. Bernice Andrews, who
conducted the study, told Reuters.

``What we've shown is that a substantial proportion of these memories have
been corroborated,'' she said in a telephone interview.

Contrary to common belief, she added, not all repressed memories are about
childhood sexual abuse. They can result from many types of trauma and not
all are recovered during therapy.

``People often come into therapy because they have started to remember
things that have happened in the past. In our study around a third of cases
were people who came into therapy after recovering memories,'' said Andrews.

She and her colleagues interviewed 108 qualified therapists about the 236
patients. They said the most common triggers for recovering memories were
events concerning patients' own children that they associated with violence
or fear that they felt themselves.

Less often books, videos and memory recovery techniques were used to help
patients recall the events.

``Therapists in the majority of cases do not use aggressive, suggestive
techniques to get their clients to remember things. They (memories) come up
just as a matter of course during therapy and are often accompanied by a lot
of emotion as though the person is reliving the event in the present,''
Andrews explained.

The researchers said their study cannot prove that all recovered memories
are true.

``You certainly can't explain all instances of people recovering memories in
therapy in terms of so-called False Memory Syndrome,'' Andrews added.







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