False Memory                                          

AFFECTED LIVES


Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)
Mistakes Were Made (but not by me):
Why we justify foolish beliefs,
bad decisions and hurtful acts.
by Carol Travis
Why do people dodge responsibility when things fall apart? Why the parade of public figures unable to own up when they screw up? Why the endless marital quarrels over who is right? Why can we see hypocrisy in others but not in ourselves? Are we all liars? Or do we really believe the stories we tell? Backed by years of research and delivered in lively, energetic prose, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) offers a fascinating explanation of self-deception—how it works, the harm it can cause, and how we can overcome it.

Victims of Memory by Mark Pendergast
 "Victims of Memory: Sex Abuse
Accusations and Shattered Lives
by Mark Pendergast

Creating Hysteria:  Multiple Personality Disorder
Creating Hysteria: Women
and Multiple Personality Disorder
Joan Acocella

"From 1985 to 1995 an estimated 40,000 Americans, most of them women, were told they suffered from multiple personality disorder. Feminists, funda= mentalists, and a substantial portion of the mental health community endorsed this "Sybil-ing" of America. Sensation-seeking television talk shows took up the MPD rallying cry. In Creating Hysteria, Joan Acocella tells a riveting tale of therapists betraying their patients, of a psychotherapy profession at war within its own ranks, and finally of expatients rising up and putting an And to the MPD scandal."
"Creating Hysteria exposes one of the most frightening mental rollercoaster rides taken by thousands of people in modern times. Joan Acocella brilliantly illuminates how the mental health profession spearheaded, perhaps inadvertently, a fin-de-siecle hysteria, the fallout from which will take us into the next millennium. Anyone who has ever been interested in mental health should read this book."--Elizabeth Loftus, (Past) President, American Psychological Society

"Immediately following the internationally reported $10.6 million Burgus v. Braun lawsuit in 1997, the "Recovered Memory Therapy" (RMT) industry collapsed.  Hospitals began to view 'Recovered Memory Therapy"'and 'Multiple Personality Disorder' (MPD) patients as million dollar malpractice liabilities.  Clinics were closed, licenses revoked, and practices curtailed.  Tragically, this pernicious theory lives on and must be carefully monitored."  
R. Christopher Barden, PhD, JD
January 2013




Monday, September 20, 2010 

“My Lie: Why I falsely accused my father"

For years, Meredith Maran believed her dad molested her. She talks about "recovered memory" and finding the truth.  By Michael Humphrey

More than 20 years ago, Meredith Maran falsely accused her father of molestation. That she came to believe such a thing was possible reveals what can happen when personal turmoil meets a powerful social movement. In her book “My Lie: A True Story of False Memory” (the introduction of which is excerpted on Salon), Maran recounts the 1980s feminist-inspired campaign to expose molestation, which hit feverish levels in 1988 with the book ‘The Courage to Heal.” As an early reporter on the story, Maran observed family therapy sessions, interviewed molesters and steeped herself in cases where abuse clearly took place. Meanwhile, she divorced her husband and fell in love with a woman who was also an incest survivor. Maran began having nightmares about her own molestation and soon what had been a contentious relationship with her father turned into accusations of unspeakable crimes. Eventually, she came to realize the truth. She was the person who had done wrong.

Toward the end of her memoir, her father asks her, “What I really want to know is how the hell you could have thought that of me.” Salon wanted to know, too. We spoke with Maran recently about how a false memory is born, what she thinks of “Courage to Heal” today, and what her story can teach us about such


READ MORE PUBLISHED STORIES OF PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCED THE TRAGEDY OF FALSE MEMORY IMPLANTATION HERE


dangerous political narratives as the undying “Obama is Muslim” lie.

For a reader new to your story, and perhaps even the recovered memory craze of the 1980s, can you explain briefly what happened to you?

During the 1980s and 1990s, tens of thousands of Americans — most of them middle-class, 30-something women in big cities, like me — became convinced that they’d repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse, and then, decades later, recovered those memories in therapy.

In the years leading up to that mass panic, I was working as a feminist journalist, writing exposés of child sexual abuse, trying to convince the world that incest was more than a one-in-a-million occurrence. In the process, I convinced myself that my father had molested me. After five years of incest nightmares and incest workshops and incest therapy, I accused my father, estranging myself and my sons from him for the next eight years.

In the early 1990s the culture flipped, and so did I. Across the country, falsely accused fathers were suing their daughters’ incest therapists. Falsely accused molesters were being freed from jail — and I realized that my accusation was false. I was one of the lucky ones. My father was still alive, and he forgave me.

Why write this book now?

In 2007, I was out for a walk with someone I wasn’t even that close to. She asked me if I’d ever done anything I was ashamed of and had never forgiven myself for. And without hesitation I said, yeah, when I was in my 30s I accused my father of molesting me, and then I realized it wasn’t true. She stopped walking and stood still, just staring at me and she said, “The same exact thing happened to me.” When I came home from that hike I started calling people I had known back then and speaking to some of the therapists I had seen during that period. With the exception of my ex-lover, every other person I talked to who had accused her father in the ’80s and early ’90s now believed she had been wrong. Being a journalist, you realize there’s a story there.

There’s an interesting arc in the book. As reports of molestation increase, you begin to believe you too were molested. And as reports of false memory increase, you realize that you were not, in fact, molested.

It’s a little embarrassing for a person who’s always been thought of as a critical thinker. There’s a lot about writing this book and putting it out there that’s embarrassing. It’s not exactly the most flattering portrait. I think if it were a novel my editor would have rejected it, because the protagonist wasn’t sympathetic enough. It really shocked me, I must say, to see how much influence the external had on the internal. That the most intimate emotions and relationships can be so affected by the dominant paradigm.

What surprised me was that your own discovery of molestation was more of a process than a single epiphany.

It really was a gradual thing. I don’t think there ever was a time when I would have bet a hot fudge sundae on it. I remember telling my brother, “I think, maybe, this happened.” And, of course, the statement of accusation is all it takes to put the wheels in motion. Either legally or in your family. One thing I’ve learned is the relevance of the phrase “the perfect storm.” Not only for me, but for a lot of  MORE