A personal experience with false memory syndrome

Anthony Temple

Let it be said at the beginning that I am an individual existing in a multiple system, and that I do not believe multiplicity is a therapeutic artifact, for ours is not; no therapist has ever told us we were multiple. Let it be said at the beginning that I despise the False Memory Syndrome Foundation and everything they stand for, because they are exploiting people who have experienced false memories, and they are exploiting many more people whose memories are true.

False memory syndrome is not something that is limited to a therapeutic milieu. It is a type of folie a deux in which one person gives up control, power and authority to another. It is, at heart, a type of B&D scening.

Having personally experienced FMS, I can say publicly that it is a sort of agreed-upon story that one lives as if it were fact. One can possibly give oneself FMS by means of reading or watching films and intensely taking to heart the information presented. However, it is generally easier if there are at least two participants, one the recipient of said memories, the other providing and reinforcing them. It need not be a therapist-client relationship. Let's call'em A and B.

In creating and maintaining false memories, it is assumed that B has knowledge of events in A's life of which A is unaware but takes B's word for it. As the narrative progresses, A is encouraged to form clear mental images of the events described or suggested by B, and to regard any related image or concept that spontaneously comes to mind as a memory. It helps if A believes he stands to gain something from close association with B and 'reclaiming' his memories; the goal could be improved mental health, a better understanding of one's past reincarnations, enhanced psychic ability, or simply a more intimate relationship with B.

The keys to a successful false-memory scenario are; denial of discrepancies in the narrative, denial or rewriting of one's actual memories, and a willingness to give one's life into the hands of another. It is necessary that A be convinced that B is in possession of knowledge which A himself does not have. It is also necessary that B herself be perceived (if not overtly present herself) as dominant in some way; as someone entitled to take some form of authority in A's life. (Again, it does not have to be a therapeutic relationship. B could say she was A's mentor in a previous life, for instance, or someone who's known about him for centuries.)

With the above ingredients you could make any number of puddings, pies, cakes and cookies. You can cause A to doubt his parental ancestry, behave as if he has psychic abilities like John Travolta's in "Phenomenon", or believe in all seriousness that he is multiple and that his various moods and flights of fancy are other selves striving for emergence. You can convince him he's Prince Gyanendra of Nepal for that matter. Temporarily, at least. Formal hypnosis is absolutely unnecessary in all of this; some psychological conditioning is all that's required.

In order to break the spell (and it is a kind of spell, although a psychological one) it may be necessary to get completely away from B and anything that reminds you of her. This is not always so easy, particularly if the game has involved the concept of telepathic communion, but it can be done. Once separated, one can begin to acknowledge the Large Holes In The Story and regain one's personal history.

Perhaps it is now easier to understand why I am so bitterly opposed to the idea that 'MPD is a disorder of memory'.

Death of a World Members of Cartaala explain what it was like to have their world disrupted by other people in a similar fashion and under similar pretenses.

If This Has Happened To You -- You Are Not Alone

Other Essays by Anthony Temple

Multiple Personality and the Media Why are we constantly portrayed as freaks?
Multiplicity Is Natural We have been sold a bill of goods about a "mental disorder".
On Integration Why it is neither necessary nor desirable... and may be impossible.
No More.. A tirade on multiplicity as sickness.
Our Truth For those of you who wish to help us out of our denial.
Validation and Language in Multiple Personality An answer to the often-asked question "Does this happen to anyone else?"
Removing Diagnostic Labels Why multiple personality does not belong in the DSM.
Why Activism? We strive to educate the public because other people tend to make it their business -- "You need HELP" -- when you come out multiple.
The Kaycee Nicole Thing On the Internet, you are who you say you are... use it wisely.

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