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---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: email@example.com Date: Tue, 21 Nov 1995 06:13:30 UTC Subject: Re: Wanted: information on False Memory Syndrome NOTE: Although nobody else has put a spoiler in, I am going to. This post deals with False Memories [as opposed to FMS or FMSF]. If you have trouble with anything to do with that topic, DON'T READ THIS POST. You have hereby been warned. Rick (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote: : >email@example.com (tankchick) wrote: : Julia wrote: : >I have heard - and talked to - many other men and women who have : >survived abuse in their childhood and are quite sure that these ARE : >in fact their memories. From what I've read about this Foundation and : >this syndrome - there is no scientific proof to show that you CAN : >brainwash someone to that degree. Though,I must admit I have read of and : >heard of cases where "toxic" therapists have encouraged sexual abuse and : >satanic cults when the problem is highly different. : I don't understand the last part of the last sentence. I think you mean : (do you?) that some therapists have been overzealously suggesting : sexual abuse histories to clients displaying PTSD symptoms associated : with SA and other traumas. That is really unfortunate, incompetent, and : tragic. But that isn't 'false memory' - it's a response, from a vulnerable : mind, to suggestion and maybe their attempt to get validation through inventing : abuse scenarios. Which doesn't mean they weren't abused, just that the : stories may not be true or completely true. But again, that isn't 'false : memory.' As to a 'syndrome' - a syndrome is a collection of conditions, Actually, that is exactly what is often referred to as "false memory", depending on whose works you are looking at. I recently did a paper for one of my psychology classes on "False Memories", and did a LOT of reading on the subject -- of both the "pro" and the "con" side. Much of the work on the "pro" side, including all of the Loftus papers I was able to find, use an example similar to what was given above [therapist suggesting SA as the explanation for the symptoms a patient presents with, and the patient eventually coming up with SA scenarios, which in fact did NOT occur in history [although other abuse incidents may or may not have occurred], and for which they had no inkling even existed before entering therapy, as being the prototype example for "False Memories". There are many documented cases of such events occurring. Whether such events are able to form some kind of "syndrome" or not is up for debate, of course. However, the scenario you just gave, Rick, *IS* what false memories are all about. Person A has a problem for which they go to a therapist about. The problem could be anything from having trouble sleeping at night through to having PTSD or an eating disorder. They have no idea that they were sexually [or, satanically, or whatever is appropriate to the scenario] abused; in many instances that have been cited in the literature, they have no idea that they were abused in ANY way shape or form at ALL. The therapist, for whatever reason [sometimes honest belief, other times with malicious intent, other times due to personal agendas which interfere with their work], believes the patient is a survivor of sexual abuse [or satanic abuse, or some other form of abuse]. The *therapist* suggests this "diagnosis" to the patient. Over time, often combined with more suggestion, or with therapy methods that have come into question [such as suggestive hypnotherapy, , the use of drugs, etc.], the patient comes to believe that they were SA'd, and they develop the memories to support such a belief. In a certain chunk of individuals who go through such a process [the exact percent is debated, but estimates range from about 8% up to about 65%], the memories that they come up with did NOT in fact occur in "real life" [i.e. in history, in the life of the patient, etc.]. I.e. they are a false memory. Why the patient ends up having the memories is subject to any of a number of possible reasons. In some cases, it is because they are highly suggestible, and the techniques used by the therapist are highly suggestive -- in essence, the memory is "implanted" and the individual is able to fill in enough details to make it seem "real". In various studies, mildly traumatic memories have been successfully "implanted" into individuals. Ethically, nobody is going to go about *deliberately* attempting to implant memories of something like sexual abuse, so studies to absolutely show that it can be done are NOT going to happen. The closest that can be done is to look at individuals after the fact, evaluate hypnosis transcripts, etc.,a and see what happened. There are very well documented cases of highly suggestive techniques being used on unsuspecting patients., or on, for example, children in legal cases. Leading questions, given to the "right" person, can lead to getting the answers that are "desired", unfortunately. What IS up for debate is how many [i.e. "what percent"] of individuals exposed to those methods go on to "fall into" the "trap" and end up "going along" with the suggestions, for whatever reason. For some, as Rick suggested, it may be a desire for validation, for others, it may be because now they have a plausible "answer" to why they have the problems they do, still for others, it may simply be because they are highly suggestible, believe in their therapist, and end up going along with the suggestions. In many, if not most, cases there is simply a case of bad therapy [though not necessarily a bad therapist; just a therapist using improper methods] combined with a highly suggestive person who has a problem and is looking for answers and a solution -- there's no malice involved, although it can obviously end up doing a lot of harm to a lot of people. : A bunch of quacks and loonies. Through the research I did for my paper, I would definitely agree that some of the FMSF are "quacks and loonies", and some definitely are perps in their own right. OTOH, some really are victims of "bad therapy" as some put it -- the events of which they are accused simply did NOT occur; that isn't to say that for some of those falsely accused there wasn't other abuse taking place, or in other cases that the events described didn't occur, but in fact occurred as described, but with a DIFFERENT assailant. But some members of the FMSF ARE genuinely being falsely accused of abuse they did not commit. Other members of the FMSF, and other individuals who are NOT members of FMSF, but who do think that false memories occur in some percentage of cases [e.g. Ellen Bass [?], author of courage to Heal, even admits that there are some cases of false memory, she just feels it is a very low percentage of a specific subset of cases; whereas FMSF or some of its factions, would have one believe it is a much higher percentage of that subset], may very well have not been accused of abusing, they may even be survivors themselves, but they still believe false memories can and do occur. There is also a chunk of people [both in and out of the FMSF] who expand the subset of agreed-upon false memory "scenarios" to include a much larger set of people. In all the research I was able to read/see, everyone on *both* sides agreed that false memories DO occur, with some percentage [the percentage being debatable] within a very specific subset of people [that subset who go to the therapist with a problem, have no idea or suspicion that they were abused in ANY way, and the therapist uses questionable techniques on them [such as hypnosis with highly suggestible and leading scripts, a variety of drugs, etc.]. Some people chose to expand this group and claim that FM is widespread, or that it occurs in a plethora of different scenarios. Perhaps they are correct, but there is little to no evidence to suggest that they are. While it is entirely possible, and highly probable, that there are cases of false memories outside the agreed-upon subset, the number of such cases is likely nowhere near as high as *some* would like the public to believe [e.g. perhaps they claim it is a million cases when it is in fact 100; can we ignore those 100? No. But should those other 999,900 cases be dismissed because of the 100? Also, no.]. Looking at the issue from the other side, there is little evidence that suggests that traumatic "repression" of memories exists to the extent that some would like people to believe [i.e. for example, that the majority of SA survivors repress all memory of ever having been SA'd]. There is much scientific unknown wrt repression of memories. There is also much question as to whether significant numbers of people can totally repress traumatic events that occur over a lifetime -- i.e. can a large number of people repress all memories of a very abusive childhood, and in many cases in fact have memories of a very happy, unabusive childhood?]. Further, what some people refer to as "repressed" memories are actually not repressed memories. Lastly, there is debate in the scientific community about just what definition to use for repressed memories [although there are a couple of widely accepted definitions; and using those, the term "repressed memory" is WIDELY mis-used]. Some repression of memories does undoubtedly exist, as do other forms of "forgetting that incidents occurred. There are also people who have severe amnesia regarding chunks of their lives, in some cases to the point where they don't even have any idea of the nature of what occurred during the timeframes in question. There is, however, a great deal of debate over what exactly memory repression entails [the problem being more that people misuse the term], as well has what kind of numbers of patients one is talking about [i.e. how common is it and how common are other forms of forgetting]. There is also great uncertainty as to how exactly memory works, but that is more form a lack of understanding human brain physiology then anything else. For the original poster in this thread -- it may be more productive for your friend to write about False Memories, as opposed to FMS, if they are allowed. While false memories are acknowledged to exist, FMS is highly debated, as it is unclear if the false memory cases that exist are somehow manifest of some "syndrome". Speaking with the professor about their objectives of the paper may help; they may have erroneously used the FMS term, or may have in fact very deliberately used it. : Yup. Just what we *don't* need, right? I mean it was bad enough just : dealing with this SA stuff, then the shit hit the fan 2 years ago with : FMS and we had a whole new set of issues and hostilities to deal with : to add to the bubbling stew of incredibly difficult and painful recovery : issues and processes. Yep. A whole lot of people do NOT understand what has been "agreed" upon wrt False Memories. Many people don't realise that there is only a very specific subset of cases that is dealt with when referring to false memory, although there is a percentage of other cases where false memories are involved, their number by most reckonings is likely very small, OR are cases of mistaken facts, not entirely false events, or they are cases where the specific memory may be entirely false,m but there was other abuse going on at the time. Those latter people end up in a grey area of sorts, but aren't those referred to, generally, when "False Memories" are referred to. Unfortunately, because there is a lot of confusion, especially among the general public, as to what exactly "False Memories" are, a lot of legitimate survivors/victims get shafted, and their stories, while genuine, are suspected or undermined. Unfortunately, it also means that legitimate abusers [i.e. those who really DID abuse] are often able to hide under organizations such as the FMSF, claiming that they in fact did not abuse, when in fact they did. SW.Email | Astraea home | Multiplicity | Religion | z Politics | Psychiatric Abuse | Anti-FMSF | Silly |