From Colin A. Ross, 1995: The writer is the brother of the man who co-founded the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. He is writing to WGBH about a program called 'Divided Memories', which you may have seen, that was supposed to be an investigation of memory. This letter also went to Congress and to the press, so it's a public letter. It's just unfortunate that the press, as far as I know, didn't pick it up. 'Gentlemen: Peter Freyd is my brother. Pamela Freyd is both my stepsister and sister-in-law. Jennifer and Gwendolyn [their daughters] are my nieces. There is no doubt in my mind that there was severe abuse in the home of Peter and Pam, while they were raising their daughters. Peter said (on your show, 'Divided Memories') that his humor was ribald. Those of us who had to endure it, remember it as abusive at best and viciously sadistic at worst. The False Memory Syndrome Foundation is a fraud designed to deny a reality that Peter and Pam have spent most of their lives trying to escape. There is no such thing as a False Memory Syndrome. It is not, by any normal standard, a Foundation. Neither Pam nor Peter have any significant mental health expertise. That the False Memory Syndrome Foundation has been able to excite so much media attention has been a great surprise to those of us who would like to admire and respect the objectivity and motives of people in the media. Neither Peter's mother (who was also mine), nor his daughters, nor I have wanted anything to do with Peter and Pam for periods of time ranging up to more than two decades. We do not understand why you would 'buy' such an obviously flawed story. But buy it you did, based on the severely biased presentation you made of the memory issue that Peter and Pam created to deny their own difficult reality. For the most part you presented very credible parents and frequently quite incredibly bizarre and exotic alleged victims and therapists. Balance and objectivity would call for the presentation of more credible alleged victims and more bizarre parents, While you did present some highly regarded therapists as commentators, most of the therapists you presented as providers of therapy were clearly not in the mainstream. While this selection of examples may make for much more interesting television, it certainly does not make for more objectivity and fairness. I would advance the idea that 'Divided Memories' hurt victims, helped abusers and confused the public. I wonder why you thought these results would be in the public interest that Public broadcasting is funded to support.
It was after a Frontline television documentary screened in the US in 1995 that the Freyds' public profile as aggrieved parents provoked another rupture within the Freyd family, when William Freyd made public his own discomfort.'Peter Freyd is my brother, Pamela Freyd is both my stepsister and sister-in-law,' he explained. Peter and Pamela had grown up together as step-siblings. 'There is no doubt in my mind that there was severe abuse in the home of Peter and Pam, while they were raising their daughters,' he wrote. He challenged Peter Freyd's claims that he had been misunderstood, that he merely had a 'ribald' sense of humour. 'Those of us who had to endure it, remember it as abusive at best and viciously sadistic at worst.' He added that, in his view, 'The False memory Syndrome Foundation is designed to deny a reality that Peter and Pam have spent most of their lives trying to escape.' He felt that there is no such thing as a false memory syndrome.' Criticising the media for its uncritical embrace of the Freyds' campaign, he cautioned:That the False Memory Syndrome Foundation has been able to excite so much media attention has been a great surprise to those of us who would like to admire and respect the objectivity and motive of people in the media. Neither Peter's mother nor his daughters, nor I have wanted anything to do with Peter and Pam for periods of time ranging up to two decades. We do not understand why you would 'buy' into such an obviously flawed story. But buy it you did, based on the severely biased presentation of the memory issue that Peter and Pam created to deny their own difficult reality. p14-14 Stolen Voices: An Exposure of the Campaign to Discredit Childhood Testimony
It is a political fight between a group of well-financed, well-organized people whose freedom, livelihood, finances, reputations, or liberty is being threatened by disclosures of child sexual abuse and--on the other hand--a group of well-meaning, ill-organized, underfinanced, and often terribly naive academics who expect fair play.
We propose that use of the term “false memory” to describe errors in memory for details directly contributes to removing the social context of abuse from research on memory for trauma. As the term “false memories” has increasingly been used to describe errors in details, the scientific weight of the term has increased. In turn, we see that the term “false memories” is treated as a construct supported by scientific fact, whereas other terms associated with questions about the veracity of abuse memories have been treated as suspect. For example, “recovered memories” often appears in quotations, whereas “false memories” does not (Campbell, 2003).The quotation marks suggest that one term is questioned, whereas the other is accepted as fact. Accepting “false memories” of abuse as fact reflects the subtle assimilation of the term into the cognitive literature, where the term is used increasingly to describe intrusions of semantically related words into lists of related words. The term, rooted in the controversy over the accuracy of abuse memories recalled during psychotherapy (Schacter, 1999), implies generalization of errors in details to memory for abuse—experienced largely by women and children (Campbell, 2003).from: What's in a Name for Memory Errors? Implications and Ethical Issues Arising From the Use of the Term “False Memory” for Errors in Memory for Details, Journal: Ethics & Behavior
One year later the society claimed victory in another case which again did not fit within the parameters of the syndrome, nor did the court find on the issue. Fiona Reay, a 33 year old care assistant, accused her father of systematic sexual abuse during her childhood. The facts of her childhood were not in dispute: she had run away from home on a number of occasions and there was evidence that she had never been enrolled in secondary school. Her father said it was because she was ‘young and stupid’. He had physically assaulted Fiona on a number of occasions, one of which occurred when she was sixteen. The police had been called to the house by her boyfriend; after he had dropped her home, he heard her screaming as her father beat her with a dog chain.As before there was no evidence of repression of memory in this case. Fiona Reay had been telling the same story to different health professionals for years. Her medical records document her consistent reference to family problems from the age of 14. She finally made a clear statement in 1982 when she asked a gynaecologist if her need for a hysterectomy could be related to the fact that she had been sexually abused by her father. Five years later she was admitted to psychiatric hospital stating that one of the precipitant factors causing her breakdown had been an unexpected visit from her father. She found him stroking her daughter. There had been no therapy, no regression and no hypnosis prior to the allegations being made public.The jury took 27 minutes to find Fiona Reay’s father not guilty of rape and indecent assault. As before, the court did not hear evidence from expert witnesses stating that Fiona was suffering from false memory syndrome. The only suggestion of this was by the defence counsel, Toby Hedworth. In his closing remarks he referred to the ‘worrying phenomenon of people coming to believe in phantom memories’.The next case which was claimed as a triumph for false memory was heard in March 1995. A father was aquitted of raping his daughter. The claims of the BFMS followed the familiar pattern of not fitting within the parameters of false memory at all. The daughter made the allegations to staff members whom she had befriended during her stay in psychiatric hospital. As before there was no evidence of memory repression or recovery during therapy and again the case failed due to lack of corroborating evidence. Yet the society picked up on the defence solicitor’s statements that the daughter was a prone to ‘fantasise’ about sexual matters and had been sexually promiscuous with other patients in the hospital.~ Trouble and Strife, Issues 37-43
The people who support and defend those accused of child sexual abuse indiscriminately, those who join organizations dedicated to defending people who are accused of child sexual abuse with no screening whatsoever to keep out those who are guilty as charged are likewise not necessarily people engaged in an objective search for the truth. Some of them can and do use deceit, trickery, misstated research, harassment, intimidation, and charges of laundering federal money to silence their opponents.Those of us who are the recipients of bogus lawsuits and frivolous ethics charges and phony phone calls and pickets outside our offices must know more than the research to survive such tactics. We must know something about endurance and about the importance of refusing to be intimidated.Confessions of a Whistle-Blower: Lessons Learned Author: Anna C. Salter. Ethics & Behavior, Volume 8, Issue 2 June 1998
Dr. Lois Jolyon West was cleared at Top Secret for his work on MKULTRA. West's numerous connections to the mind control network illustrate how the network is maintained, not through any central conspiracy, but by an interlocking network of academic relationships, grants, conferences, and military appointments. Some doctors in the network were not funded directly by the CIA or military, but their work was of direct relevance to mind control, non-lethal weapons development, creation of controlled dissociation and the building of Manchurian Candidates.
In musing on all that occurred in the course of the several years of harassment the error I decided I made, and others frequently make, is to assume that we are all academics trying to sort out intellectual issues. The False Memory Syndrome Foundation is a political organization composed primarily of individuals who have been accused of child sexual abuse and those who support and defend them, sometimes for considerable sums.Such people are not going to be swayed by the research. They start with a fixed point of view-the need to deflect threat. That threat comes in the form of public exposure, loss of income, monetary penalties, or even in some cases incarceration. I heard a colleague say recently, in referring to the 30 or so studies that document the existence of recovered memory, “You get to the point where you wonder when is it going to be enough.” It is never going to be enough if the point is not searching for the truth but protecting a particular point of view.Confessions of a Whistle-Blower: Lessons Anna C. Salter. Ethics & Behavior, Volume 8, Issue 2 June 1998
In court the next morning I sat at a table in the judge’s chambers. On the other side of the table, close enough for me to reach across and touch him, sat Ted Bundy. He’s adorable, I thought, surprised at my first impression, because I’d pictured him in my mind as brooding, dark, intense disdain (p. 83).(Loftus testified as a defense expert for Ted Bundy in 1976, Bundy was found guilty of aggravated kidnapping)
The thought had occurred to me as I was flying to Salt Lake City earlier that day that Ted Bundy might offer to let me stay in his apartment” (p. 74).(Loftus testified as a defense expert for Ted Bundy in 1976)
Two other highly vocal FMSF Advisory Board members are Dr Elizabeth Loftus and Professor Richard Ofshe. Loftus is a respected academic psychologist whose much quoted laboratory experiment of successfully implanting a fictitious childhood memory of being lost in a shopping mall is frequently used to defend the false memory syndrome argument. In the experiment, older family members persuaded younger ones of the (supposedly) never real event. However, Loftus herself says that being lost, which almost everyone has experienced, is in no way similar to being abused. Jennifer Freyd comments on the shopping mall experiment in Betrayal Trauma (1996): “If this demonstration proves to hold up under replication it suggests both that therapists can induce false memories and, even more directly, that older family members play a powerful role in defining reality for dependent younger family members. (p. 104). Elizabeth Loftus herself was sexually abused as a child by a male babysitter and admits to blacking the perpetrator out of her memory, although she never forgot the incident. In her autobiography, Witness for the Defence, she talks of experiencing flashbacks of this abusive incident on occasion in court in 1985 (Loftus &Ketcham, 1991, p.149)In her teens, having been told by an uncle that she had found her mother's drowned body, she then started to visualize the scene. Her brother later told her that she had not found the body. Dr Loftus's successful academic career has run parallel to her even more high profile career as an expert witness in court, for the defence of those accused of rape, murder, and child abuse. She is described in her own book as the expert who puts memory on trial, sometimes with frightening implications.She used her theories on the unreliability of memory to cast doubt, in 1975, on the testimony of the only eyewitness left alive who could identify Ted Bundy, the all American boy who was one of America's worst serial rapists and killers (Loftus & Ketcham, 1991, pp. 61-91). Not withstanding Dr Loftus's arguments, the judge kept Bundy in prison. Bundy was eventually tried, convicted and executed.
Treating Abuse Today 3(4) pp. 26-33TAT: No. I don't know anymore than you know they're not. But, I'm talking about boundaries and privacy here. As a therapist working with survivors, I have been harassed by people who claim to be affiliated with the false memory movement. Parents and other family members have called or written me insisting on talking with me about my patients' cases, despite my clearly indicating I can't because of professional confidentiality. I have had other parents and family members investigate me -- look into my professional background -- hoping to find something to discredit me to the patients I was seeing at the time because they disputed their memories. This isn't the kind of sober, scientific discourse you all claim you want.
Treating Abuse Today (Tat), 3(4), pp. 26-33Freyd: I see what you're saying but people in psychology don't have a uniform agreement on this issue of the depth of -- I guess the term that was used at the conference was -- robust repression.TAT: Well, Pamela, there's a whole lot of evidence that people dissociate traumatic things. What's interesting to me is how the concept of dissociation is side-stepped in favor of repression. I don't think it's as much about repression as it is about traumatic amnesia and dissociation. That has been documented in a variety of trauma survivors. Army psychiatrists in the Second World War, for instance, documented that following battles, many soldiers had amnesia for the battles. Often, the memories wouldn't break through until much later when they were in psychotherapy.Freyd: But I think I mentioned Dr. Loren Pankratz. He is a psychologist who was studying veterans for post-traumatic stress in a Veterans Administration Hospital in Portland. They found some people who were admitted to Veteran's hospitals for postrraumatic stress in Vietnam who didn't serve in Vietnam. They found at least one patient who was being treated who wasn't even a veteran. Without external validation, we just can't know --TAT: -- Well, we have external validation in some of our cases.Freyd: In this field you're going to find people who have all levels of belief, understanding, experience with the area of repression. As I said before it's not an area in which there's any kind of uniform agreement in the field. The full notion of repression has a meaning within a psychoanalytic framework and it's got a meaning to people in everyday use and everyday language. What there is evidence for is that any kind of memory is reconstructed and reinterpreted. It has not been shown to be anything else. Memories are reconstructed and reinterpreted from fragments. Some memories are true and some memories are confabulated and some are downright false.TAT: It is certainly possible for in offender to dissociate a memory. It's possible that some of the people who call you could have done or witnessed some of the things they've been accused of -- maybe in an alcoholic black-out or in a dissociative state -- and truly not remember. I think that's very possible.Freyd: I would say that virtually anything is possible. But when the stories include murdering babies and breeding babies and some of the rather bizarre things that come up, it's mighty puzzling.TAT: I've treated adults with dissociative disorders who were both victimized and victimizers. I've seen previously repressed memories of my clients' earlier sexual offenses coming back to them in therapy. You guys seem to be saying, be skeptical if the person claims to have forgotten previously, especially if it is about something horrible. Should we be equally skeptical if someone says I'm remembering that I perpetrated and I didn't remember before. It's been repressed for years and now it's surfacing because of therapy. I ask you, should we have the same degree of skepticism for this type of delayed-memory that you have for the other kind?Freyd: Does that happen?TAT: Oh, yes. A lot.
Treating Abuse Today 3(4) pp. 26-33Freyd: The term multiple personality itself assumes that there is single personality and there is evidence that no one ever displays a single personality.TAT: The issue here is the extent of dissociation and amnesia and the extent to which these fragmentary aspects of personality can take executive control and control function. Sure, you and I have different parts to our mind, there's no doubt about that, but I don't lose time to mine they can't come out in the middle of a lecture and start acting 7 years old. I'm very much in the camp that says that we all are multi-minds, but the difference between you and me and a multiple is pretty tangible.Freyd: Those are clearly interesting questions, but that area and the clinical aspects of dissociation and multiple personalities is beyond anything the Foundation is actively...TAT: That's a real problem. Let me tell you why that's a problem. Many of the people that have been alleged to have false memory syndrome have diagnosed dissociative disorders. It seems to me the fact that you don't talk about dissociative disorders is a little dishonest, since many people whose lives have been impacted by this movement are MPD or have a dissociative disorder. To say, Well, we ONLY know about repression but not about dissociation or multiple personalities seems irresponsible.Freyd: Be that as it may, some of the scientific issues with memory are clear. So if we can just stick with some things for a moment; one is that memories are reconstructed and reinterpreted no matter how long ago or recent.TAT: You weigh the recollected testimony of an alleged perpetrator more than the alleged victim's. You're saying, basically, if the parents deny it, that's another notch for disbelief.Freyd: If it's denied, certainly one would want to check things. It would have to be one of many factors that are weighed -- and that's the problem with these issues -- they are not black and white, they're very complicated issues.
The major goal of the Cold War mind control programs was to create dissociative symptoms and disorders, including full multiple personality disorder. The Manchurian Candidate is fact, not fiction, and was created by the CIA in the 1950’s under BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE mind control programs. Experiments with LSD, sensory deprivation,electro-convulsive treatment, brain electrode implants and hypnosis were designed to create amnesia, depersonalization, changes in identity and altered states of consciousness. (p. iii)“Denial of the reality of multiple personality by these doctors [See page 114 for names] in the mind control network, who are also on the FMSF [False Memory Syndrome Foundation] Scientific and Professional Advisory Board, could be disinformation. The disinformation could be amplified by attacks on specialists in multiple personality as CIA conspiracy lunatics” (P.10)“If clinical multiple personality is buried and forgotten, then the Manchurian Candidate Programs will be safe from public scrutiny. (p.141)
At times I am flabbergasted that my memory is considered false and my alcoholic father's memory is considered rational and sane. Am I not believed because I am a woman? If Peter Freyd were a man who lived in my neighborhood during my childhood instead of my father, would he and his wife be so believable? If not, what is it about his status as my father that makes him more credible?
Both incest and the Holocaust have been subject to furious denial by perpetrators and other individuals and by highly organised groups such as the False Memory Syndrome Foundation and the Committee for Historical Review. Incest and the Holocaust are vulnerable to this kind of concerted denial because of their unfathomability, the unjustifiability, and the threat they pose to the politics of patriarchy and anti-Semitism respectively. Over and over, survivors of the Holocaust attest that they were warned of what was happening in Poland but could not believe it at the time, could not believe it later as it was happening to them, and still to this day cannot believe what they, at the same time, know to have occurred. For Holocaust deniers this is a felicitous twist, for their arguments denying the Holocaust and therefore the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state capitalize on the discrepancies of faded memory. In the case of incest, although post-traumatic stress disorder, amnesia, and dissociation represent some of the mind's strategies for comprehending the incomprehensible, incest deniers have taken advantage of inconsistencies to discredit survivor testimony.
Richard Gardner (2004), the creator of ‘‘parental alienation syndrome’’, considers that the ‘‘parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is primarily a disorder of childhood. The false memory syndrome (FMS) is a disorder of young adults, primarily women. They share in common a campaign of acrimony against a parent’’. In reality, these so-called syndromes are both used to discredit the testimony of individuals who claim to have been abused, sexually or otherwise. When adults report that they have recovered memories of childhood abuse, others may claim that they have false memory syndrome. When children do not repress or forget the abuse, if there is no period of amnesia, then some may claim that they have parental alienation syndrome (Ceci & Bruck, 1995; Dallam, 1999).