Some of your childhood traumas may be remembered with incredible clarity, while others are so frightening or incomprehensible that your conscious mind buries the memory in your unconscious.
In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it upon herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail.
A child who is being abused on an ongoing basis needs to be able to function despite the trauma that dominates his or her daily life. That becomes the job of at least one ANP [apparently normal part of the personality], whom the child creates to be unaware of the abuse and also of the multiplicity, and to “pass as normal” in the real world. The ANP is just an alter specialized for handling the adult world—in other words, the “front person” for the system.
It is necessary to make this point in answer to the `iatrogenic' theory that the unveiling of repressed memories in MPD sufferers, paranoids and schizophrenics can be created in analysis; a fabrication of the doctor—patient relationship. According to Dr Ross, this theory, a sort of psychiatric ping-pong 'has never been stated in print in a complete and clearly argued way'. My case endorses Dr Ross's assertions. My memories were coming back to me in fragments and flashbacks long before I began therapy. Indications of that abuse, ritual or otherwise, can be found in my medical records and in notebooks and poems dating back before Adele Armstrong and Jo Lewin entered my life. There have been a number of cases in recent years where the police have charged groups of people with subjecting children to so-called satanic or ritual abuse in paedophile rings. Few cases result in a conviction. But that is not proof that the abuse didn't take place, and the police must have been very certain of the evidence to have brought the cases to court in the first place. The abuse happens. I know it happens. Girls in psychiatric units don't always talk to the shrinks, but they need to talk and they talk to each other. As a child I had been taken to see Dr Bradshaw on countless occasions; it was in his surgery that Billy had first discovered Lego. As I was growing up, I also saw Dr Robinson, the marathon runner. Now that I was living back at home, he was again my GP. When Mother bravely told him I was undergoing treatment for MPD/DID as a result of childhood sexual abuse, he buried his head in hands and wept.(Alice refers to her constant infections as a child, which were never recognised as caused by sexual abuse)
I think repressing what happened is what saved me in my childhood. I was able to use my imagination to create happy events, but a little girl can carry only so much on her own.
Imagination and recollection of cherished memories of the pastimes are closely related. We do not recall memories verbatim. As our perspective changes regarding our place in the world, we shift through our recollections and revise our memories. People possess the ability to edit their memories by repressing unbearable episodes and highlighting incidences that generate fond memories. How we perceive and comprehend ourselves in the past, the present, and the future shapes our evolving sense of self. Humankind’s ability to repress unpleasant events and humankind’s ability to act as the solo editors of our germinating awareness of the world that we occupy is ultimately responsible for activating our metamorphosing sense of identity.
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.
It is dangerous to use our own ability to access non-traumatic memories as a standard against which we judge a trauma victim’s response.
The traumatic moment becomes encoded in an abnormal form of memory, which breaks spontaneously into consciouness, both as flashbacks during waking states and as traumatic nightmares during sleep. Small, seemingly insignificant reminders can also evoke these memories, which often return with all the vividness and emotional force of the original event. Thus, even normally safe environments may come to feel dangerous, for the survivor can never be assured that she will not encounter some reminder of the trauma.
One hundred twenty-nine women with previously documented histories of sexual victimization in childhood were interviewed and asked detailed questions about their abuse histories to answer the question Do people actually forget traumatic events such as child sexual abuse, and if so, how common is such forgetting? A large proportion of the women (38%) did not recall the abuse that had been reported 17 years earlier. Women who were younger at the time of the abuse and those who were molested by someone they knew were more likely to have no recall of the abuse. The implications for research and practice are discussed. Long periods with no memory of abuse should not be regarded as evidence that the abuse did not occur. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol 62(6), Dec 1994, 1167-1176
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
For many years there have been rumours of mind control experiments. in the United States. In the early 1970s, the first of the declassified information was obtained by author John Marks for his pioneering work, The Search For the Manchurian Candidate. Over time retired or disillusioned CIA agents and contract employees have broken the oath of secrecy to reveal small portions of their clandestine work. In addition, some research work subcontracted to university researchers has been found to have been underwritten and directed by the CIA. There were 'terminal experiments' in Canada's McGill University and less dramatic but equally wayward programmes at the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Rochester, the University of Michigan and numerous other institutions. Many times the money went through foundations that were fronts or the CIA. In most instances, only the lead researcher was aware who his or her real benefactor was, though the individual was not always told the ultimate use for the information being gleaned. In 1991, when the United States finally signed the 1964 Helsinki Accords that forbids such practices, any of the programmes overseen by the intelligence community involving children were to come to an end. However, a source recently conveyed to us that such programmes continue today under the auspices of the CIA's Office of Research and Development. The children in the original experiments are now adults. Some have been able to go to college or technical schools, get jobs. get married, start families and become part of mainstream America. Some have never healed. The original men and women who devised the early experimental programmes are, at this point, usually retired or deceased. The laboratory assistants, often graduate and postdoctoral students, have gone on to other programmes, other research. Undoubtedly many of them never knew the breadth of the work of which they had been part. They also probably did not know of the controlled violence utilised in some tests and preparations. Many of the 'handlers' assigned to reinforce the separation of ego states have gone into other pursuits. But some have remained or have keen replaced. Some of the 'lab rats' whom they kept in in a climate of readiness, responding to the psychological triggers that would assure their continued involvement in whatever project the leaders desired, no longer have this constant reinforcement. Some of the minds have gradually stopped suppression of their past experiences. So it is with Cheryl, and now her sister Lynn.
The unconscious mind always operates in the present tense, and when a memory is buried in the unconscious, the unconscious preserves it as an ongoing act of abuse in the present of the unconscious mind. The cost of repressing a memory is that the mind does not know the abuse ended.
Sexual abuse is also a secret crime, one that usually has no witness. Shame and secrecy keep a child from talking to siblings about the abuse, even if all the children in a family are being sexually assaulted. In contrast, if a child is physically or emotionally abused, the abuse is likely to occur in front of the other children in the family, at least some of the time. The physical and emotional abuse becomes part of the family's explicit history. Sexual abuse does not.
We say, It wasn't that bad. It was all my fault. I’m making all this stuff up. All my life, I spoke bitterly of my mother's treatment of me as a child.Friends asked, “What did she do to you?“ I couldn't really describe it, and in frustration would say, “Well, she didn't lock us up in closets. in fact, my mother behaved much worse than that, but by focusing on the empty closet, I avoided looking at what waited beyond it.
To forget and to repress would be a good solution if there were no more to it than that. But repressed pain blocks emotional life and leads to physical symptoms. And the worst thing is that although the feelings of the abused child have been silenced at the point of origin, that is, in the presence of those who caused the pain, they find their voice when the battered child has children of his own.
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.
In general, the more dysfunctional the family the more inappropriate their response to disclosure. Never expect a sane response from an insane system.
I became skilled at covering my tracks, filling in the blanks. Sometimes the blanks were never filled. At other times, I would recall places where I had been or things I had done as if from a dream, which made the playback of my father and other men abusing me seem I even less real, fantasies conjured up from my imagination, not my memory. Perhaps somebody else’s memory. I didn’t think of myself as having mental-health problems. You don’t at sixteen. I thought of myself as being special, highly strung, moody.
Dissociation, a form of hypnotic trance, helps children survive the abuse…The abuse takes on a dream-like, surreal quality and deadened feelings and altered perceptions add to the strangeness. The whole scene does not fit into the 'real world.' It is simple to forget, easy to believe nothing happened.
Memory repression thrives in shame, secrecy, and shock. The shame and degradation experienced during sexual assault is profound, especially for children who have no concept of what is happening to them or why. Sexual abuse is so bizarre and horrible that the frightened child feels compelled to bury the event deep inside his or her mind.
To take a specific example, a researcher in the Journal of Traumatic Stress interviewed 129 women with documented histories of child sexual abuse that occurred between the ages of 10 months and 12 years. Of those, 38 percent had forgotten the abuse. Of the remaining women who remembered, 16 percent reported that they had for a period of time forgotten but subsequently recovered their memories.  Thus, during that time a false negative recorded for those women. These are the sort of distinctions for which Elaine Showalter in Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Media fails to account.
What most people call spontaneous recall usually involves memories that have been denied, not repressed. The survivor has always been aware that the sexual abuse happened, but he or she has studiously avoided thinking about it. A catalyst sets the memory process in motion, but the essential factor in the memory surfacing is the readiness of the survivor to deal with the reality of abuse.
You may experience waves of disbelief after each memory you retrieve. Whether as a phase or waves, the disbelief is usually accompanied by massive self-hate and guilt. ‘How can I even think such a thing? I must really be warped,’ you tell yourself.