A ~ C   ||      D ~ H      ||      I ~ M       ||         N ~ P       ||      Q ~ S       ||    T ~ W  

EMAIL US HERE                     Male Survivors Trust            EMAIL US HERE


The term false memory "syndrome" implies professional acceptance but there is NO SCIENTIFIC FOUNDATION for FMS and the existence of false memory "syndrome" has NOT been proven in any way.

The FMSF (USA) was founded in Philadephia to support those who claimed they had been wrongly accused of sexual abuse. The FMSF and its UK counterpart is now a hiding place for abusers who are in denial, and their USA 'Director' Pamela Freyd, admitted that the organisation does not make any checks to see if their members have criminal records for sexual abuse! She stated "I dont know the truth or falsity of any individuals story" Another cop-out!

Pamela Freyd also ridiculed those who are opposed to child sexual abuse as "politically correct" and therefore, perhaps, merely trendy!.

The False Memory Syndrome Foundation created the term "false memory syndrome" to explain how false accusations could occur. They have taken the stance that delayed memories are often false, and memories recovered in therapy are particularly suspicious.

Their theory is that vulnerable people are coerced into believing they have been abused by therapists who are more interested in having long-term clients than in assisting them, or who unknowingly create false memories in their clients through hypnosis or suggestion.


New Research Casts Doubts On "False Memory Syndrome"

By Patricia Reaney

British scientists have cast doubts on the prevalence of False Memory Syndrome and the idea that recovered memories are often bogus ones induced by therapists.

The theory that memories of events which never occurred can be constructed by suggestion during therapy was used successfully as a defence by those accused of child abuse, to discredit children's testimony. Not any more!

Researchers at University College London claim their study of data from 236 adults with recovered memories shows many are of true past events. "There is now consistent evidence that 'False Memory Syndrome' cannot explain all, or even most, examples of recovered memories of trauma," the British Psychological Society said in a statement.

Dr. Bernice Andrews, who conducted the study, said "There is increasing evidence that many recovered memories cannot be explained by so-called "False Memory Syndrome". To date there is no evidence for a specific "False Memory Syndrome"

"What we've shown is that a substantial proportion of these memories have been corroborated". Contrary to common belief, not all repressed memories are about childhood sexual abuse. They can result from many types of trauma and not all are recovered during therapy.

"People often come into therapy because they have started to remember things that have happened in the past. In our study around a third of cases were people who came into therapy after recovering memories," said Andrews.

She and her colleagues interviewed 108 qualified therapists about the 236 patients. They said the most common triggers for recovering memories were events concerning patients' own children that they associated with violence or fear that they felt themselves. Less often books, videos and memory recovery techniques were used to help patients recall the events.

"Therapists in the majority of cases do not use aggressive, suggestive techniques to get their clients to remember things. They (memories) come up just as a matter of course during therapy and are often accompanied by a lot of emotion as though the person is reliving the event in the present," Andrews explained.

The researchers said their study cannot prove that all recovered memories are true. "You certainly can't explain all instances of people recovering memories in therapy in terms of so-called False Memory Syndrome," Andrews added.

False memory - the false media impressions
(March/April 1995 issue of Addiction Counselling World) Abridged version.

"False Memory Syndrome" is mainly concerned with childhood sexual abuse. Surveys indicate between 10-30% of children have suffered sexual abuse in one form or another.
(Kinsey et al 1953, Russell 1984)

Percentages jump to 80-90+% in alcoholics' or addicts' childhoods, depending on which research you read; looking at these issues forms a major part of their personal recovery.

Statistically this must concern some of the friends and acquaintances of any of us, a fact most people would rather ignore.

An important subject is being taken over by a smooth public relations exercise.

There are no research statistics or even evidence to justify the term "syndrome".

This situation is not helped by the reluctance of people to discuss - or even admit the existence of childhood sexual abuse.

Meanwhile, those adult children, some of whom are still suffering some form of abuse, are left to wonder if there is any chance that they will be believed.

The FMSF supports parents who say the accusations by their adult children of childhood sexual abuse are false. These parents are typically aged 50s, 60s and 70s.

Their accusers are adults who, for one reason or another, have met unbearable emotional pain and insurmountable difficulties in adult relationships - at work, socially or at home - and have sought to relieve the burden of their memories. To resolve these issues, some have sought help from counsellors.

Counselling can often be the first time a survivor feels safe enough to speak about their childhood sexual abuse, which then leads to the allegations.

Our culture regards parents, regardless of who they are, or what they have done, as upstanding citizens being wrongly accused in their twilight years, while the adult children, by the very nature of their need to seek help, are regarded as less than stable, even unreliable.

Certainly, these adult children do not conform to what is regarded as socially acceptable: it is felt that it would be better for all concerned to keep a stiff upper lip. Therefore, we have an imbalance of power between accuser and accused.

This also means that the accused becomes the accuser - the parents accuse their children of lying or fantasising. This is seen as acceptable because children are not to be believed, whether they are adult or not.


Counsellors and Psychotherapists blamed for implanting 'stories' ?

FMS supporters suggest that memories of sexual abuse are implanted by counselling, but validated research clearly shows that 25% of a study of hypnotised people were subject to having false memories implanted.

75% of the subjects were not convinced the memory was real! But the FMS still insist that this assumption is based on two counts: bad therapists and bad science. It maintains bad therapists are leading their clients and/or using dubious methods such as hypnotherapy or truth drugs to develop false memories.

They say the existence of recovered memory is not proven scientifically, and if that argument is to stand up, lets remember that the term "false memory syndrome" implies professional acceptance - it does NOT and never will have any scientific foundation to be accepted!

Its worth noting that the British False Memory Society made much of Majorie Orr's reflection that an estimated 2-8% of accusations by children were false. They declined to comment on the 92-98% who spoke the truth!.

In discussing issues of childhood sexual abuse with therapists/counsellors, they stated that client to recover a memory is not how they work! In reality, a real memory becomes clearer over time, while an imagined one gradually fades out to more pressing and real issues.

Evidence of recovered memories has been corroborated for traumatic events other than child abuse, such as war, political torture or concentration camps.

Memories of such experiences often come back to haunt them many years later.



Both sides agree that child sex abuse exists. I say "agree" because the FMS agree that child sexual abuse occurs, it just does not happen "in their back yard." It happens in another street, town, or city.

In countless cases of child abuse, someone is always ready to say that it cannot be 'him/her' who is responsible because they have known the people or family for years, and that they are model citizens.

People should not ignore the figures of accredited surveys, indicating anything up to 30% of female and c.10% of male children suffering some form of abuse. The figures are chilling - and higher for children who go on to live addictive lives.

A study (Feldman-Summers & Pope 1994) supports earlier studies indicating that abuse survivors routinely reported periods of time when they had forgotten some or all of their abuse. Briere & Conte (1989, 1993) and Herman & Schatzow (1987) had linked amnesia to the severity and/or violence of the abuse.

In Briere & Conte's study, of a sample of 468 clinical subjects with sexual abuse histories, 279 (59.6%) reported a period of their lives before age 18 when they had been amnesic for their abuse.

Those who had repressed memories were most likely to have been molested at an early age, to have been physically injured or to have suffered violent physical or psychological force.

Another study - of 500 psychologists in the US, with 330 returns - showed that two out of five victims of abuse reported periods of amnesia. 26% of women and 16.5% of men reported having been sexually abused, totalling 21.8% of the sample (given the sample, there was no definition of sexual abuse).

The major findings were sexual & non-sexual abuse was subject to periods of forgetting. Fifty six per cent reported that therapy was associated with recollection.

About half of those who said they had forgetton also reported corroboration of the abuse. Forgetting is not related to age or gender of the Survivors, but to the severity of the abuse.

These studies are specific to the underlying issue in the false memory debate. There are innumerable studies of wartime, concentration camp, torture and other major trauma victims, which have indicated amnesia in order to survive.

These are familiar at the level of the general public with associated 'flashback' repetitive replays and so on. The impact of the Vietnam war and its horrors come to mind as being most well-known, popularised by films such as The Deer Hunter.



Peter and Pamela Freyd: It is also worth noting that many members of the Scientific Advisory Panel of the FMS Foundation have dual professional relationships with the Freyd family. Co-founders with the Freyds were Dr Ralph Underwager and his wife Hollida Wakefield, co-author of two books on child sexual abuse.

Dr Underwager resigned from the FMSF, following his 1993 interview in a dutch paedophile magazine which endorsed sex between adults and children and also suggested decriminalisation of paedophilia, to open the debate! His wife remains on the board of FMS Foundation.

The US Appeal Court dismissed Dr Underwager's defamation suit against Dr Anna Salter who criticised the inaccuracy of Underwager/Wakefield's book.



The supporters of 'false memory' complain that no one listens to the proposition that false memories are being implanted, but do not give credence to the fact that there are real memories and real abuse.

Their blinkered and often abusive attitude towards survivors of sexual abuse gives the impression they are concealing a fear of what they are unable to face.

The last word belongs to Jennifer Freyd, following the disclosure that she was sexually abused her father, none other than Peter Freyd. In 1993 she gave her side of the Freyd family story. It was one of boundary and privacy violations, unwanted sexualisation by the father and denial by the mother, and intimidation and manipulation by both parents.

"At times I am flabbergasted that my memory is considered 'false' and my alcoholic father's memory is considered rational and sane, at this point, we need to find a constructive way to debate legitimate issues surrounding adult survivors of child sexual abuse. We need to find a way to be gentle and tender in this pursuit, even as we look critically at the many domains in which we are scientifically and clinically uncertain."

Home Page