FALSE MEMORY SYNDROME
IT'S AFFECTING THE USE OF HYPNOSIS - Joyce Hansen">
FALSE MEMORY SYNDROME
JOYCE HANSEN'S THREE ARTICLES ON HYPNOSIS AND RECOVERED MEMORY/FALSE MEMORY SYNDROME: (1994, 1995, 1996) FOLLOWED BY ROXANNE LOUISE ARTICLE:
Joyce Hansen, R.H.A., is a Board Certified Basic and Advanced Clinical Hypnosis Instructor for the (NGH) National Guild of Hypnosis and a Board Certified Instructor for the National Board of Hypnotherapy and Hypnotic Anaesthesiology. She is also Board Certified in Hypnotic Anaesthesia for Pain Management, A Certified Clinical Hypnotist by the Harte Center for Hypnosis and National Guild of Hypnotist, and an Instructor in course in Self-Hypnosis, Stress Management, Stress Management for the Physically challenged. Joyce and Chaplain Durbin have a two-day workshop on Medical Hypnotherapy.
Her additional and/or continuing studies include: St. John's University, Dept of Psychology; Gestalt Center for Psychotherapy & Training; Parts Therapy with Charles Tebbets; and Guided Imagery.... She is the author of "Stress management for the Physically Challenged." Her memberships include: National Guild of Hypnotist, International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association, The National Board of Hypnotherapy and Hypnotic Anaesthesiology; International Association of Counselors and Therapist; and National Society of Clinical Hypnotherapist.
[When I (Durbin) first began to research information concerning the false memory syndrome, Joyce shared with me a wealth of material on the subject. Thanks Joyce!]
1. THE FALSE MEMORY SYNDROME: HOW IT'S AFFECTING THE USE OF HYPNOSIS: (1994) Joyce Hansen, R.H.A.: Physical and sexual abuse within the family is one of the most devastating issues to sustain its belief in traditional family values. Even though the psychological, medical, legal and social service communities now recognize, persecute and threat such abuse perpetrated against women and children, the entire issue continues to engender anger and resentment. In addition, the subject is also unfortunately, prime for media sensationalism. Each publicized incident appears to become more bizarre than the last, including the allegations of widespread satanic rituals. Such a circus atmosphere leaves many bewildered as to who and what to believe.
Various psychological theories consider early childhood as the most critical aspect for formative behavior. Effective resolution of adult conflicts may include the integration of childhood memories and belief systems. Recalling or enhancing these memories can be accomplished through various regression technique, i.e. client-centered therapy, dream analysis, hypnosis or narcoanalysis.
Memory researchers continue to question the validity of memory recall and express an ever greater skepticism about the validity of childhood memory recall (especially the memory recall of very young children). However, in response to the allegations of physical/sexual abuse, the legal and mental health systems have given greater credence when allegations ar made on the basis of "recovered memories." These "recovered memories" may be considered credible even if the event being remember occurred decades earlier. Twenty one states have extended the Statute of Limitations up to three years after initial memory recall. These "recovered memories" may be spontaneously recalled or recovered through therapeutic regression.
A standard memory metaphor is the mind as a computer recording and transferring events and emotions into a record file that can be accessed by various retrieval methods. The crux of the matter revolves around the validity of trauma amnesia and memory recall. Experimental studies show that all memory is not equally nor accurately recorded nor accurately recalled.
Further, memory can be manipulated and/or confabulated. When poorly trained or overzealous therapist enhance a client's memory based on a belief that certain client symptoms reflect repressed memories of sexual abuse, the possibility of creating false memories and subsequent false allegations is ripe.
The existence of a False Memory Syndrome as a valid psychological condition is still in its infancy of recognition, yet at the same time it is caught between a hotly contested battleground of pro and con adversaries.
The False Memory Syndrome supporters are composed of well respected medical and psychological researchers and practitioners and most importantly over 4,000 families who believed they have been falsely accused. Their adult children my come to believe in and accept, either on their own or through therapy, that they are victims of child abuse and torture.
While not denying or depreciating in any manner that such real abuse situations have and continue to occur, there appears to be false allegations being made that needlessly destroys families and places a client in even greater psychological trauma. Such concern led the March 1992 formation of FMSF - False Memory Syndrome Foundation.
Those who do not support the idea of a False Memory Syndrome are composed of equally responded psychological clinicians who initially did not believe their client's allegations. They claim that prior to 1979 many therapist had neither the knowledge, training nor experience in trauma-related and dissociative disorders.
Their initial diagnosis were borderline schizophrenics hysterics, or manic depressive. At a certain point however, they became overwhelmed by the nature and burgeoning accounts of what they were hearing, and many were greatly troubled by the reports of satanic episodes.
As these memories continued to surface, a book that quickly captured the public's attention was Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis. While neither author was a therapist (one being an incest victim) they wrote what came to be the Bible of sexual abuse. Their premise is that surface, but the mere recognition of feelings or subjective bodily sensations is enough to confirm literal abuse.
Subsequently, may women seek regression therapy to confirm vague feelings or unexplained dissociative symptoms and seek support through self-help groups and literature or related recovery programs.
Some therapists believed that it is their duty to have the client with these symptoms accept for their own good and "truth" of their abuse, and thus the healing process can begin. Unfortunately some clients become victims of abuse that never happened but somehow manifested itself as a "real" memory when regression techniques (including hypnosis) are misused by misguided therapists.
So, what does all this mean to hypnotherapy practitioners? It means that as part of this volatile debated issue, the use of hypnosis is currently in the hot media spotlight. It means that when hypnosis is used for memory regression, the validity of the elicited information should be considered questionable, rather than absolutely true. It may mean that the quality of memory may be highly variable depending on the nature of the information being recalled. Possibly the quality of memory also varies from person to person, i.e., some have better memory recall under hypnosis than others. When the hypnotherapist is asking questions, is the nature and phrasing of the response of the client? Ultimately, what it means is that as professional hypnotherapist we need to take great care and responsibility when engaged in regression work. We need to able aware that memory is not perfect, to be aware of potential for "suggestibility" to alter memory recall, and finally to recognize that issues of repressed memories, especially those of a traumatic sexual nature, cannot be proven merely by the use of hypnosis alone.
(From Durbin: If you want to read more about the False Memory Syndrome, you may want to check out these books. [more will be listed at end of each session])
E Loftus Ofshe, Waters E. Goldstein P Freyd & E. Goldstein
2. WHAT IS THE FALSE MEMORY CONTROVERSY: (By Joyce Hansen, R.H.A. 1995)
The false memory controversy is known to most of us through the media reports profiling stories with a general scenario of "fathers" being accused by their adult daughters of sexual abuse perpetrated on them as children. These accusations are a result of recovered memories which have been repressed due to trauma coming to light either through psychotherapy, the use of hypnotic regression or momentary experiences of flashbacks. Many of these women are diagnosed as suffering from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress. In addition they express vague feelings that something is wrong, and/or they lack memories from certain periods of their childhood.
Women with recovered memories have been considered to be just a legitimate a victim of sexual abuse as those women who have always had memory of their sexual abuse. Psychological support and treatment protocols stress the importance of establishing an integrated self and healing the inner child for both. However, once the issue of childhood sexual abuse left the therapy session and entered the legal system, the nature of such abuse now was perceived in an entirely different manner. The courts suddenly fund themselves in a quandary. How do you prosecute a criminal and immoral act on the basis of recovered memories that surface 10, 20, or 30 years after the alleged act?
What ensured is a controversy based on parents being prosecuted on charges of sexual abuse and therapist being prosecuted by accused parents on charges of incompetence and planting false memories in the mind of their vulnerable adult children either through hypnosis or constant allusion to sexual abuse explanation. Thus, the allegation of a "false memory."
One of this contentious atmosphere, the accusations and some of the more bizarre claims have made the false memory controversy a media dream for TV ratings. It may not be a "hot" controversy for the media, but it is a controversy for the media, but it is a controversy with serious implications for more than the accused and the accuser.
What is the False Memory controversy?: It is a family structure torn apart by accusations and denials and counter accusations and the counter denials. It can be where family communications links are broken, where suspicions may turn into bizarre accusations of extreme abuse and satanic overtones and the words "being in denial" are equally used by both sides.
It is a battleground for the mental health community where therapist not only find themselves taking sides but also having to defend their therapeutic interventions and reassess various training methods and issues of ethics and confidentially. For the therapists to find themselves as defendants in a third arty action, it opens a new arena that other third parties may try to hold any therapists accountable for the treatment program of their clients.
It is an atmosphere of discourse and rhetoric for courts to pass judgements on the validity of testimony based on recovered memory as well as the very nature of memory itself. The scientific community has been called upon to explain its research and propose theories of memory state. There are still open-ended questions as to how trauma affects memory and if memories really can be repressed or accurately recovered.
It is a confrontation of uncertainly for society to face. Who is to be blamed for failing to acknowledge the atrocities perpetrated against children? Does a part of society hide behind an elaborate denial by not wishing to confront the reality of sexual child abuse? Or, is society experiencing a mass hysteria phonomania stoked by media vicariously creating imaginary victims? It is a betrayal for those adults who have always known or come to realize that they truly had been sexually abused. They not only struggle and suffer with anger, guilt and shame, but now find their memories being challenged and questioned, as if it never really happened.
It is an accusatory hiding place where some sexual abuser can perpetrate their denial or guilt. Deception is promulgated and neither side is allowed to heal. It is a haven for parents who are truly innocent and provides them with support and a network to withstand false allegations that have destroyed their family, their social structure and their sanity. It is an open door for accuser to reconsider whether they have become unwitting victims of a childhood sexual abuse explanation for the symptoms that may be a result of other issues of trauma, unresolved emotions, or sense of not belonging or being loved. And finally, it is an opportune moment for those of us who practice hypnotherapy to reconsider the description of "memory" in terms of the accuracy of a recording camera and a computer retrieval system. It is also a time to re-examine what we say, how we say it, and what to do, while not forgetting the fact that the subconscious mind can confabulate.
We need to be mindful that the validity of hypnosis is once again in the courts being bandied about. Even though this controversy, for some of us, is far removed form our scope of hypnotic practice, the legal implications will still effect us. We may not find ourselves not only dispelling the myths and misconceptions of hypnosis but explaining as well how to follow false memories that can occur during regression.
Most importantly, the false memory controversy challenges belief systems. We must not bear in mind that recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse may be true, but they also my be false and that therapy and hypnosis are beneficial psychological healing modalities, but they cannot always provide a truthful accounting of past events.
3. HYPNOSIS - CONTROVERSIAL AGAIN: Joyce Hansen, R.H.A. (1996)
Hypnosis as a professional practice has grown subsequential in the mind of the public, yet from time to time old Svengali myths get resurrected, and the public again becomes confused and apprehensive. Once again hypnosis has become controversial, but in this case as an indirect result of the explosive growth of accusations made by adult children of sexual abuse (primarily by parents) occurring in their infant and /or child years. These claims are based on so-called "repressed" memories that surface many years later. Many of these adults have been counseled to rectify or see, some form of restitution through litigation of the accused as part of the therapeutic "healing" process. Defense litigation in such cases has raised impropriety and incompetency on the part of the therapist or practitioner using hypnosis and/or suggestive techniques to recover "repressed" memories which false lead the client to believe that their current symptoms are due to being sexual abused as a child.
To assure a first-time client about the efficacy safety of hypnosis, a properly trained practitioner takes the time to explain about the "mind-body connection," the mind's ability to enter into various levels of natural and altered states of consciousness and the ability to accept or reject suggestion. However, when it come to the larger controversy of "repressed" memories of childhood sexual abuse, even explanations that "all hypnosis is self hypnosis" and the practitioner initiating the hypnotic state is merely a "facilitator" in the process not a "controller" seem to get lost in the hated accusations of implanting false memories through incompetence.
The intent here is to restrict the discussion to the use of hypnosis as it is being practiced within the context of "repressed" memory and to focus on five aspects of hypnosis that have become controversial within the "repressed" memory controversy. They include hypnosis competency, the use of hypnotic age regression, the psychological utilization of hypnosis, the use of hypnotic suggestibility, and knowledge of memory performance. Extended issues of satanic cult abuse, multiple personality and other dissociative disorders, while relevant, will not be included in this discussion.
To begin with, hypnosis competency is not a matter of higher educational training but a matter of competent hypnosis training and supervision. States, nationwide, are beginning to legislate for consistency in training programs and professional guidelines which will prove beneficial to the overall practice of hypnosis. Just because someone id trained in hypnosis does not make them competent to deal with psychological trauma issues without further psychological training. Likewise, just because someone is trained in psychotherapy it does not make them competent to use hypnosis without advanced training. It is beneficial to both practitioners and therapists to be well versed in the psychodynamics and the hypnotherapeutic implications of what happens between themselves and their clients.
Initially, there was formalized training for handling "repressed memories." Treatment protocol came from therapeutic interventions with clients who had either always remembered their childhood sexual abuse or their memory returned unsolicited at a later point in time. The popular self-help book "Courage to Heal" with its infamous quotation of "if you think you were sexual abused, you probably were" set the stage for the condition of sexual abuse denial If a therapist suspected that a client had been abused, it became their challenger to override the "denial" so that the client could heal through confronting the awful truth, and one way to access this "truth" was to induce hypnotic trance. Did these practitioners and therapist know enough about what happens at the different levels of trance, or how confabulation can occur or how a suggestible stat can exist without formal inductions? Those using hypnosis for "repressed" memory retrievals are criticized for incompetency because they have misused hypnosis to create a greater trauma to prove the existence of "repressed" memories despite the denial of the client.
The second controversial aspect of hypnosis is based on using age regression to access "repressed memories." The use of hypnotic age regression has been a long-standing effective and acceptable technique in uncovering the initial "trigger" mechanism to particular behavior. (including fears, anxieties and phobias) and many psychosomatic conditions. However, hypnotically working with the memory of the "triggering" event does not require the memory to be authenticated or validated. By disconnecting the emotional attachment to the presented memory most of these conditions are easily resolved.
When age regression is used to recover "repressed" memory, the intent has been to move beyond the denial state and recover those memories that will validate the childhood sexual experience. Current statistical reports verify the extensiveness of contemporary child physical and sexual abuse, but records or corroboration of incidents from 20, 30, and 40 years ago are almost nonexistent. Therefore, the reliance of confrontation and hypnotic age regression became of paramount importance to many therapists wanting to access these "repressed" memories. Considerable public debate and criticism have been directed at those therapist who diagnosed childhood sexual abuse based on vague symptoms and intuition and who overzealously attempted to validate the "repressed" memories through age regression.
What these therapist have failed to comprehend is that the various dynamics of suggestibility, including suggestibility under hypnosis, can potentially stimulated imagination and confabulation into false memories. Further, imagination and confabulation are known to be attributes of the hypnotic process and serve their own purpose when the intent is to make the subconscious mind receptive to beneficial and positive suggestions, or to purposefully create hallucinatory images. To use hypnosis age regression as a primary source of sexual abuse memory retrieval is legitimately controversial and suspect when the very inherent nature of hypnosis is one of suggestibility.
The third controversial aspect is the psychological utilization of hypnosis. Many successful psychological treatments include a variety of different treatment modalities, and many psychological issues have been benefited from subconscious information generated through hypnosis when judiciously used to restructure conscious beliefs and feelings, including those of "remembered" childhood sexual abuse.
Hypnosis again becomes controversial when it is used to focus on recreating the psychological trauma state. Working on the premise that the body encodes emotional trauma and that repeated trauma becomes part of a cumulative body memory, therapist would use the trance state to not only remember the sexual abuse but to release the body memory as well through abreaction. Much criticism has also been directed at this form of therapy since some therapists have made their clients repeatedly abreact the same body memories. (as it is a purging of body and mind until there is no more). Abreaction may, of course, occur during the hypnotic state as an unsolicited event, and they do appear to release tension, but professional hypnotherapy has never endorsed repeated or purposeful abreaction.
The fourth controversial aspect is the use of hypnotic suggestibility through visualization and guided imagery. The techniques have also been used with progressive relaxation, meditation, and dream analysis to provide beneficial results to the body and the subconscious mind. But, there are therapist who have managed to corrupt the process by using visualization and guided imagery to lead the client into a very suggestive state which presupposes that childhood sexual abuse has occurred. Cases have been documented where the therapist have said things like - "Imagine you are in your bedroom, who's there with you?" "Where does he place his hand?" "Who else is was there?" "Why didn't your mother protect you?"
Only recently has the process of forensic hypnosis been introduced into the psychological process. The early notorious cases of sexual abuse arrest of nursery owner and staff in California and New Jersey have been overturned on appeal, when review of the investigative technique used by officials was proved to be suggestive, leading and coercive on children. Investigators must now follow formal guidelines in a forensic manner when interviewing children. The application of a forensic approach to al cases of sexual abuse will help to remove unintentional suggestibility and reduce the controversy of hypnotic suggestibility.
And the fifth and final controversial aspect in the knowledge of memory performance. There have been a variety of analogies used to explain the different ways memory functions. One such early description was a long term memory being like a record groove that becomes deeper and deeper each time that specific memory was brought to mind. A more current analogy, in keeping with the latest scientific research, is the one of memory fragments from various parts of the brain being reassembled into a memory image acting like the random access memory of a computer. However, even this analogy only captures the process it does not capture all the nuances, distortions and fabrications of memory.
Many practitioners and therapist believe hypnosis is a means to retrieve undistorted truthful
and complete memory accounts via the subconscious mind. Once such memory accounts is retrieved including emotional abreaction, psychological resolution can proceed. Proponents of "repressed" memory argue that this kind of memory id different from other memory because it is, specifically, sexual abuse, trauma memory which creates this "repressed" state (which of course can only by successfully relieved through their particular protocol).
Current memory research suggests that memory is reinterpreted, reassessed and reassembles each time it is brought to consciousness rather than a sequential series of images. Numerous experiments have yet to substantiate the existence of a "repressed" state where memory can be fully, and accurately recovered many years later in such great detail. Yet, each side of the memory debate tries to interpret the latest memory study as a defense for their position. Therefore, at this point in time, valid research is still pending and the "repressed" memory state is theoretical.
In terms of hypnosis, there is no question that memory can be manipulated. This is the position the legal courts have taken regarding what is called "hypnotically refreshed memory," and this has been the primary defense against claims of childhood sexual abuse based on the use of hypnosis. Hypnotically, imagination can be stimulated to create almost lifelike experiences with corresponding physical responses. Such suggestibility must also be realistically considered in the creation of potential false images of sexual abuse when a practitioner or therapist is seeking confirmation based on their judgment of denial or when a client has already been made suggestible by media, the conversations of others, or personal fantasy.
In summary, the application of hypnosis for the verification of "repressed" memories cannot be anything but controversial. In all fairness to all parties concerned, corroboration of accusations is imperative when possible and when it is not, healing should therapeutically proceed. It serves no ethical purpose to use hypnosis to witch hunt for the real or mythical abuser.
A McDonald M. Pendergast T Campbell
Roxanne Louise won the 1996 "Woman of the Year" Award from the International Hypnosis Hall of Fame. She has also been nominated for their prestigious Sealah Award. She was featured in a full-page article in the New York Times in June, 1998. She speaks at several hypnosis and other conventions annually, and has done so since 1992. She has spoken at the following conventions: the National Guild of Hypnotists (1992-2001), the International Association of Counselors and Therapists (2000-2001), the American Board of Hypnotherapy (1994-1999), the International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association 1994-1996, 1999), the International Hypnosis Hall of Fame 1993-2001), the National Association of Transpersonal Hypnotherapists 1995-2000), the Mid-America Hypnosis Conference (1998-1999), the National Board of Hypnotic Anesthesiology (2000) and the North Coast (Ohio) Conference (1996).
Before starting Unlimited Potential, Roxanne was a professional classical singer for 20 years, performing on every major hall in NYC (except Avery Fisher) and many music festivals with many world renown groups such as NYC Opera, NYC Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, Netherlands Ballet, Aspen Music Festival, Bach Aria Group, Ars Musica, Friends of French Opera, Little Orchestra Society, and many more. Before that, she worked several years as a vocational counselor in Boston, a vocational consultant and college dormitory mother in Maine, a caseworker in NYC, and a high school teacher in Newark, NJ, and executive secretary for the Metropolitan Opera. She taught singing for many years, and wrote a small volume on classical singing technique. email: RoxanneLouise@aol.com Website: www.roxannelouise.com
What is A False Memory and False Memory Syndrome? False Memory is not just a memory that is without factual base, because indeed it is normal for all of us have problems remembering with historical accuracy, especially of things that happened long ago. It is a false memory of such magnitude that grips the mind of the individual with an intensity that all other personality aspects and indeed the life revolve around it, and the quality of that life suffer enormously. It is an artificially created artifact created out of emotional distress. As Psychiatrist Paul McHugh states, it is "built out of a personality of mental distress and a cultural idiom that the doctor agrees to and gives a new explanation to the life story that gives justification to the distress." (Paul McHugh at the 1997 FMS Conference.) He further says that the emotionally disturbed comply with the role because it makes sense to their emotional turmoil. The more patients comply, the more medical authority believe in it, the more medical attention it gets, the more groups support compliance of the social trend. It is "a social trend driven by politics, religious and philosophical ideas that drive it along.
What is generally called the False Memory Syndrome generally refers to individuals believing with great fervency that they were sexually abused, satanically ritually abused, or abducted by aliens, without any factual evidence that it occurred, and in the face of contrary evidence that it did not occur. Like members of a cult, the mistaken beliefs of a person suffering from False Memory Syndrome are difficult to dissuade. Believers tend to seek out those who confirm their beliefs, and to cut off contact with those who disagree.
A false memory dictates the individual's identity. It causes havoc in a person's life creating nightmares, loss of sleep, indigestion, loss of concentration, breakdown of families and other relationships. It tends to dominate every waking minute of the day. And the more the person dwells upon it, or goes to support groups for other 'survivors', or finds others who support them in their mistaken beliefs, the worse the person gets, sometimes to the point of becoming institutionalized and unemployable, and the more their relationships deteriorate. Indeed, any ability of the individual to cope, solve problems, and deal effectively with life severely suffers. To the degree that therapists aid in creating or maintaining false memories of any kind that cause suffering to their clients or to the family and others effected by that false memory, that therapist is liable.
Those with False Memory Syndrome appear to suffer more and dwell on their past problems more than survivors of true, documented abuse, i.e. the Holocaust or other victims such as Cambodian survivors of the Khmer Rouge atrocities, do. (Victims of Memory, page 522-523) They do not obsessively talk about the painful past even to strangers. Instead, they focus on moving on with their lives, and they seem to laugh more than 12-step groups. True incest survivors keep their experiences as private, and have no desire to think about or relive such memories. While some people might think that traumatic experiences are responsible for all their problems in life, studies of the impact of child sexual abuse reviewed by sociologists, Linda Williams and David Finkelhor "overall indicate that early abusive trauma and adult functioning have no simple relationship. (Victims of Memory, page 524.)
Legal Considerations: Question: "What did the judge say to the therapist dressed in a three-piece business suit?" Answer: "Would the defendant please rise?" (Page 95, Hypnosis and False Memories. How False Memories are Created by Ronald L. Stephens, published by Ziotech.) During the past ten years or more, recovered memory therapists urged their clients to sue their parents and others of sexual abuse. However, in the past couple years, those accused and the therapists of the accusers are now being brought into court. One organization, the False Memory Foundation, is now arguing in Amicus Briefs that the severe injury to patients from scientifically unproven methods, i.e., of memory retrieval, merit malpractice suits. They also argue that therapists employing methods of recovered memory which lead to criminal allegations have a duty to the accused individual. The methods they dispute in memory retrieval are hypnosis, guided imagery, journaling, dream work, body work, & drugs such as sodium Pentathal. With the onset of high priced lawsuits against therapists on charges of implanting false memories with the consequent mental anguish and breakup of families, it is crucial and prudent that all therapists and hypnotherapists be advised.
Court Settlements Against Therapists for False Memory: $2.4 Million Out-of Court Settlement in Cool v. Legion Insurance Co., Kenneth C, Olson, et al, Wisconsin, 1997. "Nadeen Cool sued her former psychiatrist for malpractice alleging he induced false memories through hypnosis, was negligent in diagnosing multiple personality disorder, and engaged in dangerous treatment including an exorcism and prescribing drugs that caused her to hallucinate." ("Legal Corner". page 8. FMS Foundation Newsletter, April 1997. ("Legal Corner". page 8. FMS Foundation Newsletter, April 1997.)
$100,000 Out of Court Settlement Paynter v, Septon, Circuit Court, Multnomah Co., Oregon,
February 1997: Former patient Amy Paynter alleged against her therapist, unlicensed social worker Jennifer Septer, 'failure to recognize and control transference and counter-transference, failure to conduct a reasonable investigation of the facts, and failure to obtain informed consent to use various suggestive techniques, including journaling, dream work, inner child work, verbal suggestion and group therapy...negligently and falsely diagnosed that she had repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse by family members... despite... that she had no memory of such abuse before seeking treatment. Paynter was also falsely diagnosed as having sexually abused her own infant son and other children and was told to report this supposed abuse to her employer, which resulted in an immediate layoff from her job. ("Legal Corner". page 9. FMS Foundation Newsletter, April 1997)
South Dakota woman, Marine Berry, suing her former therapists and hospital staff for false memories of sexual and physical abuse. Two Pennsylvania therapists will not he allowed to practice therapy for at least a year for using "harmful and dangerous methods" in their therapy practice. New Hampshire Supreme Court, Hungerford v. Jones, No. 97-657, May 6, 1998. Court is considering whether a mental health care provides owes a legal duty to the father of an adult patient to diagnose and treat the patient with requisite skill and competence of the profession when the diagnosis is that the father sexually abused or assaulted the patient, and whether said provider owes a duty to act with reasonable care to avoid foreseeable harm to the father of an adult patient resulting from treatment or other action taken in relation to mental health conditions arising from said diagnosis.
Legal Decisions on Accepting Repressed Memory Evidence: Many courts are now failing to admit repressed memory evidence saying that it is quite controversial, the methods of extracting such memories also questionable, the memories lacking verifiable and objective evidence warranting the discovery rule. They are requiring the substantiation of recovered memories before being admissible. (See FMS Foundation Newsletter, 12/98, pages 12-14 for others) State of New Hampshire v. Hungerford, 7/1/1 997. Engstrom v. Engstrom, 6/18/97. Hunter v. Brown, 11/10/97.
Kelly v. Marcantonio, 678 A.2d 873, Rhode Island Supreme Court, 7/11/96. The court instructed judges to hold a evidentiary hearing to determine if recovered memories is "sufficiently relevant, reliable, and scientifically and/or medically established." Texas Supreme Court, S.V. v. R.V., No 94-0856, 3/14/96.
North Carolina Court Excludes "Repressed Memory" Testimony, October 20, 1998 in Barrett v. Hyldburg, Superior Court, Buncombe Co., NC, No. 94 CVS 793. "The emotional content of an image, the confidence a person has in that image, or the consistency of a story do not prove the existence or reliability of a repressed memory." FMS Foundation Newsletter, 12/98, vol. 7 no, 10.
"Certainly a person can have a strong emotional reaction to a nightmare, even though no one contends that the dream reflected a factual event Moreover, paranoids are convinced of the truth of their conspiracy theories and act in accordance with their suspicions. Indeed, a common feature of paranoia is a consistency and durability in the belief of a perceived persecution. The fact that plaintiff firmly believes and emotionally reacts To a perceived memory does not prove the existence of such repressed memory, nor does it show she reliability reported the events she supposedly recalled by plaintiff... the durability of the plaintiffs alleged memory, one of the internal corroborating factors identified by Dr. Whitfield, may be the result of support plaintiff has received from others following her report of sexual abuse... The court finds and concludes chat the so-called "internal corroborative " evidence does not have sufficient scientific reliability to establish either the validity of the phenomenon of repressed memory or the accuracy of alleged recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse." North Carolina superior Court Judge Stanford L. Steelman, Jr. in above case.
The "Internal Corroboration" cited by Charles Whitfield, M.D. to be "evidence of veracity are: plaintiffs credibility abreaction or strong emotional reaction to the memory the consistency of the story the durability of the memory . The court now contends that none of the above prove accuracy of memory.
The court further ruled that self-reports alone is insufficient to prove the validity of the phenomenon of repression. Also that just because a diagnosis exists in the DSM-IV (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used for classifying diagnosis) may indicate some degree of acceptance but not necessarily general acceptance in the relevant scientific community. The manual cannot be considered a scientific manual, either fully complete, or completely valid. The court ruled that there is no general acceptance for the validity of repressed memory theory, nor a way to distinguish between true memories and false memories. The Royal College of Psychiatrists has specifically advised against the practice of diagnosing childhood sexual abuse through a checklist of symptoms .
"Repressed Memory" charges by Margaret Powel against schoolteacher Michael Gallagher were dropped & criminal charges against the accuser are now being considered. Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/27/98 "Rape charges dropped against schoolteacher" Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided that repressed memory is an inappropriate basis for a rape charge.
Memory is perfect, but recall is not. Memory may be retained (memory retention). Memory recall is being able to access that stored memory. These are not the same things. Both are affected by the meaningfulness of the material learned, "the more meaningful the experience, the greater the likelihood of retention and recall." If the material is meaningful, the memory may be intact for life.
Memory is at best what we observe, experience or think of frequently. The more recent the event, the easier to remember. The more vivid, distinct, or extraordinary the event, observation, thought, experience, the easier it is to recall clearly. Memory is best for those things liked, next for those things disliked, and least for those things to which indifferent.
Recall is influenced by degree of attention given it at the time, ie. passing observation or careful scrutiny. volume of stimuli rapidity of experience of stimuli degree of fatigue at the time level of distraction environmental & psychological (cognitive-emotional context in which something was learned and later recalled state dependent learning & retrieval) "in either a hypo- or hyper- aroused state of consciousness is bound to that level of arousal... unless that level of arousal is reactivated, the individual will have only partial recall or even total amnesia for the original experience." studies with alcohol, amphetamine and barbiturate induced states. State bound information is accessed also with associated symbol--image, melody, or taste. The more similar the context, the greater the recall.
Helmut Relinger ("Fabrication in Hypnosis". Refer to for scientific studies quoted) believes that hypnosis is most effective in situations were
1. person was traumatized and later amnesic
2. person tried to learn material in a highly stressful situation and was later unable to recall that information
Memory may change as a result of psychodynamic defense mechanisms within the personality, faulty reconstruction, interference, misassociations, imagination and suggestion.
There is also a tendency to fill in the blanks. When asked to recall a poorly remembered event, the imagination fills in the gaps. This happens unconsciously. We tend to recall what we think should have happened, what we wish had happened, or what we believe now from suggestions forgotten, happened. Prejudice and sympathy influence recall. "Unconscious bias is more dangerous than conscious bias. In every witness there is an empire of subconscious loyalties, like and dislikes, preferences and hatreds, some conscious, others unconscious, but all.., affecting what we perceive, how we perceive it, and ... how we recall it.... It is not uncommon for an honest and sincere witness To confuse his recollection of what actually occurred with what he has persuaded himself to have happened ..imagination and suggestion co-operating will rewrite the perceptual truth until it is unrecognizable." (page 274 Forensic Hypnosis)
Waking suggestions "are no less powerful than hypnotic suggestions, because in many instances they are actually stronger in that they usually operate below our level of conscious awareness, hence beyond conscious control....Suggestions from the press, acquaintances, and interviewing law enforcement officers or attorneys, can all quire easily and inadvertently alter the person 's memory, which he may unknowingly incorporate as his own at a later date. Experienced trial lawyers are often masters of suggestion, even if unknowingly, and can subtly influence a jury as well as a witness."
Creating Neurosis and Multiple Personalities: It is possible to create neurosis through suggestion. Jean-Marie Charcot, a psychiatrist in Salpetriere, France during the 1870's and 1880's, could induce faints, neurosis, hysteria, and odd behavior through influence of his authority with patients, through "contagion" of suggestion from one patient to another, as well as through hypnosis. (Page 404-405, Victims of Memory) After Charcot's death in 1893, the phases of hysteria as taught by him, fell into disrepute. "without the master to induce them, the symptoms simply vanished." Freud later studied for a few months with Charcot . It was a turning point for Freud, switching him from studying neuropathology to psychopathology.
McHugh, feels that it is possible to create multiple personalities. Here are some indirect suggestions that he feels elicits multiples:
"Have you ever felt like someone else?"
"Does this set of feelings have a name?"
"I would like to talk to that part of you that __________.
These suggestions are routinely used in hypnosis through a process of parts therapy. Parts therapy, which is an effective technique in dealing with internal conflict, says that laymen understand that there already exists different 'parts', ie. the part of them that wants to stop smoking, the part that doesn't; the part of them that is an effective in one setting, and ineffectual in another. They claim that the technique does not create pathological dissociation. Parts therapists always integrate 'the parts' before hypnotic arousal. And yet if a therapist is working with a highly suggestible subject, it is crucial to be especially careful of everything that you say.
Clinical Psychiatry Texts by Myers (spelling), Ross, Slater and others states that multiple personalities are always artificial productions, the product of the medical attention they arouse. "Never talk to alters, " McHugh says. The moment that you do, you further entrenches them. Instead find a better way to change symbolic meaning that gives energy, hope, and an enhanced ability to cope.
McGurdy in the book War Neurosis said that nightmares of veterans were extrapolations of events rather than the events themselves.
Hypnotic Language Patterns Can Create False Memories:
Many people with your problem have experienced _________ (sexual/ ritualistic/ physical/physical) abuse.
Some experts believe that there is a correlation between__________ (eating disorders) and (sexual/etc.) abuse.
Many children of alcoholics have experienced ________(sexual) abuse.
Many times these problems stem from early childhood trauma.
I wonder if you ever experienced abuse. And if you did, who was that? And where did it occur? And when might that have occurred? Take a moment to image that.
Using the same language pattern to create positive change:
Many people with your condition/ illness/ cancer recover and go on to enjoy many years of good health.
Many people with your problem have experienced temporary anxiety until they learn new coping skills.
Many times these problems stimulate greater growth, wisdom and compassion in a person. Have you been aware of positive changes occurring in spite of or even because of what you are experiencing?
What is the difference here? One suggestion leads to look for the positive, and the other to a negative. One focuses on the past, and the other on the present moving into a positive future.
What are the basics of suggestion. suggestibility, & memory?
GUIDELINES FOR THERAPISTS:
1. Above all do no harm
2. Do some good
3. Physician heal thyself
4. CYA - cover your ass
The baseline barometer should be this: Is the client happier, more effective, more successful in his everyday life because of whatever therapy he engaged in? If he is, then that method was good for him. This does not assume that it would be good for everyone else, but might be useful to someone else.
Is the client less happy, less effective, less successful in his everyday life because of the therapy he engaged in? If so, then the therapist responsible may have to legally answer for such results.Bibliography & Resources:
False Memory Syndrome Foundation, 3401 Market Street, Suite 130, Philadelphia, PA 19104-3315 (215)387-1865 or (800)568-8882/ FAX (215) 387-1917. Pamela Freyd, Ph.D., Executive Director. This organization publishes a newsletter listing recent court cases involving false memory. It can provide a recommended reading list. It has videos of prior conferences. It works towards education and changes in the laws to prevent recovered memory testimony. Especially recommended in the 1997 2-day conference videos include Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D., describing how to install false memories, and Paul McHugh, M.D., John Hopkins.
Victims of Memory. Incest Accusations and Shattered Lives by Mark Pendergrast. 1995. 549 pages. $24.95. Available for a discounted price of $20 through Unlimited Potential.
Hypnosis and False Memories. How False Memories are Created! by Ronald L. Stephens, Msc.D., C.Ht. Published by Ziotech International, 617 High Street, Freeport, PA. 1996.
Making Monsters. False Memories, Psychotherapy and Sexual Hysteria by Richard Ofshe and Ethan Watters. 1994.
Hypnosis. Questions and Answers by Bernie Zilbergeld, Ph.D., M. Gerald Edelstien, M.D., Daniel L. Araoz, Ed.D., editors. Published by W.W. Norton & Co., NY. 1986. See "Fabrication in Hypnosis" by Helmut Relinger, Ph.D.; "The Validity of Memories Retrieved in Hypnosis" by Martin T. Orne, M.D., Ph.D., "Past Lives Regression" by Campbell Ferry, Ph.D., Jean-Roch Laurence, Ph.D., Robert Nadon, M.A., and Louise Labelle, B.A., "Age Regression" by M. Gerald Edelstien, M.D.
Forensic Hypnosis. The Practical Application of Hypnosis in Criminal Investigations by Whitney S. Hibbard, M.A., and Raymond W. Worring, M.A., Published by Charles C. Thomas, 1981.
The following excerpt is part of a talk given in September 1995 Much has been made of what is usually referred to as the 'terrifying ease' with which false memories can be created. Several experiments have been documented and quoted. All useless. You only have an individual's word for what s/he perceives as real or imaginary. There is absolutely no known way of testing for the reality of a claimed memory, other than by diligent checking of indisputable corroborating evidence..
Now, I believe that even if a hypnotist can create an impression in his subject's mind that seems like reality, that feeling of reality will last for only a very short time. But what is eminently easy to create is the absolute belief that an event has happened - a truth, if you like, but not an actual memory.
The more influence one individual has over another, the easier it is to create that belief. Try this: imagine that a relative has shown you a picture of yourself, at about four years old or so, with your arm in plaster. Now you don't remember anything of this, so you ask your relative, who tells you that you had fallen off a swing and broken your arm. Now you have a belief, but it's not a memory. But you'd still vigorously defend that knowledge that you'd broken your arm, because you've seen the photo, and your relative has confidently told yo what happened, so it must be so. And you'll remember the belief. Elader and Child
Now let's shift things around a bit. In hypnotherapy, who's playing the part of the wise elder and who's playing the part of the child? Let us assume that you assure your client confidently that his/her symptom is always connected to a specific event. As far as the client is concerned, you're the one who knows. So you must be right. During therapy, it would be an easy matter to convince him/her that several recalls all pointed in that same direction, and then your client would have a belief that he or she may vigorously defend, but they still don't have an actual memory of the event. A tale will very likely be fabricated, for several reasons - as a 'proof' to justify the stated belief, feelings of stupidity for not being able to remember, transference, the need to find a reason for the way they are, fear of 'losing face', etc. And it is worth remembering that we only ever have an individual's word that they are actually remembering what they say they are remembering. And they can't lose. Because, if their tale is subsequently shown to be untrue, all they have to say is: "But it seemed so real... that therapist must have somehow put it into my mind..."
As a matter of interest if you believe I'm talking about false memories of sexual abuse, then you're about to realize just how easily your client can get the idea into his or her head... because I've not made any mention of sexual matters at all. OK, I've been talking about false memory syndrome and it's usually associated with sexual matters because that's the sort of false memory that's been causing problems, but that's merely a conditioning factor which your clients have been exposed to as well, because it's been in the media so frequently. If You Talk Repression........
So if you talk about repression or 'buried memories' to your client, you've almost certainly got them thinking along sexual lines. For what it's worth, I usually tell them that we're searching for unfinished childhood business which can be minor, or maybe not so minor, but either way it's something which bothered the child so much that they simply kicked it under the carpet, so to speak, where it still lies.
Then I quote them a couple of case histories which are decidedly non sexual to illustrate more clearly what I'm talking about. Sometimes, they ask me if I think it could be anything sexual. Sometimes they ask me if I find much sexual abuse as a cause of people's problems. I always say the same thing. I tell them that I find such a wide variety of causes of client problems that I long ago gave up speculating about it and prefer to wait and see instead. Actually, I believe that the only true false memory of this sort is the negative one - a memory that absolutely nothing of that sort ever happened. That's not to say, of course, that when someone is certain that nothing ever happened then they are necessarily wrong.
Now, of course, we do find memories of sexual abuse surfacing. For our purposes here, I'm talking about sexual abuse in it's most obvious and elemental form, the truly sexual event in a form which the average person in the street would recognize as such. So - we're talking about groping, fingering, enforced masturbation, and penetration or attempted penetration of mouth, anus, or vagina.
Terence Watts and Kevin Hogan at NGH Convention 2001
There are several possibilities to consider.
1. Has been abused and knows it. They've been abused, they know it, and our job with that client is to get them to release the guilt connected to it, because it's that which has been repressed. I've not yet had a client with this memory who had not got repressed guilt and fear. They let go of these emotions readily as a rule and we're unlikely to find ourselves with any real problems here.
2. Has been abused but does not know it. When they find it, they are incredulous at first, often thinking it's imagination. I usually say that it might be, but stay with it anyway, if it's what their mind wants to do. If it's a true memory, it will soon become real enough. There's usually huge emotional release - if you use a bio-feedback meter, you can't miss it, I promise you. Sometimes, the emotional arousal appears to be missing at first - no mystery, if you understand the nature of abreaction.
3. Has not been abused as such. If they get the idea into their head that they have been, they might begin to act accordingly, because those that latch onto the idea are usually Hysterics. The giveaway is a too-ready acceptance of the memory as reality with out of balance emotional responses. Again, the bio-feedback meter comes into its own, because if any arousal shows, it's going to be below the level you'd expect from the evidence of your eyes and ears. Trust the meter.
4. Does not want to discover abuse. It's often there in these cases, but you'll have difficulty getting them to face it, and sometimes a fair degree of negative transference, manifesting as anger, when they do. Once they have discharged the associated emotions, though, they'll usually announce that they don't feel anywhere near as bad as they had always believed they would if they found such a thing.
5. Wants to discover abuse. The dodgy one. He or she will seize on the tiniest shred of what they perceive to be evidence. They are usually Anal/Hysteric personalities and will attempt to get you to tell them that they're looking at abuse here. These people are dangerous to us, because if they make some sort of accusation about a relative somewhere along the line, only to discover that they could not possibly be right, then they're going to insist that their therapist must've put it into their mind. And they'd be believed.
So we really do have to be enormously careful. A child is dependent upon adults for their survival and their intention is generally to please. Their false beliefs may very well be detailed and dramatic, if they think that's what you want. Again, who is playing the role of the elder and who is playing the role of the child during therapy? If you allow your client one tiny sniff of what you're seeking, then the chances are that you'll find it.
Not surprisingly, several of those present took issue with me about my assertion that false memories do not exist as such. So I asked if anybody could give me a false memory and was quickly assured that any one present could (they were all therapists). I asked if they could give me a false memory of having won a million pounds at a Casino. Apparently not. It was tentatively suggested that only bad memories could be induced, 'because of the way the psyche works'. So I suggested they gave me a memory of having won and lost a million pounds in one evening at the Casino. Again, not a likely proposition apparently, though nobody seemed clear why this should be so. Not sexual enough, I reckon, and therefore not fashionable enough.
In a connected vein, it's very interesting to realize that in the 70's, it was not sexual abuse that was considered to be the cause of all our problems; it was parental neglect. Then, huge numbers of individuals who underwent any form of psychotherapy discovered just that in their past... Satanic ritual, sexual abuse, neglect, bloody trauma or alien abduction.... be careful what you look for, because you - and your client - are sure to find it. Copyright Terence Watts, 1995 (excerpt) & 1996.
Ralph Underwager and Wife Holliada Wakefield Underwager, coauthored Return of the Furies Ralph C. Underwager, age 74, of Northfield, died November 29, 2003. Born in Elgin, Illinois. Survived by wife, Hollida Wakefield Underwager; son, Mark Underwager; daughter, Rachel (Thomas) Larson; stepdaughter, Jean Dickson (Timothy) Feeney; grandchildren, Benjamin and Jana Larson, Claire and James Feeney; and sister Kay Gillespie. Preceded in death by his stepson James Wakefield Dickson.
Dr. Underwager, a 1955 graduate of the Concordia Seminary, was an ordained pastor with the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. He served as pastor at Lynwood Lutheran Church (California), Zion Lutheran Church, St. Paul Lutheran Church (Iowa) and Grace Lutheran Church (Colorado). He was assistant pastor at Christ Church Lutheran in Minneapolis from 1966 to 1976. From 1980 to 1983, he was associate pastor at the Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Chanhassen.
Dr. Underwager received his Ph.D. in 1970 from the University of Minnesota. He was a research scientist at Youth Research Center in Minneapolis from 1969 to 1972. From 1972 to 1975, he was an associate professor at St. Olaf College in Northfield. In 1974, Dr. Underwager founded the Institute for Psychological Therapies and served as its director with his wife Hollida Wakefield until the time of his death. In 1989, Dr. Underwager was elected a Fellow with the American Psychological Society. Over the years, Dr. Underwager consulted in over 1000 cases of sexual abuse of children as well as false accusations of sexual abuse. As a licensed psychologist, Dr. Underwager and his wife published books and papers, and presented numerous seminars and workshops on sexual abuse allegations and related issues.
IN MEMORIAM OF RALPH UNDERWAGER FROM FALSE MEMORY SYNDROME FOUNDATION: Ralph C. Underwager, Ph.D. It is with sadness that we note the death of Ralph C. Underwager on November 29, 2003, at the age of 72. Dr. Underwager began his career as a Lutheran minister. After he received his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1970, he taught at St. Olaf College until 1975. At that time, he founded the Institute for Psychological Therapies in Northfield, MN where he served as director until his death. Many FMSF families learned about the Foundation through Ralph and Hollida Wakefield (Ralph's widow). His calm advice gave comfort to many who had been devastated by the loss of a child and an accusation of decades-old child abuse. Dr. Underwager is the author of many articles and books. Return of the Furies, written with Holly Wakefield, was one of the first books published about the recovered memory phenomenon Holly Wakefield said that people "either thought [Ralph] was great or he was the devil." That is because Dr. Underwager was one of the first people to caution about the importance of careful interviews with children so that false memories would not be formed. Ralph was willing to be an expert in cases in which he felt that a person had been falsely accused of child abuse, and, as a consequence, he created many enemies. Mary Lou Robinson, an attorney in Wisconsin who consulted with Dr. Underwager, commented that he could have made an easy writing about what people wanted to hear. But he didn't because he was a children's advocate. He was deeply concerned about what children were saying and about
EXCERPTS FROM RETURN OF THE FURIES: HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD & RALPH UNDERWAGER: (1994) Open Court. Chicago, IL
The recent progression to involvement in notions of recovered memory, with the acting out of anger by confrontations, legal action, and total alienation that is supposed to heal the damaged childhood sexual abuse, makes it clear that the entire venture is based on irrationality and rage. The system and the persons in it dealing with child abuse have pushed it too far and committed intellectual suicide for there is not credible scientific support for either the basic concepts of recovered 'repressed' or 'dissociated' memories or claims of satanic, ritualistic abuse.
But here, in the nation that is the model for what the rest of the world only hopes for, the return of the Furies, the ancient matriarchal Greek goddesses of vengeance and vitriol, rage and bitterness, threatens to overturn our freedom with tyranny and our reason with irrationality...Gender warfare breaks out in wild and bizarre attacks and convoluted reasoning produces wholesale blaming of entire categories of persons, for example: (p. 19) all men are rapists; all women are emotional and hysterical. Whining and complaining replace courage, self-reliance, and personal responsibility. Random acts of violence shatter the veneer of order. Victimization supersedes virtue and political correctness covers rudeness and ill-mannered behaviors unthinkable 20 years ago. These actions and attitudes are those of the ancient Furies for whom justice is vengeance, reason is intuition, and healing is rage. (p. 20)
The recent emergence of claims by adult children of repressed memories of childhood abuse, undercovered in the course of therapy, illuminates the serious threat to our society produced by the system set up to deal with sexual abuse of children. The emotions and concepts of the bottom of these social phenomena are the antithesis of the foundational ideas of Western Civilization. The therapeutic state has triumphed and is eroding both freedom and reason. Radical feminism feeds these concepts and introduces the behaviors that represent a modern return of the ancient Furies of Greek drama and religion. The concepts and convictions of those who believed the unfounded dogmas and unsupported claims of the system that has developed around child sexual suggest that this is another experience of conspiracy theory, victimization, and a paranoid style of thinking that has entrapped many, many citizens. (p. 43)
Accounts from Retractors: For the next three years, this problem ruled my life. I was obsessed as how unresolved it all felt. I was tormented constantly. I became too sick to work regularly and went on disability as I could not work without having 'flashbacks.' I did little besides reading The Courage to Heal and crying and feeling depressed and angry. It didn't seem as though I was 'healing' at all, but instead was just getting worse. I felt a desperate need to remember more of what happened to me so I could get well and get on with my life. I was always think and trying, trying hard to remember. (103-104) I tried all the 'tricks' in The Courage to Heal and the Workbook, but still I could not remember anything concrete, although I was convinced that it had happened. Hoping to get away from my pain, I moved to another state. At the same time, I was constantly beset y doubts about my experience. It felt that I was 'making it up,' but it said in The Courage to Heal that memories often feel that way.
At the recommendation of friends, therapist, and a person I knew who had started an organization called Sexual Abuse Victims Enlightenment, I started litigation against my father for imagined childhood rape. I was told that I would be 'validated' by doing this and that it would help my 'healing' along by much. (p. 104)...I have since stopped the litigation against my father and apologize to him and my family. I still remain perplexed and disturbed as to how this all could have happened to me, but I know The Courage to Heal book had a lot to do with it, along with three different therapist who coached me over a period of three years. During this time, I also saw two different psychiatrists, but the psychiatrists did not encourage the false memories as the other therapist did - in fact they expressed doubts that my memories were real. (p.105)
My therapist keep me involved in digging up my past. He kept looking for more, more, more! He kept asking me if I had no memories of being sexual abused and I kept saying no. He the begin telling me that I had all the symptoms of an incest victim and that the only way out for me was to "recovery a memory, relive it and heal from it." I was so depressed and I desperately wanted to feel better. I began to have a series of hospitalizations as I grew more and more depressed and suicidal. I asked a psychiatrist at one hospital if my psychological testing showed any indication of sexual abuse and he said no. My outside therapist disagreed and kept pushing. (p. 113)
I was finally hospitalized in a women's program whose main focus was on sexual abuse issues. I still continued not to have memories. I felt like I was flunking therapy. At the hospital, I watch real victims really struggle with their issues. As I look back now I am convinced that there was another woman whose memories were false. I didn't believe her even then. I began to have periods of severe anxiety and I was told these were probably 'body memories' and 'flashbacks.' I thought this is what I had to do to get better. By now I was diagnosed with PTSD and MPD. The hospital was trying to teach me who to 'manage the flashbacks.' (p. 113-114)
When I left the hospital in March of 1989, I still had no memories and I was obsessed with finding one. All my energy was focussed on journals, therapy, etc. I had to get help taking care of my children and house. My therapy was my life. When I was not in the therapist's office, I was thinking about all the time of talking to him. I spoke with him on the phone every night for about 20 minutes.
Finally, I recalled having been given an enema as a child. The therapy become focused on regressing me to an early age around five and reliving the enema over and over again. He tried to convince me that my mother took great pleasure in inflicting this kind of pain on me. He called her a sex addict and sexual pervert. He said my parents were toxic for me and that I should screen all my phone calls and not see them. (p. 114)
This past year has been very painful to me as I've really begun to acknowledge what I lost as a result of therapy. I went from being a very productive woman who was raising three children and was serving on a school committee (I had formed a parent-teacher organization and was quite known and respected in my community) to a dependent, depressed, repressed, and suicidal woman. (p. 115-116)
In all the cases in which we have been involved and in the stories from the retractors, the effects of recovered memory therapy is iatrogenic (Iatrogenic: Caused by the diagnosis, manner, or treatment of a physician. In other words, the illness is caused by the doctor's intervention.) As therapy progresses, the person becomes sicker. The diagnosis become more serious. the person often becomes unable to function. We have reviewed many thick stacks of medical documents that demonstrate this. The retractors also give vivid descriptions of their psychological determination. (p;. 116) (From Laura Pasle, a retractor who successful sued her therapist.) These therapists are doing something as evil as evil can be. It wasn't just my life they took. I had a six-year-old daughter when I began treatment. When I woke up she was 12.) p. 117)
Therapists who claim to uncover 'repressed' memories are part of a network of professionals who believe that as many as half of all women have suffered childhood sexual abuse but that many have repressed their memories. Summit refers to the victims "we don't know about, those who don't disclose" and asserts that the memory of abuse is often buried within a conscious memory of a happy childhood. He says that half of all women were abused in childhood but many do not remember the abuse and recommends using therapy methods that are "invasive and intrusive" in order to uncover the abuse. (p. 125)
Yapko concludes that too many therapists treat their patients on the basis of their personal beliefs and philosophies, and not according to an objective consideration of the facts. His survey indicates that many practitioners are misinformed about basic scientific issues and that having an advanced degree does not prevent the therapist from erroneous assumptions about memory, suggestibility, and hypnosis. (p. 133)
MORE BOOKS ON FALSE MEMORIES:
R. Van Til Wassil-Grimm Waters & Ofshe