The Memory War – Jennifer Freyd accused her father of sexual abuse. Her parents’ attempt to discredit her created a defense for countless sex offenders.

January 19, 2021 Comments Off on The Memory War – Jennifer Freyd accused her father of sexual abuse. Her parents’ attempt to discredit her created a defense for countless sex offenders.

The Memory War – Jennifer Freyd accused her father of sexual abuse. Her parents’ attempt to discredit her created a defense for countless sex offenders.
By Katie Heaney
https://www.thecut.com/amp/article/false-memory-syndrome-controversy.html

“Pam and Peter Freyd retaliated. In the wake of Jennifer’s disclosure, they formed an organization called the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. Through the nonprofit’s work, they popularized a term — false memory — that became one of the most effective tools to instill doubt not only about allegations of child sex abuse but in all forms of sexual violence. Between 1992, when the foundation was launched, and December 2019, when it abruptly shuttered, it bolstered the defense strategy employed by countless sex offenders, from Michael Jackson to Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein.”

“Peter (Freyd) was always interested in Jennifer’s (Freyd) sex life. On one occasion, when kissing a high-school boyfriend while seated on her bed, Jennifer caught her father watching them from her open doorway. Another time, she found him reading her diary; he accused her of purposely leaving it out where he could see it. Jennifer felt an enormous relief when she left for college at age 16, though visiting home for the holidays made it clear that little had changed: When guests came over for dinner and drinks, Peter told them the family’s toy poodle, Carbon, humped people to whom Jennifer was sexually attracted.

“In a variation on the (Lost in the Mall) mall study published in 1997, researchers sought to emphasize this distinction by presenting subjects with one true memory and two false ones: being lost in the mall and receiving a rectal enema. The hypothesis was that the less plausible event, the enema, wouldn’t create false memories so easily. Three of 20 subjects “remembered” having been lost in the mall. Zero remembered the enema.

“The typical response was ‘No fucking way. That didn’t happen,’ ” says Kathy Pezdek, a cognitive psychologist and an expert in eyewitness memory, who conducted the experiment.

Coan, Loftus’s former student and now a neuroscientist and psychology professor at the University of Virginia, has decidedly mixed feelings about the experiment he inadvertently spearheaded. “I’m slow enough on the uptake that it took me a while to realize that the study I was doing was making people who had been sexually abused feel like I was their enemy,” he tells me. “That was completely devastating to me.” Although he has been asked to testify about false memory in countless court cases, Coan has always refused. He just doesn’t think the mall study is sufficiently relevant. In her excitement, he thinks, Loftus may have “mischaracterized” what started out as an undergraduate assignment for extra credit.

“I got five points,” Coan says. “Five points and decades of grief.”

“….But while the (False Memory Syndrome) foundation may be gone, its legacy is likely to be long-lasting. Stories of brainwashed daughters falsely accusing their parents have become a staple of popular culture, from talk shows like Sally Jessy Raphael to PBS documentaries like Divided Memories. “I was just astounded that this big lie could be perpetrated with impunity and with great success across all major media,” says Hopper, the Harvard psychologist. The concept of false memory does more than provide child sex abusers with a pseudoscientific defense — it offers a perversely reassuring explanation for anyone who wants to believe that such abuse is less common than it actually is. While statistics vary by source, an epidemiological overview of worldwide data estimates that 8 percent of boys and 20 percent of girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. And contrary to the FMSF’s claims, most victims of child sex abuse are extremely reluctant to share their abuse with others or reporting it to the police.”

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