Trauma and Memory – The Science and the Silenced
November 4, 2021 Comments Off on Trauma and Memory – The Science and the Silenced
Trauma and Memory – The Science and the Silenced
Recently a new book was published about the False Memory Movement. Over the years, this movement has been extremely damaging for trauma, rape, child abuse and ritual abuse survivors and their helpers. This movement has used propaganda, bullying, harassment, disinformation and pseudoscientific research to bolster its claims. The False Memory Movement has been used to defend accused and convicted pedophiles, rapists and murderers.
Fortunately there have been many brave therapists, researchers and survivors that have spent years fighting the false memory movement’s pseudoscience, including inaccurate statements denying traumatic amnesia and denying the traumagenic origins of dissociative identity disorder.
This new book “Trauma and Memory – The Science and the Silence” is an excellent resource for those who continue the fight against false memory disinformation. The book consolidates older historic information from Freud’s era and the 1980’s and 1990’s as well as newer research about more recent events.
We highly recommend this book. There is a hard copy and e-book available at the website below. “The abuse of science to silence the abused” by the false memory movement has been exposed once again. https://www.routledge.com/Trauma-and-Memory-The-Science-and-the-Silenced/Sinason-Conway/p/book/9781032044293
Trauma and Memory
The Science and the Silenced
Trauma and Memory will assist mental health experts and professionals, as well as the interested public, in understanding the scientific issues around trauma memory, and how this differs from other areas of memory.
This book provides accounts of the damage caused to psychology and survivors internationally by false memory groups and ideas. It is unequivocally passionate about the truth of trauma memory and exposing the damaging disinformation that can seep into the field. Contributors to this book include leading professionals from the field of criminology, law, psychology and psychotherapy in the UK and USA, along with survivor-professionals who understand only too well the damage such disinformation can cause.
This book is a valuable resource for mental health professionals of all disciplines including those involved with relevant law and public health policy. It will also help survivors and survivor-professionals in gaining insight into the forces resisting disclosure.
Valerie Sinason, PhD, is a widely published Writer and Psychoanalyst. She has pioneered disability and trauma-informed therapy for over 30 years, is President of the Institute of Psychotherapy and Disability, Founder and Patron of the Clinic for Dissociative Studies and on the Board of the ISSTD.
Ashley Conway, PhD, AFBPsS, is a Counselling Psychologist. He has worked in a wide range of fields of trauma, ranging through severe critical incidents to long term abuse, and has published widely in these areas. He is currently the Chair of the Clinic for Dissociative Studies in London, UK.
ISBN: 978-1-032-04432-3 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-032-04429-3 (pbk)
ISBN: 978-1-003-19315-9 (ebk) DOI: 10.4324/9781003193159
1 In conversation with Ross Cheit ASHLEY CONWAY
2 False memory syndrome movement: The origins and the promoters MARJORIE ORR
3 The rocky road to false memories: Stories the media missed LYNN CROOK
4 Re-examining the “Lost in the Mall”: study Were “false memories” created to promote a false defence? In conversation with Ruth Blizard VALERIE SINASON
5 Evaluating false memory research WINJA BUSS
6 The abuse of science to silence the abused ASHLEY CONWAY
7 False memory syndrome SUSIE ORBACH
8 Trauma, skin: memory, speech ANN SCOTT
9 Sigmund Freud’s concept of repression: Historical and empirical perspectives BRETT KAHR
10 Terror in the consulting room – memory, trauma and dissociation PHIL MOLLON
11 How can we remember but be unable to recall? The complex functions of multi-modular memory MARY SUE MOORE
12 What if I should die? JENNIFER JOHNS
13 Finding a new narrative: Meaningful responses to “false memory” disinformation MICHAEL SALTER
14 “Do no harm”? KHADIJA ROUF AND DANNY TAGGART Excerpts: page 1 The FMS model provided an explanation for the beginning of the exposure of the scale of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) worldwide, and it enabled the awful truth to be displaced. The multitude of stories of abuse that were beginning to be made public could be explained away – they could be blamed on the therapists who were hearing their clients’ histories.
As long as truth struggles with power, there will be offshoots of such models of displacement and the history of denial goes far back. The FMS may have gone off-grid for now, but it is simply another move in the theories of denial of abuse, and more efforts to silence the truth will follow. The principles remain the same.
The account of Cassandra tragically fits Jennifer Freyd’s concept of DARVO (Freyd, 1997). DARVO stands for Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender. This is the common response of a person or an institution that will not accept responsibility and accountability for the violations they have caused.
Jennifer Freyd regarding her parents (FMSF founders):….The grandparents had an affair which culminated after 11 years in marriage, at which time Pamela and Peter Freyd also married aged 18 and 20. Professor Freyd recollected her father speaking openly of his own childhood homosexual liaison as an 11-year-old with a paedophile artist. She remembered being made to dance nude in front of him aged 9 with a friend; of being taught to kiss on the mouth “like an adult” for a school play aged 11 in front of the cast….he continually made sexual comments which were regarded as normal in the family….He drank heavily through her childhood and was hospitalised for alcoholism.
page 26 – 27
Another key figure in the FMS movement is New Zealand doctor, Felicity Goodyear-Smith. Her book First Do No Harm is subtitled “The Sexual Abuse Industry” (Goodyear-Smith, 1993)….The major theme in First Do No Harm is that sexual abuse is a cultural taboo. There is no intrinsic moral objection to adult–child sexual contact and no automatic damage caused by it. Underwager and Wakefield are quoted as the principal references.
Felicity Goodyear-Smith admits to a personal as well as professional involvement in the abuse field. Her husband and parents-in-law were imprisoned for sexual abuse offences, having been members of a New Zealand community, CentrePoint, which encouraged sexual intimacy amongst its members, including the children.
The author quotes studies that purport to show that adult–child sex can be harmless. Under a section on “Children’s Sexual Rights” she describes groups, such as the Paedophile Information Exchange, the Rene Guyon Society (“sex by eight, or it’s too late”), and the North American Man/Boy Love Association, as “holding radical beliefs regarding children’s sexual rights”.
Some have suggested the media’s failure to challenge the false memory scenario reflected a need to deny the scale of the sexual abuse of children. Perhaps their editors failed to encourage a critical analysis of the story because everyone else was covering it – so it must be true. Some reporters may have failed to question the story because they had been accused of molesting a child. Others may have been protecting someone.
The government’s witnesses included many of the individuals who had appeared in Frontline producer Ofra Bikel’s “The Search for Satan”. In court, their stories did not hold up as well as they had in Bikel’s interviews. Under cross-examination by Peterson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, Shanley conceded on 8 October 1997 that she could not name any memories that were implanted. The Houston Chronicle headline on 8 October 1998 announced, “Former patient can’t attribute false memories to therapy” (Smith, 1999). On 1 March 1999 the government moved to dismiss the indictment. The national media did not cover the story.
Believing that one had been lost while shopping in childhood is not analogous to remembering sexual abuse. In fact, a large proportion of subjects can be convinced that they were lost in a mall as children, but none could be led to falsely believe they had been administered enemas (Pezdek, Finger & Hodge, 1997).
The first six subjects in the formal mall study failed to develop false memories (Coan, 1993), but those results were never published. In the second iteration of the formal mall study (Loftus & Pickrell, 1995), there is little explicit description of the methods of recruitment of subjects, experimental controls or training of investigators….Most importantly, no evidence is presented that any subjects formed full false memories. Nevertheless, the authors imply that, based on study results, they “are providing an ‘existence proof’ for the phenomenon of false memory formation” (pp. 723–4).
Rather, most false memory studies attempt to suggest to subjects that they experienced much more commonplace events, such as getting lost, spilling a bowl of punch, going for a balloon ride, or getting sick after eating eggs. It may be profitable to wonder whether many of the false memory researchers have been swept up in the FMSF campaign to exonerate parents who claim they have been falsely accused.
Other researchers and authors attempting to criticise false memory studies may have been intimidated. Between 1992 and 2017, nearly two dozen psychologists, psychiatrists, attorneys, authors, researchers, journalists, and abuse survivors have been subjected to ad hominem attacks by Loftus (Crook, personal communication, 2019). Those defamed include Ellen Bass, E. Sue Blume, Martha Dean, Laura Brown, Mary Harvey, Jim Coan’s mother, Judith Herman, David Calof, Kenneth Pope, David Corwin, Diana Russell, Lynn Crook, Lenore Walker, Laura Davis, Charles Whitfield, B. J. Levy, Neil Brick, Karen Olio, Bessel van der Kolk, Holly Ramona, Nicole Taus Kluemper and Gerald Koocher.
Many academics may be equally motivated to deny the existence of child abuse as was Freud. Those who gain considerable income from testifying in defence of accused perpetrators, as have Underwager, Gardner and Loftus, may have additional motivation for claiming that abuse accusations were fabricated.
Careful analysis of the research shows it is not easy to implant false memories of childhood abuse. False memories with autobiographical belief, recollective experiences and confidence in memory are rare to non-existent.
The false memory syndrome (FMS) advocates do not want evidence of false negatives – that we can experience something and then be persuaded that it did not happen, because that would not suit their narrative.
….There is no evidence that anyone has ever had a false belief implanted that they were sexually abused as a child.
Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is the most severe of all dissociative disorders, and its features include recurrent amnesia. Recent research (Reinders et al., 2019) has demonstrated that individuals with DID can be distinguished from healthy controls on the basis of abnormal brain morphology.
….“Every single scientific study of memory of childhood sexual abuse, whether prospective or retrospective, whether studying clinical samples or general population samples, finds that a certain percentage of sexually abused individuals forget, and later remember, their abuse” (Van der Kolk, 2014, note on p. 398 re. p. 190).
As McMaugh and Middleton (2020) state, “the ‘false memory’ movement enabled society to ignore a whole new generation of abused children”.
Merchants of Doubt (Oreskes & Conway, 2010) is an informative book written to describe how vested interests have manipulated the media, to mislead and confuse in areas of great importance to society, including smoking, acid rain and climate change….they create an institute, with scientific advisors who can use their credentials to present themselves as authorities. The advisors cherry-pick data to advance a position, present ideas as if they were facts and use their authority to try to discredit any science they do not like. They use the mass media, making simplified, dramatic statements to capture public attention and draw in journalists to give their minority views more credence than they deserve. They then use these press stories, quoting them as if they were facts. If there is an individual whose opinions are contradictory to the desired line, ad hominem attacks are an option.
Sigmund Freud also realised that repressions could be lifted as a result of psychoanalytical treatment. In his essay on “Trauer und Melancholie” (Freud, 1917a), better known in English as “Mourning and Melancholia” (Freud, 1917b), he observed that the clinical process of psychoanalysis will frequently activate memories, and, that after treatment has progressed satisfactorily, repressed and unconscious memories will eventually return to the fore of consciousness, no longer subject to the disguise of repression.
Nevertheless, Erdelyi’s data does most certainly substantiate Freud’s claim that repressed material can return to consciousness, simply as a result of talking….Astonishingly, 38% of the sample of 129 women did not report the abuse, which Williams and colleagues knew, on the basis of hospital records, had, in fact, occurred.
Survivor accounts, combined with scientific advances in the understanding of trauma, are creating enriched understandings of how abuse can injure the usual process of memory and psychological functioning. Time is yielding an opportunity to reshape public understandings of trauma and its aftermath. This could lead to the correcting of harmful narratives which have led to unethical treatment of survivors, through denial, victim-blaming, or “othering”.