FMS Foundation Newsletter
Vol 4 No. 9, October 1, 1995
3401 Market Street suite 130, Philadelphia, PA 19104, (215-387-1865)
This address and the phone numbers have changed as of July 15, 2000
The FMSF Newsletter is published 10 times a year by the False
Memory Syndrome Foundation. A hard-copy subscription is in-
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Make a Difference
From Our Readers
"Have you no decency?
At long last, have you no sense of decency?"
Powerful words to those of us of a certain age. To read these famous
words from the McCarthy hearings in the _Boston Globe _on September 8,
in a review of the 20/20 program about the Amirault case, marks a real
shift in the public perception and acknowledgement of the problem of
false accusations of sexual abuse. Violet Amirault, 71, and her
daughter, who spent almost a decade in prison after being convicted in
the Fells Acre Day Care case, were released last month. The quote was
in reference to Massachusetts prosecutors who wish to retry the
"ABUSING JUSTICE, IN THE NAME OF CHILDREN"
_Boston Globe_, September 8, 1995
"THE ABUSE OF CHILD ABUSE"
Rome, GA _News-Tribune_ September 3, 1995
"FALSE CHARGES, RUINED LIVES"
_The Toronto Sun_, August 23, 1995
Something is happening around the country. Citizen groups as
geographically apart as Florida, California and Connecticut formed
this month to work for justice for wrongfully accused people.
That "something" is happening without compromising our country's
effort to deal with child abuse and its devastating consequences. The
courts are now trying to find a better balance between protecting our
children while maintaining our system of justice. The great mass-abuse
cases of the '80s are being overturned one by one. There is growing
recognition that false accusations deter efforts to help children by
deflecting scarce resources and undermining credibility. This shift
follows in the wake of better public understanding of issues of memory
and suggestibility. The Foundation has played a pivotal role in the
In the August 31, 1995 issue of _The New England Journal of
Medicine_, Fred Frankel, M.D. explains why he serves on the Advisory
Board of the FMSF. He notes that "Professionals with no special agenda
of their own, who receive no material reward, have lent their names
and advice to the foundation to signify that there is a body of
concerned professionals who seriously question the emphatic assertions
of some of their colleagues about memories of childhood trauma." At
issue is the scientific evidence for the claims of repressed memories.
The FMS Foundation and its Scientific Advisory Board are concerned
with disseminating the most accurate and up-to-date information about
memory so that people can make more informed decisions. The shift that
we are seeing in the courts is due in part to the fact that more
accurate information about memory and suggestibility is now available.
Letters from families tell of a shift, too. In September, the number
of letters from families with concerns about reintegrating was greater
than from families asking how to reach their children. One month does
not make a trend and only research can tell us what it means. We will
continue to monitor this and keep you informed about what we learn.
The letters reflect the wide range of problems and feelings with which
families are now struggling. They provide insight for other families
and for professionals in what is going on and what may be helpful to
families. This issue has an expanded section of letters.
The FMS Foundation is frequently asked to provide the "number" of
individuals in various categories that we have described, such as
affected family contacts, retractors or lawsuits. Numbers always seem
to fascinate people and when the Foundation was trying to document
that there was a problem, we often updated numbers in the newsletter.
We believe that it is now clear that false memories are a social
problem. When one person reports something, it may be a problem to
that person but it is not a social problem. When 1,000 people from
across the country report the same circumstance, the existence of a
real problem seems likely. When 10,000 people make similar reports, it
is clear that there is a very serious problem that needs to be
We stopped reporting numbers a few months after we announced that
10,000 people had told us that an adult, most often female, generally
around the age of 30 or 40, typically in some sort of therapy setting
had claimed to have "recovered repressed memories" that she had never
known about before, made accusations and cut off all contact with
anyone who would not validate the new beliefs. We stopped reporting
numbers because we believed that we had documented the existence of a
problem. The fact that all the professional organizations have
responded in some way to FMS supports our position.
With the recognition that the problem of FMS exists, the next
question is "How does the problem happen?" The first professional
conference that attempted to answer that question was a conference
sponsored by the Foundation in April 1993, "Memory and Reality:
Emerging Crisis." The past two years have seen an avalanche of
scholarly papers that deal with all aspects of how people may come to
believe in things that did not actually happen. The papers include
such topics as descriptions of experiments in which false memories are
implanted, reviews of research in many different areas such as Freud's
methodology, the relationship between eating disorders and sexual
abuse, the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and adult
psychopathology, and the documentation of histories of abuse for MPD
patients. Several important books have also appeared. To supplement
these papers and books, we have television documentaries of therapy
sessions and court documents of therapy sessions.
We have the first hand reports and insights of former patients.
There is now a solid body of research and evidence that explains how
people come to have false memories. While the "processes" of memory
may help us understand how false memories are created, that knowledge
is independent of the numbers of people who are affected by the
The significant questions now shift to, "What is it that causes
people to realize or acknowledge that their memories were false?" and
"How can we contribute to solving the problem in general and the
problem for individual families?" Attempting to deal with these issues
required the Foundation to look to other sources of data than the
number of families who are affected by FMS. Of course it would be
interesting to know with some precision how widespread the phenomenon
might be, but that is the work of demographers or epidemiologists
with the resources to do the appropriate large scale random sampling
of populations. The people who contact the Foundation do not represent
a random sample. While it is a highly select sample, it is an ideal
population to help us learn what happens in families in these terrible
circumstances. By studying this, we can try to help others. After
documenting that FMS was a problem, that is the direction in which the
Foundation shifted its resources.
The Foundation is committed to continuing its work in educating the
public and professionals about the most accurate and up-to-date
information about memory through its publications, speakers' bureau,
continuing education efforts and the media. To support this, we will
continue to document the FMS phenomenon with archives of videotapes,
audiotapes, books, articles and personal histories. The Foundation is
committed to doing all that we can to help people deal with the loss
and disruption to their families and later to their reintegration. We
are families, retractors and professionals working together.
| PLENTY OF WORK LEFT TO DO! |
| From the Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital publication, |
| _Notebook _Vol 4 #3, Fall 1995 |
| "There are all sorts of therapeutic techniques to aid in |
| reconstructing the trauma story. These include hypnosis, group |
| therapy and psychodrama, as well as biological methods, such as |
| sodium amytal. These techniques are only effective if integrated |
| into psychotherapy and practiced by skilled clinicians. However, |
| traumatic memories may not be accessible by language since they |
| are sometimes recorded in the form of vivid sensations and images."|
CONTINUING EDUCATION UPDATE
The False Memory Syndrome Foundation and Johns Hopkins Medical
Institutions are finalizing details on a series of one-day
professional conferences that they will be cosponsoring in the spring
of 1996. Medical continuing education credits will be provided, and we
are in the process of making arrangements for other professionals who
attend the workshops to earn continuing education credits. The four
workshops will take place in San Diego, Atlanta, Chicago and Boston.
Paul McHugh, M.D. and Pamela Freyd, Ph.D. will be among the presenters
at the four locations, in addition to other faculty at each of the
locations mentioned. Johns Hopkins and the Foundation are also
looking toward the Spring of 1997 for another national conference to
be held in Baltimore.
Discussions are also underway with members of the bar to present
continuing education programs for their colleagues. The importance of
these kinds of programs is evident to readers of the _Newsletter_.
Watch future issues for more complete details of these conferences as
they are developed.
(Call 800-568-8882 or 215-387-8663 for information about Continuing
Education or the FMSF Speakers Bureau.)
"THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH?"
_Los Angeles Times_, August 25, 1995 Elizabeth Loftus
"The more people think about an event from the past (the more they
rehearse), the more confident they become in their memories. The
problem is that they get more confident in their inaccurate memories
as well as their accurate ones. And the more people are pressed for
details about the past (the more they rehearse), the more details they
try to dredge up as they desperately cast about to fill in blank spots
"Psychological research has shown that juries are most impressed by
witnesses who express ideas confidently and provide lots of details.
Yet how confident and detailed witnesses are can bear little
relationship to the accuracy of what they say. People can say 'I'm
absolutely certain' and offer lots of facts to support their testimony
and still be dead wrong.
"A healthy appreciation for the psychology of memory in general and
the malleability of memory and its tenuous relationship to certainty
focuses new light on the contradictions in the Simpson trial. When
Rosa Lopez confidently says the car was there and Charles Cale says
just as confidently that it was not, is someone lying? Not
"They've both undoubtedly been well-rehearsed to say what they have
publicly said. Their confident and detailed testimony could be
diametrically opposed, but they still are plausibly telling the
truth. Their own individual truth. Their own rehearsed truth."
"WHERE DOES RESEARCH ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF PSYCHOTHERAPY
Steven J. Kingsbury, M.D., Ph.D.
_Harvard Mental Lealth Letter_, September 1995
Some facts from this short article:
"Behavioral and cognitive behavioral therapies have more consistent
and lasting effects than medications in the treatment of panic
disorder, agoraphobia, simple phobias, and to a lesser extent, social
phobias. Medications and behavioral techniques are equally effective
in obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and
generalized anxiety disorder. Behavioral therapies of the kind
originally developed by Masters and Johnson are more effective than
medications in the treatment of sexual dysfunction."
"...In the treatment of major depression without psychotic features,
behavioral, cognitive behavioral, and interpersonal psychotherapies
are as effective as antidepressant drugs. Psychodynamically oriented
therapies are less useful, but better than a placebo....Almost all
adequately tested psychotherapies are short-term (under 20 sessions).
...The efficacy of classical psychoanalysis and other long-term
therapies remains untested."
"APA TO PURSUE PRESCRIPTION PRIVILEGES"
_Monitor_, September 1995
The American Psychological Association's Council of Representatives
voted on August 10 in favor of developing curricula that would prepare
psychologists to prescribe. They also plan to draft model legislation
that, if enacted by the states or Congress, would give psychologists
the regulatory go-ahead to prescribe for patients.
"HOW CAN I REMEMBER WHEN "I" WASN'T THERE:
LONG-TERM RETENTION OF
TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCES AND EMERGENCE OF THE COGNITIVE SELF."
Howe, Courage and Peterson
_Consciousness & Cognition_ 3, Num 3/4 (1994)
Special Issue: Recovered Memory/False Memory Debate
The researchers, who are specialists in the area of infant amnesia,
sought to reconcile the discrepency between the scientific research
showing that there is no evidence for long-term memory for events for
people younger than two with the reports in the media and in legal
cases of people claiming to have remembered abuse from a time younger
than two. They sought to see if perhaps such recollections are
possible because of strong emotional content. They studied 25 cases of
young children's long-term retention of early traumatic events
involving emergency room treatment. Analysis was both qualitative and
Among the results were that autobiographical memories for traumatic
events are essentially no different from those for nontraumatic events
and that stress is only related to long-term retention inasmuch as it
is one variable that serves to make an event unique.
As a result of their study they remarked that"...it seems safe to
conclude that trauma memories are as reliable as any other memory and
that, like any unique experience, they are more memorable than other,
everyday events only to the extent that they are distinct from other
episodes in memory."
"THE PROS AND CONS OF DISSOCIATIVE IDENTITY DISORDER"
David Spiegel, M.D. and Paul McHugh, M.D.
_Journal of Practical Psychiatry and Behavioral Health_
September, 1995, pp 158-166
By addressing four specific issues, this article advances our
understanding of the evidence and arguments on which two leading
authorities base their different perspectives of MPD (DID). Spiegel
and McHugh each present their positions on:
Spiegel - argues that MPD (DID) is naturally occurring and is more
prevalent now because previously undiagnosed cases are being
recognized. In the past it is possible that schizophrenia was
misdiagnosed in many patients when they really had dissociative
McHugh - argues that MPD (DID) is an artifact that is a culturally
driven misdirection of psychiatry and psychotherapy. The idea spread
widely among therapists who were supported in the search for victims
of abuse by sociopolitical movements identifying mediating
institutions such as the family as exploitative and paternalistic.
CONCEPT OF DISSOCIATION:
Spiegel - views dissociation as the failure to integrate elements of
identity, consciousness and memory. The term "dissociation" emphasizes
separateness "rather than the loss of natural integration." The form
of dissociative identity disorders is culturally bound. Eastern
disorders of identity involve incorporation of an external identity
from the social world, while those in the West involve fragmentation
of individual identity.
McHugh - says that dissociation is a problematic concept and not a
symptom. The major difficulty has been what to include or exclude.
Because its assumptions are subtly tied to those of associationism,
dissociation has been applied to almost every psychopathological
symptom at one time or another. Dissociation is a concept in need of
restraint. It is a descriptive metaphor that can easily masquerade as
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TRAUMA AND DISSOCIATION:
Spiegel - notes that in a disaster there is a sense of helplessness.
Victims can detach from the current experience. "This detachment from
current experience can be understood both as a defense against trauma
as it is occurring and as an incorporation of the view of self imposed
by the stressor: the "I" is made into an "it." If there is something
to the connection between trauma and dissociation, then dissociative
symptoms should occur in the aftermath of trauma, and indeed this is
what has been found....The symptoms turned out to be strong predictors
of the development of later posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)."
McHugh - says "The 'numbing' phenomena seen with acute grief and
during and after a catastrophe or other trauma are expressions of
depersonalization but are time limited. Dissociation is not
depersonalization and vice versa. Dissociation is a concept and not a
symptom...Dissociation no more encompasses depersonalization -- a
qualitative alternation in the 'sense of consciousness' itself -- than
it does other symptoms of consciousness such as faintness."
CURRENT TREATMENTS FOR THE DISORDER:
Spiegel - states that "The general structure of these therapies
involves controlled access to various dissociated states, often
facilitated by techniques such as hypnosis, in the service of
integrating disparate identities or personalitiy states. Memories of
childhood sexual abuse and trauma are thought of as important
obstacles to integration of dissociated identities, and therefore the
working through of such traumatic memories is usually considered an
important part of such psychotherapy. The idea is that the
dissociation continues to serve a defensive purpose, protecting
against the painful affect associated with an abuse history. Thus,
working through such memories facilitates acceptance of the history
and therefore the identities and personality states identified with
McHugh - states that "Medical and psychiatric attention, however,
once turned away from the features of the artifact and toward the
patient's actual difficulties -- sometimes related to contemporary
adjustment problems, sometimes related to longstanding interpersonal
conflicts -- helps the patient to abandon the artifactual symptoms
without any confrontation over them and to participate in effective
psychotherapy ...Ultimately, after progress has been made on the
issues that were overshadowed by the artifactual symptoms, these
symptoms can be gently confronted and given meaning in relation to the
understanding that has emerged in psychotherapy."
Editor's Note: To a consumer of mental health, this article contains
a stunning statement. David Spiegel noted that, "There have been no
randomized trials of treatment for DID; thus, the outcome literature
consists of case reports and case series." MPD has been in the DSM
since 1980. How can it be that in 15 years whole hospital units have
been built, vast amounts of insurance money have been spent, a whole
literature has been created, a heated debate has raged -- and there
have been no proper studies! Is it any wonder that consumers think
that there is need for legislation to ensure that therapy is safe and
A 50-YEAR PROSPECTIVE STUDY OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL SEQUELAE
OF WORLD WAR II COMBAT
Lee, Vaillant, Torrey, and Elder
American Journal of Psychiatry 152:4, April 1995, 516-522.
At the time of World War II, veterans who showed signs of stress
were diagnosed as having combat fatigue. During the Vietnam war, that
concept was refined and the diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) came into being.
Most studies of PTSD have had the limitation that they are
retrospective and that cause and effect may therefore be confused.
This study is part of an ongoing 50-year prospective examination of
Harvard graduates originally selected in the 1940s for their potential
for success. The study offers the opportunity to separate the trauma
of heavy combat with other possible factors that might cause PTSD. It
reduces confounding variables such as antisocial personality,
childhood abuse, and social disadvantage. In addition, the information
was collected without the possible confounding effects of dealing with
a special population that was seeking psychiatric help or possibly
getting secondary gain due to disability claims.
The results showed that symptoms during combat stress but not during
civilian stress predicted symptoms of PTSD in both 1946 and 1988. The
study concluded that combat exposure predicted symptoms of PTSD but
combat exposure did not predict other nonspecific measures of
The authors note that "The present study lends support to the
importance of distinguishing posttraumatic dissociative disorders from
most anxiety disorders... neither psychodynamic nor conventional
learning theories are equipped to account for long-lasting human
response to extreme trauma. Such memories can become vividly and
intrusively imprinted and may persist undiminished for decades." The
authors note that studies of children who have experienced "chaotic
childhoods usually confound coexisisting genetic or developmental risk
with discrete traumatic events." The severity of the trauma is the
best predictor of who is likely to develop PTSD but the distress of
PTSD symptoms does not necessarily produce disability.
WARRIORS IN WAITING;
THEY'VE SURVIVED SUMMER, THESE FEW WHO LIVE TO FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT.
Washington Post September 1, 1995
In an article that profiles five committed activists, FMSF
leadership is included with Ralph Nader and others who are working to
'right a wrong.'
THE MIRROR CRACKED
City Pages, August 23, 1995
In-depth profiles of the people in the recent Humenansky trial in
which a retractor was awarded $ 2.5 million.
Permission requested order #103 [$4.00]
REPRESSED MEMORY CAN BE A CONCEPT BOUND IN DECEPTION
Pitch Weekly (Kansas City), September 6, 1995
A feminist gives a thorough critique to the repressed memory
controversy by letting people speak for themselves. "From what I've
been told, I will be in therapy for the rest of my life," stated
Sharon, a survivor, whose life became a series of flashbacks and
nightmares after she began to get memories. Unable to work, she lost
her interior design business. Sharon noted, "It is so hard if someone
hasn't had repressed memories, to understand. I just can't believe
anyone would choose this if it weren't true." Sharon's experience
provides a dramatic example for the comment of a professional, "The
patient is not empowered. In fact, the patient is disempowered,
regressed, weakened and encouraged to be dependent on the
therapist. They are teaching them how to be victims."
From this article we learn that a group called Metropolitan
Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) ran a notice in its
September 1993 newsletter proposing the formation of a support group
for therapists who are survivors of ritual abuse.
The article concludes with a comment by a retractor: "I'd had
memories every day, but after I left therapy, I didn't have any
memories. My head got clearer every day I was gone from my therapist."
This retractor said that with another therapist she is now getting the
help she needs.
This article is available from FMSF - order # 112 [ $2.00]
JUSTICE DELAYED, JUSTICE DENIED
The Dayton Voice, June 14-20, 1995
Mary Jenny Wilcox and Robert Dale Aldridge have been in jail for 10
years. The witnesses have recanted their testimony and police records
indicate that coercive tactics were used in the interviews. The
reports of the police officer in Huber Heights, Ohio who interviewed
the alleged victims demonstrate that she threatened the children with
incarceration and rape charges if they didn't implicate adults. In
her own words, this is the officer's description of her interview:
"...He changed his mind and he stated that he really didn't know
what happened over there, that he wasn't sure what apartment it
happened in, etc. I started explaining to John once again that if he
didn't come clean with me and was honest, he was going to be detained
at juvenile detention center. I also advised him that it was a very
serious situation that we had, that he was withholding information and
that I needed it. John still continued to change his story around.
Finally I advised him that I was going to have him detained at the
juvenile detention center and if at any point in time he changed his
mind and wanted to cooperate with me then he should get in touch with
There was no medical or other evidence of abuse presented at the
trial. Only the testimony of children interviewed as above. No new
hearings or trials have been held for Jenny Wilcox or Robert Dale
TUNING IN TROUBLE: TALK TV'S DESTRUCTIVE IMPACT ON MENTAL HEALTH
by Jeanne Albronda Heaton and Nona Leigh Wilson
Targeted for professionals who have ignored the influence of the
daytime "talks" on popular thinking about mental health issues, this
book is easily accessible to the general public. For readers of this
Newsletter, perhaps the most interesting part of the book is that it
documents the presentation of Multiple Personality Disorder on these
programs. ".....These shows were all very dramatic and entertaining,
but from a mental health perspective also quite disturbing and
dangerous...It is interesting to note how these shows work to create
interest in a disorder, present it as an exciting eccentricity, and
then tell viewers that anyone could have it. The subtle mockery of
mental health problems is a serious concern..."
| Before Therapy |
| "Dear Mom and Dad, |
| I want you to know how much it means to me that you have made it |
| possible for me to have this house and all the help you've been to |
| me fixing it up is something I'll never forget. I am so lucky to |
| have had you beside me this last couple of years. I really don't |
| know what I would have done without you. I love you very much and |
| am so lucky to have such wonderful parents. Thank you for |
| everything. |
| Your daughter" |
| After Therapy |
| "Dear Mom and Dad, |
| I love and respect you but it can't erase the hurt and pain I |
| endured as a child. I cannot be around you without going into the |
| depth of depression. The lies and secrets must end. I feel |
| betrayed. Everything you do for me feels like a lie. |
| If you want to help me heal, the secret must end. I need to hear |
| "yes" it happened. I want Daddy to cry and admit the secret. I |
| want Mom to say "I failed you. I didn't protect you." |
| I am not crazy. This happened. I was sexually abused by my |
| father for years. My mother failed to see the abuse and allowed it |
| to happen. The burden is too much so let's speak the truth. We |
| don't need to fix a divorced, poor, sick daughter. We need to fix |
| a 36 year old woman carrying scars from her childhood. The abuse |
| has affected my life in every way. |
| If you cannot help me, then please leave me alone. |
| Your daughter" |
SEPTEMBER RUMOR ABOUT FMSF
"The president of the FMSF is a convicted pedophile."
Editor's Comment: It's been downhill in the rumor field since we
were accused of casting spells on people who came to the office.
FMSF does not have a president and no one on the staff or the
leadership has a criminal record. Rumors such as this one are used
as an excuse by people who are unable to respond to the issues we
| "My mother says that she never hears anything about false memories |
| on Sally Jessie anymore so she said that she thought there were |
| no more problems with it. She thought that the problem no longer |
| exists." |
| Phone message to FMSF |
REPRESSED MEMORIES IN THE MEDIA
"...the screenplay takes a whack at pop psychology, spinning a subplot
about Batman's effort to dredge up repressed memories of his unhappy
childhood..."(Christian Science Monitor, June 16, 1995).
"It may be just a coincidence that there's a reference on "The Larry
Sanders Show" to a patient in therapy uncovering a repressed memory of
childhood molestation by an uncle. That happens to be the theme of
tonight's season opener for "Dream On." (Los Angeles Times, July 19,
"I'm in repressed memory therapy. I'll get something on you yet." -
given as a warning. (New York Times, June 12, 1995, Review of
A First- We have now spotted "false memories" used in a commercial.
An advertisement in MacUser (Oct) for Power Computing, a Macintosh
clone, shows a computer sitting on a couch with a bearded person who
resembls a popular image of a therapist is nearby. The "patient
profile" appears in a box and includes the statement, "Has no evidence
of false memory..."
| "The history of our race, and individual experience, evidences |
| that truth is not hard to kill, and that a lie well told is |
| immortal." |
| Mark Twain |
| _Mark Twain Himself! Humor, War and Fundamentalism_, Vol II |
"MEMORY AND ABUSE: REMEMBERING AND HEALING THE EFFECTS OF TRAUMA"
Charles Whitfield, M.D.
Reviewer: John Hochman, M.D.
These are troubling times for psychotherapists who continue to
advocate memory recovery as a primary treatment modality. Once many
of these therapists saw themselves as a vanguard not only of mental
health treatment, but also of social reform, whose methods and message
would be welcomed by a grateful populace. However, their trusted
reference books are now under increasing challenge from academicians
and clinicians, their leaders are now roundly rebutted in media
coverage, and a few of their colleagues are targets of frightening
For better or worse, the False Memory Syndrome Foundation has been
the principal catalyst leading to this changed climate. Those who,
like myself, view memory-recovery therapy as a harmful pseudoscience
and as a mental health danger, would like to see the pseudoscience
disappear. However, this would be a jolt for those who have led the
memory-recovery movement, those who have emphasized these methods in
their therapy practices, and (of course) many thousands of patients
who are suffering from the false memory syndrome.
The memory-recovery therapists do not have truth on their side, so
in order to maintain their world, they have the option of the
1) Demonize the opposition
2) Keep yelling the same message, but louder
3) Misrepresent the evidence that shows they are wrong
4) Play word games to confuse the situation
5) Mystify the issues
Dr. Charles Whitfield has done all this admirably in his new book,
_Memory and Abuse: Remembering and Healing the Effects of Trauma_
Dr. Whitfield is a physician who through his interest in treating
alcoholics and drug addicts, found his way into the "recovery
movement," and he has written in recent years on the concepts of
codependency and "the inner child." It is a tribute to the
contributions of Dr. Pamela Freyd, the Executive Director of the FMS
Foundation, that the bulk of the book's opening chapter is an
egregious personal attack on the character and emotional capabilities
of Dr. Freyd and her husband. Like many reading this review, the
Freyds are accused parents, and are tragically estranged from their
daughter. So Dr. Whitfield resorts to the technique of sleazology
(sleaze with footnotes) to show that the Freyds are indeed the kind of
creeps that would abuse their daughter -- and maybe your daughter too.
Dr. Whitfield has, in fact, a deeper purpose -- to demonstrate that
the Freyd family was dysfunctional. But the Freyds have some cause for
cheer, because Dr. Whitfield thinks that most families in America are
dysfunctional. His argument runs deeper, since he sees the society as
being dysfunctional as well. And this is the answer for the problem
Dr. Whitfield is facing: "Why the "backlash?" Why is memory recovery
therapy under attack? Quite simply, in a country plagued with
dysfunctional families, it is no surprise that we have a dysfunctional
media and a dysfunctional court system. According to Dr. Whitfield,
this is why the media and the courts are becoming increasingly
critical of memory-recovery therapy.
Quite simply, Dr. Whitfield does not have to be plagued by anxieties
that his theories might be wrong. Those who disagree with him are
simply under the influence of the dark world of the dysfunction, i.e.,
they are sick. And moreover, those who disagree are part of a
Dr. Whitfield has to do something more substantial with Drs.
Richard Ofshe and Elizabeth Loftus, both FMSF Scientific Advisory
Board members, since sleazy material about them seems to be more
difficult to obtain. He tries to dismiss them because they are
university professors and not "clinicians" or "trauma psychologists."
But what about someone like Paul McHugh, a psychiatrist who is a
clinician? Well, he seems to be the wrong kind of clinician, since
most psychiatrists and psychologists don't understand trauma.
Here we see the problem of word games. Dr. Whitfield works under the
assumption that most American families are dysfunctional, and since
families like this wind up abusing their children in some way, shape,
or form, their children are victims of trauma, and may be suffering
from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
If you think that most people have been seriously traumatized simply
by virtue of having parents, then Dr. Whitfield is your man. I
personally think this is a silly notion, since the current working
definitions of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder accepted by mainline
mental health people is that trauma victims are plagued by recurrent
memories and "flashbacks" of the trauma. And Dr. Whitfield has cause
to be unhappy with me since, by virtue of my being part of the
"backlash," I am subjecting trauma victims to "retraumatization."
One of the most successful word games in which memory recovery
therapists have engaged is to deem anyone outside of their belief
system as being "in denial." This handy phrase is used to explain away
parents who reject child-abuse accusations or those who maintain that
sexual abuse is not a problem for most children. Dr. Whitfield expands
this term so that he does not have to worry about what retractors are
saying about their experiences in therapy: they too are "in denial!"
Most of the book is extensive retelling of ideas propounded by
Judith Herman, Lenore Terr, etc., with some of the author's views on
Recovery thrown in. He cites over seven hundred references, and puts
little asterisks next to the ones that are supportive of the false
memory syndrome concept (about 7% of the total). He includes in the
appendix Michael Yapko's caveats on suggestibility, but explains in
another part of the book that he is simply using that appendix to
document the kind of wrongheaded thinking endemic to the FMS crowd.
If there are any bad psychotherapists out there, the author doesn't
talk about them. He does concede that there is a small percentage of
therapists who "may" be doing bad therapy because of their own
personal hang-ups. He suggests it may be negligent for a therapist to
separate patients from "their abuser" -- but not if the patient thinks
it is "appropriate" to do so. Thus, to paraphrase _Courage to Heal_,
if a therapist thinks he is doing the right thing, he probably is.
While the author has a crisp journalistic style, the editing was
poor or nonexistent. There are numerous large tables and charts that
give the book a very busy appearance; some of the charts defy easy
visual comprehension and are perhaps printed adaptations of slides
that the author uses in his lectures. There are several surrealistic
illustrations that hinted at the book's underlying mystical moorings.
After the book's relentless "take no prisoners" approach, I was
surprised to find that in the last chapter of the book, Dr. Whitfield
decides it is time to "choose Love." He urges trauma victims to
incorporate a spiritual approach in their recovery. While not
prescribing any particular spiritual path, he gives star billing to A
Course in Miracles, a word-of-mouth classic in the New Age movement
that has reportedly sold over a million copies.
I was left wondering what Dr. Whitfield meant in saying that the
Course was "written from a higher stage of our awareness." Perhaps he
believes the claims of the Course's primary author, a psychologist and
literature enthusiast, that in writing the book she was simply taking
dictation from an "inner Voice," which she came to believe belonged to
Jesus? Anyway, in spite of the Course's preoccupation with love and
Dr. Whitfield seems to be jockeying for the role of point man in
demolishing the critics of memory recovery therapy.
Dr. Hochman is a psychiatrist in private practice in Los Angeles.
He is a member of the FMSF Scientific Advisory Board.
| When the experts are agreed, the opposite opinion cannot be |
| held to be certain. |
| When they are not agreed, no opinion can be regarded as certain |
| by a non-expert. |
| When they all hold that no sufficient grounds for a positive |
| opinion exists, the ordinary man would do well to suspend judgment.|
| Bertrand Russel |
| Reprinted in HOW TO THINK ABOUT WEIRD THINGS: Critical Thinking |
| for a New Age, by Theodore Schick, Jr. & Lewis Vaughn Mayfield |
| Publishing Co. 1995 $18.95 with Forward by Martin Gardner, member |
| FMSF Advisory Board. |
"REPRESSED MEMORY THEORY FAILS KELLY-FRYE TEST IN CALIFORNIA"
_Son v Father_ Orange County Superior Court Case No VC016157
Defendant's attorney, Nancy Zeltzer, obtained a non-suit in a
repressed memory suit in California that may have precedent setting
potential. The plaintiff, now 27, had no memory of being sexually
molested and tortured by his father over 20 years earlier until the
alleged events were "retrieved" in early 1993, following therapy with
a Marriage and Family Certified Counselor (MFCC).
Ms. Zeltzer made a motion on behalf of the defendant, that a Rule
402 hearing be held pursuant to the authority of _Kelly-Frye_
[footnote] regarding the scientific validity of the repressed memory
theory and retrieval process. The court granted the motion and a
hearing began on the 6th of September with experts from the fields of
psychiatry, psychology and social psychology testifying on behalf of
Ms. Zeltzer formulated a description of the "mental mechanism" by
which children suffering serious repeated traumas seemingly cannot
remember those traumas but decades later they are somehow able to
recover accurate memories of those earlier, traumatic events. The
experts were asked whether there was any reliable and valid evidence
that such a mental mechanism exists. The inquiry asked whether or not
such a mental mechanism is falsifiable or testable and whether the
mental mechanism has been tested. The inquiry further focused on
whether the techniques or procedures used in connection with "memory
recovery" have received a general consensus of approval as valid and
reliable scientific techniques.
The court ruled that the plaintiff had not satisfied his burden as
required under the _Kelly-Frye_ test and labeled the repressed memory
theory and retrieval process as "junk science." The court further
ruled that no expert would be permitted to testify in support of said
theory nor would the plaintiff be permitted to testify in support of
said theory nor would the plaintiff himself be permitted to testify as
to any "memories" which were recalled subsequent to the initiation of
With no other evidence supporting the claim, Ms. Zeltzer moved for
non-suit which was granted. This case is believed to be the first
repressed memory case in California in which the court granted a
[Footnote: The admissibility of novel scientific evidence, that of
general acceptance within the relevant scientific community, was
originally established in the 1923 landmark federal case of _Frye
v. U.S._, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923) and adopted in California
in _People v. Kelly_, 17 Cal.3d 24, 549 P.2d 1240, 130 Cal.Rptr.
144 (1976). Hence the general acceptance rule in California is
called the "_Kelly-Frye_" rule (however, now that _Daubert v.
Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc_., 113 S.Ct. 2786 (1993) has
overruled _Frye_, the proper description of the California law is
simply the "_Kelly_" rule). In a 6 to 1 decision, the California
Supreme Court recently decided to retain the "_Kelly_," general
acceptance standard rather than replacing it with the _Daubert_
standard in _People v. Leahy_, 882 P.2d 321 (1994).]
"CONNECTICUT COURT UPHOLDS CONSTITUTIONALITY
OF STATE STATUTE OF REPOSE"
_Giordano v. Giordano_, 39 Conn. App. 183 (9/5/1995)
The Connecticut Appellate Court recently upheld the
constitutionality of a state law that gives victims of child sexual
abuse until their 35th birthday to sue their alleged attackers. In a
unanimous decision, the court wrote that the unique emotional damage
of childhood sexual assault justifies allowing victims longer to sue
than most other plaintiffs.
The Connecticut statute of limitations, in effect since 1991, allows
any person until their 35th birthday to sue for childhood sexual
abuse. Under this statute, a plaintiff need not claim repression and
subsequent discovery of the abuse. Connecticut's statute is therefore
called a "statute of repose" and does not involve a "discovery rule."
The 1991 law was challenged by a defendant who had been sued by two
of his grown grandchildren, each claiming that he had molested them 20
years ago. The appeal was made after a trial court granted a
prejudgment attachment of the defendant's real property. Defendant
appealed. Defendant argued that the Connecticut statute deprives him
of his constitutional rights to equal protection and due process. A
statute can be found unconstitutional under the Equal Protection
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment if it "denies to any person within
its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." All persons
similarly situated should be treated alike. A law which discriminates
against a class of citizens may be found unconstitutional if the
disparate treatment is not rationally related to a legitimate state
interest. Defendant argued that the equal protection clause was
violated by Connecticut's statute of repose because it unjustifiably
allows plaintiffs who claim they were sexually assaulted as children
longer to sue than is afforded other plaintiffs.
The court disagreed. Laws generally can withstand a constitutional
challenge if the apparently unequal treatment serves a legitimate
state interest. The Court ruled that Connecticut's law does just
that. In defining the state's interest, the court referred to
testimony presented to legislative committee in 1991: "It is clear
from the legislative history that the purpose of the 1991 amendment
was to allow victims to recall sexual abuse that had been repressed,
and to bring an action against the perpetrators of that abuse as part
of the victim's healing process." The extension of the statute of
limitations in Connecticut to seventeen years after the age of
majority was found reasonably related to the accomplishment of the
goals of both "deterring the sexual abuse of children and in providing
a means for the victims of childhood sexual abuse to recall the
traumatic events and understand them before seeking redress." The
Appellate Court also held that the statute of limitations does not
violate the constitutional right to procedural due process; the
selection of the 17 year time period was held to be neither arbitrary
nor capricious. Furthermore, the court noted that both the pretrial
hearing and the trial contained sufficient procedural safeguards to
ensure that the defendant's due process rights are not violated.
[Editor's comment: We note that this decision did not explore a
state's significant evidentiary interests in limiting claims which
cannot be reliably resolved because the lapse of time has resulted
in lost records or faded memories. In addition, the court did not
acknowledge the considerable problems which the unreliability of
repressed memory claims present to the courts. Instead, the court
referred to testimony presented to the 1991 legislature, the
premises of which have been widely challenged by recent findings in
the professional community.]
"SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT OF MAINE TO REVIEW A
REPRESSED MEMORY RELATED CLAIM AT THE REQUEST OF THE
FEDERAL COURT OF APPEALS"
_Nuccio v. Nuccio_, ___F.3d ___ (1st Cir. ME, Aug. 9, 1995)
The Supreme Judicial Court of Maine will decide whether the statute
of limitations is tolled during the period plaintiff allegedly
repressed memories of childhood abuse under the doctrine of equitable
estoppel. Equitable estoppel is a doctrine which prevents a party from
taking advantage of his own wrongful acts. Traditionally, the doctrine
is limited to situations where the plaintiff relied on a defendant's
statements or conduct after the initial wrongdoing to plaintiff's
detriment. As a result of this reliance the plaintiff was prevented
from either discovering the wrongdoing or suing because of it as she
would have done otherwise.
In the case currently before the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine, an
adult daughter claimed that her father repeatedly sexually abused her
from age 3 until 13. She claims that during the course of her
childhood, he threatened to kill her if she told of his abuse. To
reinforce his threat, he allegedly killed family pets and was
routinely violent towards her. To support her claims, Plaintiff
submitted an affidavit from a psychiatrist which stated that "the
threats...and the consequent conscious and unconscious fear, were
substantial contributing factors causing the traumatic amnesia which
both prevented her from remembering the sexual abuse and seeking a
remedy before the amnesia was removed." Plaintiff also states that she
repressed memories of her father's abuse until 1992 when she was 42
years old. Plaintiff argues that her father should not be allowed to
assert a statute of limitations defense if his actions were
responsible for her repression and resulting failure to file suit in a
A district court had granted summary judgment, finding the suit was
barred by Maine's statute of limitations. Plaintiff appealed to the
1st Circuit Court. Because the 1st Circuit was asked to decide a
question of Maine law for which there was no precedent, it certified
the question to the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine. The only issue
now before that state court is whether, assuming the truth of the
facts alleged, defendant should be equitably estopped from asserting
the statute of limitations as a defense. The First Circuit Court of
Appeals retains jurisdiction pending determination of the certified
Editor's comment: The FMSF Legal Project recently produced a working
paper (Section VIII, Equitable Estoppel) pertaining to application
of the equitable estoppel doctrine in child abuse claims.
"MICHIGAN SUPREME COURT LIMITS THE USE OF EXPERT
OPINION TESTIMONY IN CHILD ABUSE CASES"
_People v. Peterson_ and_ People v. Smith_
Docket Nos. 98941, 99981, Decided Aug. 22, 1995
The Michigan Supreme Court held that an expert testifying in a child
sexual abuse case may not testify that the sexual abuse occurred,
vouch for the veracity of a victim, or indicate whether the defendant
is guilty. "Testimony that the complainant's behaviors were consistent
with other child sexual abuse victims is no longer merely offering an
explanation; it is based on the expert's opinion, as an expert, that
the complainant's behavior matches the behavior exhibited by other
child sexual abuse victims."
In deciding the admissibility of expert opinion testimony, the Court
distinguished testimony that behaviors are "consistent with" abuse
from testimony that such behaviors are "not inconsistent" with abuse.
The court decided that "'consistent with" testimony should not be
allowed, regardless of when it is presented because it violates the
Davis/Frye test; its foundation is too unreliable as a detector of
sexual abuse." The court noted that the behavioral reactions often
associated with abuse may also be produced by other stressful, but
nonsexual, abuse causes. Therefore, the court concluded, behavioral
signs are not "sufficiently accurate, reliable, and standardized" for
use as a detector of sexual abuse. "Not inconsistent" testimony, on
the other hand, "merely states that it could be true" and may be used
as rebuttal testimony.
"WOMAN FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST PRAIRIE VIEW;
SUIT ALLEGES INSTITUTION PERFORMED EXORCISMS"
_Newton, Kansan_, September 14, 1995
Ron and Kathleen Knott filed suit, 9/1/95, in Harvey County District
Court against Prairie View, Inc., alleging that the Newton, Kansas
mental health institution performed four exorcisms on Mrs. Knott. She
and her husband seek damages in excess of $200,000, an injunction
against Prairie View preventing them from allowing the practice of
exorcism by their staff and the removal of the facility's
The petition states that Knott sought treatment at Prairie View in
1991 for an eating disorder and to help her "cope with past
recollections of child abuse." The petition alleges that Prairie View
doctors told her that her dreams were memories of past incidents of
satanic ritual abuse. She was later diagnosed with multiple
personality disorder. The exorcisms were allegedly performed at the
Center during 1992. No court dates have been set in the case.
"JURY AWARDS FORMER PATIENT $204,000
IN THE FIRST OF THREE SUITS AGAINST WISCONSIN PSYCHIATRIST"
On July 18, 1995, a jury found Wisconsin psychiatrist Kenneth Olson
guilty of negligence in the treatment of a former patient. The
plaintiff had claimed misdiagnosis of Multiple Personality Disorder
and inappropriate treatment of her condition by Dr. Olson. The jury
agreed and awarded the plaintiff $204,000 for pain and suffering and
for past wage loss. Dr. Olson was found 65% negligent and his former
patient 35% negligent which meant that her ultimate award was
$132,600. This is the first of three suits against Dr. Olson.
"REPRESSED MEMORY SUIT SETTLED TWO YEARS AFTER FILING"
Editor's comment: A review of recent outcomes of repressed memory
civil suits filed in the United States indicates that just over
two-thirds are resolved when the suit is dropped by the plaintiff,
dismissed by the court, or with a finding for the accused defendant.
Even the circumstances surrounding suits that are settled out of
court often demonstrate the questionable reliability of repressed
memory claims. The following is an excerpt from a description by a
Wisconsin defense attorney of a repressed memory case which was
resolved this month:
The plaintiff, in her 30's, originally sought counseling for family
problems. Apparently the scope of the counseling was broadened and
eventually she was diagnosed as having experienced pervasive and
devastating physical and sexual abuse during her childhood. No one was
able to say when during the childhood the abuse occurred, or what
happened, only that the father was accused of doing it.
The daughter's attorneys drafted a summons and complaint and sent it
to the father with a demand for settlement. The implication was that
if the matter could be settled before the suit was filed, there would
be no attendant publicity that would adversely affect the father or
the father's business.
The father vehemently denied being involved in improper behavior
with his daughter and refused to pay anything. The daughter's
attorneys responded by filing suit in state court in 1993. Because of
the unique facts of the case, the suit was moved into federal court.
In Federal court, it was felt, the longer time between the filing of
the action and the trial might increase the possibilities of
settlement or simple dismissal of the action. Trial was scheduled for
March, 1996. As the legal proceedings progressed with motions and
counter-motions and the attendant delays in the federal court system
the parties had incidental contact. The father (and mother) were able
to keep animosity out of the situation and continued to send Christmas
and birthday gifts to their grandchildren. Visitation of the
grandchildren was requested by the grandparents and it was allowed for
limited time periods.
Gradually, as time passed and incidental contact between the accused
father and the accusing daughter increased, they began to talk about
the suit. The father continued to deny the accusations, and the
daughter began to wonder about the accuracy of what she had been told
by her counselor. Eventually, the suit was settled under very
favorable terms to the father and under a confidentiality agreement as
to the suit's exact terms.
"MPD PLAINTIFFS AWARDED $4 MILLION
IN SUIT AGAINST ESTATE OF PSYCHIATRIST,"
_Slavik v. Estate of Routt_
Hennepin County District Court, MN
On August 20, 1995, the _Dallas Morning_ News reported on the trial
of two women who sued the estate of psychiatrist Dr. William Routt of
Fairview Riverside Medical Center in Minneapolis for malpractice and
sexual abuse. That article was reported in the FMSF Newsletter,
September, 1995, p. 10. Following Dr. Routt's suicide in 1991, the
plaintiffs Slavik and Wall, through other therapy, realized they had
been sexually abused by Dr. Routt and were also diagnosed with MPD
stemming from "repressed" memories of childhood sexual abuse.
Judge Dan Mabley instructed the jury to disregard testimony
involving memories the jury determined to have been recalled under
hypnosis. However, whether or not the "host" or "alter" personality
testifying was in a hypnotic state was a question of fact for the jury
to decide. Judge Mabley allowed testimony by seven of plaintiff
Slavik's twenty-four personalities and five of Wall's eighteen
personalities. Apparently, Slavik's personalities were summoned by her
attorney while Wall's personalities "came and went" during testimony.
Defendant's attorneys argued there was no malpractice and no
corroborating evidence for the abuse allegations. They further claim
that Slavik had made other allegations of sexual abuse which were also
unsubstantiated. The jury found that the plaintiffs were vulnerable
and Routt's conduct of abuse had inflicted emotional distress, battery
and sexual exploitation of the women. On September 13, 1995, the jury
returned a verdict in favor of plaintiffs and awarded Wall, who
formerly was a special-education teacher, $40,000 for lost wages,
$750,000 for emotional distress and $366,000 for medical expenses. It
put her future damages at $150,000 for lost earnings, $750,000 for
emotional distress and $265,000 for medical expenses. The jury awarded
Slavik, who formerly worked at a Dairy Queen owned by her husband,
$60,000 for lost wages, $750,000 for emotional distress and $264,000
for medical expenses. It set her future damages at $150,000 for lost
earnings, $750,000 for emotional distress and $250,000 in future
The all-female jury refused to discuss its verdict with the
press. An appeal is expected.
Editor's Note: The basis for Judge Dan Mabley's ruling allowing
testimony by the alter personalities is unclear. As there is little
or no case law regarding testimony by the alleged "victim" diagnosed
with MPD, he may have relied on, _State of Georgia v. Dorsey_, 206
Ga. App. 709, 426 S.E. 2d 224 (1992). In that case, the court
allowed admission of the alleged victim's testimony while in a
dissociative state, determining that hypnosis was voluntary while a
dissociative state is involuntary. Additional information will be
provided as more of the facts in this case become available.
Most often MPD testimony involves criminal defendants who allege
they were not in "control" of the personality which actually
committed the crime with the hope that a plea of "not guilty by
reason of insanity" may be obtained which would result in a
psychiatric hospital stay rather than a prison sentence. In the case
of an MPD defendant, a determination is made as to which personality
was in executive control of the physical body and whether or not it
has independent knowledge of the offense. Some courts may take a
"specific alter" approach and focus on which alter was in executive
control at the time of the offense and whether that "specific alter"
was legally insane at the time of the offense. Some argue that a
finding of insanity should be made if the host personality is not in
executive control or co-conscious at the time of the offense.
Courts facing claims involving MPD are asked to resolve issues
which are currently being debated in the scientific community. As
the number of both repressed memory of childhood sexual abuse and
MPD cases increase, it is clear that members of the legal profession
need to educate themselves regarding the medical and scientific
issues these claims present.
"PANEL UPHOLDS IMMUNITY FOR ABUSE REPORTS"
_The Daily Journal,_ October 21, 1995
_Stecks v. Young_, 95 Daily journal D.A.R. 12547
The 4th District Court of Appeals in San Diego has upheld a state
law that grants immunity to counselors who are required to report
suspicions of child abuse. The 29-year old purportedly schizophrenic
daughter of David and Nancy Stecks reportedly told a counselor,
Candace Young, that she had information that her young nephew was to
be sacrificed in a cult ritual attended by the boy's father. Young
gave this information to the county Child Protective Services. It was
subsequently read by medical practitioners and people within the
criminal justice system. The Stecks sued Young for infliction of
emotional distress. The suit was dismissed in San Diego County
The California, Legislature "recently narrowed the immunity from
absolute to limited for social workers who act with malice or an utter
disregard for the truth in removing children from their parents in
suspected abuse cases. However, no action was taken to limit the
immunity of those who are mandated to report suspected abuse."
"OVERTURNED CONVICTIONS SUGGEST CHANGES IN STANDARDS
FOR INVESTIGATING SEX ABUSE INVOLVING YOUNG CHILDREN."
During the last month, many press reports have discussed the
implications of what is called a trend of overturned convictions for
mass child molestation in day care centers. In one such case, a
Massachusetts state judge overturned the sexual-abuse convictions of
Violet Amirault, 71, and her 37-year-old daughter, Cheryl Amirault
LeFave, who had been imprisoned since 1987. On August 29, 1995,
Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Robert Barton ordered their release
after overturning their convictions for molestation of about 40
children at their day care center near Boston.
"One more hour, or even one more minute, in custody in this case
would be improper," Barton said at a bail hearing that followed his
ruling. Barton had ruled that the women's convictions should be
declared null and void and they deserved a new trial because their
child accusers, who were between ages 2 and 4, did not confront them
face to face in the first trial. The Amiraults' case had been
reexamined in light of a 1994 Supreme Judicial Court ruling stating
that defendants are entitled to confront their accusers in court.
It is unknown whether prosecutors will appeal this dismissal or
undertake another prosecution. Amirault's son, Gerald, has filed a
separate appeal against his conviction and is not covered by the
This decision (similar to the 1993 overturned conviction of Margaret
Kelly Michaels, the reversal of Robert Kelly's 12 consecutive life
terms in North Carolina, the 1995 reversal of Donna Hubbard's
conviction in California, and the McMartin preschool case in
California which was dismissed in 1990) really hinged on the question
of whether impressionable children could be brought through repetitive
questioning to believe they were abused, even though most of them
initially repeatedly denied it. Recent studies have shown that very
young children, when subjected to persistent questioning, can describe
details of events that never occurred. Experts such as Dr. Stephen
Ceci, a Cornell psychologist, and Maggie Bruck of McGill University
recommend that investigators interview young children no more than a
handful of times and that the interviews be videotaped so juries can
draw their own conclusions about whether the child's story has been
(For the story of the Amirault case, see Good Housekeeping, Oct.
1995, "Unspeakable Acts", Dorothy Rabinowitz.)
Editor's Comment: We expect to see judicial decisions and
legislative actions in response to the issues raised by these
cases. These developments are reported in the updated FMSF
Publication #825, "Resources for Families Accused by Minor
Children." A recent decision by the Michigan Supreme Court
regarding the admissibility of expert opinion testimony is reported
in this newsletter.
"MANY KERN COUNTY (CALIFORNIA) MOLESTATION" CONVICTIONS OVERTURNED
_Fresno Bee_, 8/30/95
On August 7, 1995 the 5th District Court of Appeal in California
overturned the conviction of Donna Hubbard. She was one of 37 people
convicted in the early and mid-1980s as Kern County prosecuted eight
"rings" of child molesters. Since that time, 14 of the 26 people found
guilty have had their convictions overturned.
Hubbard and two men were convicted in 1985 of the molest of
Hubbard's 9-year-old son and two other boys. She was sentenced to 100
years. Hubbard's son later recanted much of his testimony.
In its 470 page opinion, the Appeals Court was sharply critical of
the Kern County investigators' interview methods. The court noted that
investigators repeatedly used leading questions and conducted numerous
interviews with the children. The court said that there was
"substantial likelihood" that Hubbard's conviction was based on false
"MARGARET KELLY MICHAELS WANTS HER INNOCENCE BACK"
Nancy Haas,_New York Times Sunday Magazine,_ 9/10/95
In 1993, a New Jersey Appellate Court overturned the conviction of
Margaret Kelly Michaels. In 1987, after a 10-month trial, Michaels was
found guilty of 114 of an alleged 131 counts of assault, sexual abuse
and terroristic threats against 20 children. She was sentenced to 47
years and spent five years in prison, including 15 months in solitary
confinement. The New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the reversal,
writing that the case was riddled with "egregious prosecutorial
abuses." All 20 children involved, the court concluded, had been led,
bribed or threatened. Not one had related incidents of sexual abuse
using free recall.There are eight civil suits pending against Michaels
and the day-care center's insurance carrier brought by parents of the
accusing children. Michaels plans to file a $10 million Federal suit
against the county, the state and other individuals involved in her
prosecution, charging that they maliciously invented crimes that never
occurred and manipulated children's testimony that might have cleared
| "All I want is for the state to say it was a mistake. If they |
| offered me a buck and an apology, I'd go away." |
| Kelly Michaels, Sept 10, 1995 |
| _New York Times Magazine_ |
"NORTH CAROLINA HIGH COURT
BACKS NEW TRIALS IN LITTLE RASCALS CASE"
Peters & Parks, _The Virginian-Pilot,_ 9/8/95
The North Carolina Supreme Court rejected prosecution requests to
review an Appeals Court ruling that overturned the convictions and
life sentences of Robert Kelly and Kathryn Wilson and granted them new
trials. The court ruled that North Carolina prosecutors must retry
them or set them free. At the time of this writing the District
Attorney has not announced what action will be taken. Day care co-
owner Robert Kelly and six others were charged with more than 400
counts of sexually abusing more than 30 youngsters. The 1992-1993
trials have been labeled the most expensive and longest in North
"AN APPEAL TO JUSTICE"
_Los Angeles Times_, August 16, 1995, by Lynn Smith
Legal experts agree the issue is a matter that goes to the heart of
the American justice system. "The Sixth Amendment guarantees two
things: face-to-face confrontation and cross- examination," said John
Myers, professor of law at the University of the Pacific in Stockton
in comments about the overturning of the Amirault conviction.
| The writer" also confuses being a doctor and being a policewoman. |
| Even if she is occasionally right about false memory -- and it |
| does happen -- who cares whether the 'reality' of the patient is |
| not the absolute truth?" |
| Dr. Ghislain Devroede |
| Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke |
| _Humane Medicine _11:3 Aug 1995 (p. 127) |
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
This is a column that will let you know what people are doing to
counteract the harm done by FMS. Remember that three and a half years
ago, FMSF didn't exist. A group of 50 or so people found each other
and today more than 17,000 have reported similar experiences. Together
we have made a difference. How did this happen?
CALIFORNIA - I have been checking local libraries and churches for
booklets and information. Last week, I found one church that had a
booklet that was encouraging people to think they might have recovered
memories. I am planning to contact the administration of that church
and provide them with educational information.
FLORIDA - Our families have succeeded in contacting the local "Crisis
Hot Line" which will include FMS information in the future.
A suggestion: Each person should have a mailing list of 20 to 25
people in his or her sphere of influence. This list might include
legislators, local television personalities, mental health leaders, or
educators. Write to these people regularly, perhaps once a month, but
don't expect an answer. Keep your letters very brief and enclose a
short current article.
INDIANA - I never leave home without a packet of FMSF information.
Last Sunday was "bring a friend" day at my church. Someone brought an
important Congressman! I was able to talk to him for a while about
FMS. He and his wife were very pleasant and both seemed interested and
said they would read the information.
I teach CPR classes 3-4 times a month. As I finish my lecture, I
will stand there and hold and cuddle the infant mannequin and tell how
my husband and I were not allowed to see our new granddaughter for
almost a year - all because we were accused of crimes that never
happened. I then take a few minutes and talk about FMS.
Contact your local Senior Citizen Services and see if you can give a
program or talk on FMS. Write or send an article about FMS to any
local Senior Citizen papers or magazines in your area. Senior citizens
need to be informed about FMS should it ever hit their family.
Every group of FMS families can do this. Tear out the book order
forms that are in magazines or that come in the mail. Send them in and
tell the Book Clubs that you would like to see _Victim's of Memory,
Making Monsters, The Myth of Repressed Memory_ and all the other FMS
books on their list of available books. Make a difference.
MINNESOTA - I am not an accused person but I have been very upset by
the unscientific approach and the social message conveyed in _Courage
to Heal_. I sent material about this to the Hazelton Foundation and
explained how that book did not support either their philosophy or
practice. Last week I received a letter from them informing me that
Hazelton will cease to distribute this book and that they are removing
it from their campus book store.
You can make a difference. Please send me any ideas that you have
had that were or might be successful so that we can tell others.
Write to Katie Spanuello c/o FMSF.
| Letter to a Parent |
| Thank you for your letters and the sheet concerning "False |
| Memory Syndrome." It was a pleasure to meet you and talk with you |
| and I appreciate your willingness to speak out in this field, and |
| your offer to come to my class. |
| I would like to have you come to talk with my students in |
| November, just after my discussion of treatment and prevention of |
| sexual abuse. There are 75 enrolled, mostly Psychology, Sociology, |
| and Child Development majors. All are juniors. |
| This is a very important topic. I believe you can present the |
| case very well and address some very important issues. |
| Professor and Head of the Department |
MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO THE FMSF BUSINESS OFFICE
Whenever you send us a check, money order, or a credit card charge,
please, PLEASE tell us what the money is for. Is it to renew your
membership dues? Is it for the purchase of an article? Is it a
Always be sure to include:
and if the payment is by Visa or MasterCard.
What is your card number?
What is the card's expiration date?
How much do you want us to charge your card?
If you give someone a gift subscription or membership, please note
that we will send the gift recipient a letter informing them of the
gift and who gave it to them.
We must have your address change notice one month before you
move. Newsletter labels are printed at the beginning of each month,
and we must have your address change notice before then if we are to
mail your newsletter to the correct address.
Whenever you send us your new address, be sure to also include your
These tips will help minimize confusion and assure the speedy
processing of your orders, memberships, and donations.
| "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men |
| to do nothing." |
| Edmund Burke |
FROM OUR READERS
When I called FMSF, it was because in the course of speaking about
rape attempts that I have never forgotten (I had to repeatedly fight
off my brother-in-law when I was 12 - 13 years old) the therapist (a
so-called "peer counselor") insisted that I had been raped at a much
younger age by my father! This is especially interesting in connection
to your June 95 newsletter's comment about the peculiar father-
centered statistics, isn't it? The actual occasion of the counselor's
statement was during a casual conversation of the ways our personal
skills and predispositions affect us and I had told an anecdote about
how, when I was in about fourth grade, I saw a print of Dali's
"Persistence of Memory" (the dripping clocks) in a book and
immediately becaue nauseated. I then found that this happened every
time I looked at the picture, and I related it to other ways in which
I am visually hypersensitive.
The counselor's insistence that I accept her sudden and out-of-
context interpretation of this image-nausea link was disturbing to
me. The fact that I was concerned with a separate, real, unsuppressed
trauma was thoroughly disregarded in this new, and frankly unwelcome,
crusade. My refusal to go along cost me support in the real issues. I
continue to suffer from the very real symptoms of post-traumatic
stress, the nightmares, the "triggers" that interfere with daily life,
etc. None of this has anything to do with my father, who was a normal
human being with normal strengths and weaknesses regarding his
My daughter was thirty years old, had been married for six years and
was overweight and depressed. She consulted a psychotherapist. The
next thing I knew, our family was in turmoil.
We couldn't understand. Our family had had its ups and downs, but we
loved our children. We have a son and two daughters. This was the
middle child. We all offered to help in any way we could and suggested
we all go to therapy. This was rejected. She wasn't ready. This is
when we learned the words "dysfunctional," "codependency," and
After some time, her brother was invited to join her in therapy. He
went willingly but my daughter didn't like what he had to say. He was
dismissed as being too much like his father.
At first my younger daughter couldn't understand her older sister's
behavior, but with time she was also convinced that she was an abused
child. These were children who attended private school, enjoyed a
country club life style and had most of the good things in life.
After 18 months, my husband was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
Our daughter did come to see him while he was ill but things were not
the same. He died in six weeks. I had lost my husband and two
A little over a year after my husband's death, I got a call from my
daughter asking me to meet her at her therapist's office. I went
elated, thinking this was a chance for reconciliation. You can
imagine my shock and horror, when I was confronted by my son-in-law,
my daughter and her therapist and was told her father had sexually
molested her when she was a child. I was supposed to have seen the
signs. I was not allowed to ask any questions such as "when" or "how"
this was supposed to have happened. I was told that would be
victimizing the victim. I was told I was in denial. I was told I did
not protect my child. Those were the therapist's words. Of course none
of this is true.
Since the summer of 1992 my daughters have not been in touch with
me. It is all so sad, so many years going by. How can these therapists
get away with family destruction?
| FREE LIBRARY DISPLAYS are now available through SIRS Publishers. |
| Call 1-800-232-7477. This is an attractive and positive way to |
| inform people about the many new books that are now available |
| about false memories and the devastating effects this is having on |
| families. |
"GETTING ON WITH LIFE"
We have ceased letting thoughts of our accusing daughters be an
obsession with us. We no longer want addresses or telephone
numbers. We will always love them and will welcome them back with
unconditional love. But they no longer control our lives.
"HOW WE HAVE COPED"
On January 3, 1993, we received the nasty letter from our daughter,
like those that so many others have received, cutting us off from all
contact with her or her children. At the same time, our older daughter
ended up a long phone conversation with the request that we cease
communications with her.
The added tragedy for us is that the younger one (age 46) died,
seven months later, without its ever having been resolved. Her heart
attack was the result of an overworked, enlarged heart, but since it
happened just seven days after my (her Mom's) birthday, we believe the
stress of not calling or communicating after having been so loving a
daughter all those years added to her torment.
The only way my husband and I have been able to cope with this
upheaval in our lives has been to realize that our daughters were sick
-- treating it as though they had a physical ailment that we have been
unable to help cure. Her father and I both have clear consciences. I
did not work outside the home and was there for the children totally.
We hope that our surviving daughter will come to her senses one of
these days. We are close to our son who is still in contact with his
sister. He says that he "walks on eggs" to keep from upsetting her
with any questions.
During the first few months after the original accusation, I
suffered from health problems. After my daughter died, I often cried
myself to sleep saying "she died hating me." My anger is concentrated
on her therapist, although we don't even know who he is.
We decided to go on with our lives and keep as busy as we had always
been (our ages are 75 and 78). We miss our grandchildren and we miss
our surviving daughter. Even though we know that it will never be the
same, we are optimistic that our daughter will come to her senses and
that we can reconcile someday. That is the best we can do for now.
The best healer has been time, now 3 1/2 years. Initially, I read
everything I could find on the subject, including professional
articles and that unspeakable book and workbook our daughter read with
a friend her senior year in high school. I also sought direction from
a psychiatrist the family had seen several years previous. Pursuit of
knowledge and professional assistance offered a little relief of pain,
but only a little.
I kept looking for "Why?" I thought that our daughter desperately
needs to be totally separated from her father and from me. There must
be no possibility of any of us crossing this chasm of rage and
retaliation. But trying to put myself in her shoes I thought of all
our personalities and interactions over the years. Who has power? How
is it expressed? How is it perceived? Was there room for everyone to
learn, to grow in his/her uniqueness. I think in her perception, for
reasons I may never understand, there was not. The only way she felt
in the very core of herself that she could develop into her own person
was to get totally and completely apart from us. I often wonder if any
other parent conceptualized the situation in that way. When our
daughter was growing up, she appeared to me to be more emotionally
dependent on her dad and me than other children were on their parents.
The outsiders she was drawn to were other adults, not other children.
Committing myself again and again and again to letting her go,
convincing myself that it is in her best interest has helped. And
accepting the fact that there is absolutely nothing I can do has
finally been of help.
Our daughter has succeeded in building a new life with new people in
a new place. She has been successful. We did everything we could when
we had the opportunity. The only remaining parental responsibility is
to keep on letting go.
"TO MY SISTER:"
It's been 8 months since our last conversation. It took me a while,
but I now know why you called. It was to eliminate me from your life
so you could bring a lawsuit against my parents. Since you had begun
therapy, I really tried to stay in a neutral position but on that
night, I was lured into choosing a side. I say "my" parents because
you have abandoned any bond that you had with them. You replaced them
with "New Age" therapy and your family of choice. Not even
brainwashing would make me withhold love or care from the people that
nurtured me from an infant. But that's me, not you.
It would have been so easy for them to ignore their responsibilities
for all of their children, but instead they worked two jobs so they
could afford to provide all of us with a Catholic education. They
surrounded us with loving relatives and took us places many children
had no opportunity to experience. We were lucky.
Yes, everyone has some bad memories from childhood; they serve no
purpose but to raise havoc. Approach it from another way of thinking.
How much influence have the good memories had on your life? Too bad
your therapy couldn't have brought up good memories. All the rest of
us, your brothers and sisters, still have the joy of creating good
memories of our family together.
My mother used FMSF material as to what to do. However it now seems
like abuse did happen with an uncle. Our family talked about it and
now all relationships are good. The daughter always knew the abuse
happened. Now she feels better. We thank the FMS Foundation.
As an Australian psychiatrist, I have been delighted to join the FMS
Foundation and receive your newsletter. I thought you would be
interested to hear what is happening in Australia with regard to FMS.
Until recently, it was held that FMS was largely an American
phenomenon and that our sensible, empirical approach would prevent any
such problems. Well, think again. Last year in Western Australia, a
man was charged with 27 offenses of sexual abuse of two of his
daughters, based on their "recovered" memories which occured in
therapy. The jury found him innocent on most of the charges and was
hung on the rest. The prosecutor later announced that he would not be
Despite the widely expressed hope that repressed memories would not
be accepted by the Australian court system, there are now reports of
several cases in my home state, New South Wales, based on repressed
memory therapy. Some of those convicted on nothing more than
"recovered memories," are now planning appeals based on the FMS
The issue is now very much out in the open and there has been
extensive media coverage. This has at least led to better public
understanding but allowed the usual cliche of proselytising therapists
to express their belief in repressed memory therapy, to say nothing of
MPD or satanic ritual abuse.
By way of example, in Wollongong, the town where I live and work, I
have seen several cases of FMS. A self-proclaimed therapist, who
apparently has no qualifications, lives in a house with something like
5 women, whom she claims need her there to protect them from their
various personalities. After an interview in the local paper and radio
station, I received several anonymous letters of abuse. All were
strikingly similar in that they used the tendentious cliches so
typical of the book "Courage to Heal".
On the positive side, the Australian psychiatric and psychological
associations are planning position statements which are likely to be
critical of FMS and recovered memory.
Dr. Robert Kaplan,
| We spent the first months of reconciling by avoiding the subject |
| because of the fragility of emotion that it brought forth, but I |
| believe that now is the time to bring it all to the surface and |
| make amends. |
| A Retractor |
Dear Dad and Mom,
This is a letter of love, a request for forgiveness and a sincere,
heartfelt apology for what you and the rest of the family have gone
through due to my support of my sister's beliefs and my gullible
susceptibility to the persuasion of a number of therapists. This has
caused a tragic breach of trust within the family that I am praying
will be restored with God's grace and mercy.
The "memories" first occurred after about a month of receiving calls
from my sister that truthfully were quite frightening. I then received
some medical papers from her that explained dissociative disorder and
MPD as well as statements that this is usually a result of severe
abuse and often is SRA related. These were given to her by her
therapist so that she would understand her disorder and why she had
the problems that she did. As a result of this information and
discussions with my sister about her diagnosis of MPD as a result of
SRA abuse, I gradually began to wonder what I didn't remember. I was
told that since she had MPD that I most likely was abused in the same
way but that I would have no memory of it because I "probably was
programmed by my abusers to split off into a separate personality if I
started to remember anything about my past." I was also told that once
this part of my personality took over, I would have no control over my
actions and would have no recall of where I was or what I had said. I
was also told that I was probably programmed to harm myself if any
memories of my childhood started to come back.
As you can imagine, this seemed entirely overwhelming to me, but I
found myself beginning to question everything about me and what I knew
to be true. What I had believed all my life about my family and my
upbringing was diagnosed as being an illusion. I was told that the
real truth was locked up inside me and that it would take an average
of 7 to 8 years of therapy to get the "memories" back and to be healed
and able to lead a somewhat normal life. I actually began to believe
(contrary to rational intelligence) that I was not capable of relying
on my own perceptions and actual memories of my life. I was told that
different personalities within me didn't know each other and could at
any time do things that I would never know about. This kind of talk
sounds so crazy that I personally feel shame for being so gullible to
believe this could be true in any way. I still can't understand how my
inclusion into this fiasco ever came about. I've always considered
myself to be a strong- willed intellectually capable woman who could
stand on her own two feet and discern what is true and what is false.
Well, I was susceptible, and because of this my whole world
It was only after I quit "therapy" and stopped talking to any other
"victims" that the brainwashing started to fade away. This process
took a year and a half before my life and the lives of my family, who
have been hurt, could even begin to be repaired. This is such a slow
process to endure. I sometimes wonder if it is like coming out of a
concentration or POW camp and walking back into the real world again.
The positive side is that it can happen and families can be
successfully restored. I hope that we can be a testimony to this for
others who have been damaged and estranged from family.
We spent the first months of reconciling by avoiding the subject
because of the fragility of emotion that it brought forth, but I
believe that now is the time to bring it all to the surface and make
Well, I had better not write a book. I love you and hope that we can
see each other soon before the kids' school starts again. I've started
a new job this past week and I am really enjoying it.
Your daughter for life!
After nearly 2 1/2 long years of little communication I received a
letter from my daughter that I would like to share with you.
Remember when I called you Friday and said I'm willing to be wrong?
Well. I've been very wrong about all this "incest" stuff and now I
really know this. I'm so sorry for all the pain and turmoil I've
Listening to you this past Friday, I realized that you do know me
and that you are a pretty wise woman! Also, that I have been self-
righteous, opinionated and scared. I am glad that you have shared
yourself with me, keeping your door open, patiently waiting for me to
wake up to reality. Well, I have woken up and there's a whole world
out there I've never seen before. Wow! "
My daughter had accused me, her mother. The drastic changes occurred
when she out of the blue proclaimed that she was an alcoholic and
became a recovery addict. I see her letter as a first step where she
wants to return to her family. There is no effort on her part to talk
about what happened and why, and it seems to me that she is not at
all aware of what she has done; it is like she cannot feel.
"PROGRESS, BUT SLOW"
Things are progressing, but slowly. Our daughter and I have been
talking on the telephone once a week. After one call of
misunderstanding, I told her that we needed some help. She agreed for
me to send information.. After she received it she said she felt we
were further along. We agreed to continue our talks.
She stated she did not believe all the things happened, but she is
defensive and won't use the word 'retracted.' But she did apologize
for hurting us.
She and her family were at our home for a few days in August. This
was her first visit since before all this happened. This was a much
needed step. She and her brother (whom she had also accused) met with
a counselor and both said it was a good visit.
When she left, she hugged me and said, "It's been a good visit." We
enjoyed the grandchildren so much.
She doesn't like to talk about FMSF (so we don't, but we know the
results it has accomplished!) She has said her family didn't care
about what she was going through. Her husband has called it a nervous
breakdown. But we know we did all she would let us -- and then some.
But time will heal, and love and support will help. And she will
We continue to pray for all the families that are still "hurting."
A Mom and Dad
"DID WE MAKE IT TOO EASY?"
I thought I would take a few minutes to update you on our situation
which has been evolving since the mediation ten months ago.
We have had two meetings at the therapist's office: my daughter, the
therapist and me. In addition, I have met with him alone on two other
occasions. All meetings have been progressively more friendly, open
and moving further away from false accusations. I believe this
therapist (who took over from the ones who had led her down the FMS
path) is aware of the truth. But he is not taking either side. There
has been a total avoidance of the alleged abuse in our three-way
meetings. My point is that he is actually making her better, for which
I am deeply grateful.
The big news is that she has "come home." At our meeting last month,
she promised to mail pictures of my 5-year old grandson. A week or so
ago, she called me for the first time in over three years. She said it
would be hard to mail all the pictures and she just said, "Dad, can I
come by your house?"
A few nights ago, she and my grandson came to our home where she
grew up. We never talked about what had happened to us these last
three years. In fact, sitting there talking to her, is was just as
though the last three years had never happened at all. She was again
the person I've known and loved so much all these years. We did not
hug or touch. Nevertheless, we jumped with joy over this latest turn
of events. We do still fear setback and we are certainly not thinking
it's all over, not by a long shot. We know that all the damage that
was done has not been undone.
When we have heard similar accounts in the past, our reaction has
been that we could never just act like nothing happened and take her
back without an express resolution of the matter. Yet, when faced with
the actual presence of our daughter we were so grateful to see her,
talk to her, have her at home, that it seemed enough. I can honestly
say that I have no need to punish her or demand an abject apology. I
do hope that she will acknowledge error and take some responsibility
for what she had done. Some recognition of the fact that she was never
abused by me still seems to me a prerequisite to a complete
reconciliation. I am willing to wait, as long as we are making real
In a way, we are troubled by the idea that by making it too easy for
her to just come back, we are doing precisely what we did that
contributed heavily to her susceptibility to this awful syndrome:
protecting her from reality, bailing her out, not insisting she take
responsibility for her own life. She is 32 years old, college educated
and a mother. But she needs to grow up. Have we made it too easy for
her not to have to develop maturity? As in the classic line, she needs
to get in touch with her inner adult. It's time. We have failed to
give her that, to make her face life squarely and realize she is not a
victim and to see that her life will be what she makes it. In that
sense, I think I have loved her too much and overprotected her. Is
this some more of the same? We are troubled in the midst of our great
joy of seemingly having her back.
I share our experience in hopes that it may contribute to the
understanding of this phenomenon. Also, we would be interested in
hearing of the way other parents have handled this situation and with
Dad in Texas
"DO MY FEELINGS COUNT?"
Do my feelings count in all of this? For what it's worth I still
feel violated. I know I did not sexually abuse any of my children. So
what am I to do with my feelings since the accuser is not willing to
admit that he is wrong? All the time during a recent visit, the
accuser treated me as if nothing were wrong. It's OK, mom, I love you
and want a relationship... but I still think you did something to
me. What do I do with my feelings about this?
| REVISED BIBLIOGRAPHY |
| The Foundation has expanded, updated and annotated its |
| Bibliography, which includes collections of articles, |
| magazine/newspaper articles, journal articles, and legal material. |
| Articles are in a variety of areas including Dissociative |
| Disorders (MPD), Eating Disorders, False Memory Syndrome, |
| Forensic, Hypnosis, Satanic Ritual Abuse, etc. If you would like |
| to receive a copy of the Bibliography, please send us information |
| in the form below and (if you live in the US) include a self- |
| addressed stamped envelope. There is no charge for FMSF members; |
| non-members please include $1.00. |
| ____ Member - no charge, SASE enclosed |
| ____ Non-member -$1.00 & SASE enclosed |
"THEY ALL HUGGED ME!"
I am a 43-year-old retractor. At the present time, I am very lost
and confused. After six and a half years of therapy with an MSW in
Texas, I began to wake up to my true reality and come out of the fog I
had been living under. I originally went to this person for depression
after being in a treatment center in Tulsa, OK for an eating disorder.
When I first started seeing this therapist, I was sure I'd be safe
because he was also a minister and that was extremely important to
me. That proved to be a false sense of security.
I told my therapist that I knew I had been raped at the age of 15 by
a friend of my father's and that this had continued until age 19 when
I married. I also told him I remembered being sexually molested by an
uncle in my preteen and teen age years. I told him my father was an
alcoholic and I told him that I was the oldest of five children - four
girls and one boy. These things I knew. I knew my father was demanding
and that he could be physically or verbally abusive. I knew I had a
lot of resentment and anger toward him but I also had a great deal of
love at the same time.
When I started therapy, I was in a marriage that was having
problems. I was concerned about that. I was unhappy when I started
therapy but in just a short time I was living in pure hell. I went
from being a depressed person, but someone who could carry a 4.00 in
college to having a diagnosis of Clinical Depression, Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder and Multiple Personality Disorder and being in a state
where I could not take care of myself or anything else. During the
time I was a patient of this social worker, I was seen by three
different psychiatrists and hospitalized between 16 and 18 times. Each
hospitalization was from five to thirty days at four different
hospitals. Six of those times were for suicide attempts.
I was led to believe that I was physically, sexually, emotionally
and ritually abused by both my parents, a grandfather, several other
family members, doctors, pastors, police officers, family friends, and
almost anyone you can think of.
My marriage, which had been on shaky grounds, was destroyed after 23
years together. I put my family, my husband, children, parents and
siblings through pure hell. I was totally dependent on my therapist.
If I questioned my memories, I was told I was in "denial."
I think the stress reached its peak when my then 16-year-old
daughter started thinking of suicide and had to be hospitalized. In
February 1994, I began to doubt the memories. When I returned to my
parents' home after the divorce, I was certain the memories were not
true. I started to question my family in detail and read school and
medical records. None of these things agreed with what I had been told
The night before I left, I sat down with my parents and siblings,
nieces and nephews and my own children and told them that I did not
believe in the things I had been thinking for the past few years. I
asked each one of them separately to try to find it in their hearts to
forgive me and I told them I would understand if they couldn't, but I
prayed that they would.
To my surprise they all hugged me and told me they loved me and
welcomed me back. My father, who had never confronted me on any of
these accusations, stood up, held out his arms and told me, "Well it
is about time. I have missed my girl. I love you. Don't ever forget
that please." What joy I felt. I cried and said, "Daddy, I love you
and always will. Please forgive me. I am so sorry." He told me to
hush, that he did forgive me and that he had known that someday I'd
The next day, I went into town and told my now ex-husband what I had
told my family. He said it was about time I woke up and he hoped I
meant it. I never saw my therapist again.
Life has moved on. I stopped taking the medication I had been on for
6 1/2 years. I had to file for bankruptcy and that was especially
horrible because I had been able to deal with financial matters my
whole life. I felt another part of my life had been shot. But now I am
supporting myself, my daughter and my granddaughter. I am trying to
deal with everyday life and trying to decide what I want to do with
the rest of my life.
| Childhood is less clear to me than to many people: when it ended, |
| I turned my face away from it for no reason that I know about, |
| certainly without the usual reason of unhappy memories. For many |
| years that worried me, but then I discovered that the tales of |
| former children are seldom to be trusted. Some people supply too |
| many past victories or pleasures with which to comfort themselves, |
| and other people cling to pains, real and imagined, to excuse what |
| they have become. |
| Lillian Hellman |
| "Three" page 412 |
"THANK YOU FMSF"
In the April, 1993 newsletter, you printed my daughter's letter of
apology to me. This is an update of our story.
It's been two years since my daughter came back from FMS. Since
then, she's courageously dealing with her problems with life. She's
working and she's gotten married. This summer, as her father, I
dressed in a tux, walked her down the aisle, and gave her away in
marriage to a wonderful young man.
Other fathers have cried when they handed over their daughter to
this new person in her life, always wondering if she'll be happy, if
he'll treat her right, if she'll miss her Dad. Can he trust this new
person to look after her the way he did? Will she forget their bond of
lifelong love and closeness?
I felt all those things, but I also felt a tremendous surge of
thanks to God for returning my little girl, now a woman, to the world
of truth and light, so that I could walk her down that aisle.
To you and to the Foundation, I am eternally grateful for you being
the way, the road by which she returned to her family and to me.
| "Protection of children is an important priority in today's |
| society. But it should not annul the civil rights of adults, |
| including the right to due process and a fair trial." |
| _Christian Science Monitor_ (9/5/95) |
OCTOBER 1995 FMSF MEETINGS
FAMILIES, RETRACTORS & PROFESSIONALS WORKING TOGETHER
key: (MO) = monthly; (bi-MO) = bi-monthly
CALL PERSONS LISTED FOR INFO & REGISTRATION
PENNSYLVANIA, NEW JERSEY, DELAWARE, MARYLAND
Saturday, October 21, 9:30 am-4:00 pm
Sharaton Valley Forge (PA)
Jim & JoAnn 610-783-0396
or Lee & Sally 609-967-7812
INDIANA -Indianapolis area
Sunday, October 29, 1995, 1pm
Nickie 317- 471-0922(phone),334-9839(fax)
or Pat 219-482-2847
Saturday, November 4, 9:00 am-2:30 pm
Ft. Snelling Officers Club, St. Paul
Terry & Colette 507-642-3630
Dan & Joan 612-631-2247
Monday, November 6, 7:30 pm
Fair Haven Ministries, Hudsonville
Saturday, November 11, 9:30 am-3 pm
* Nat'l & State legislature updates
SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND AND NEW YORK
Sunday, November 12, 1:30 pm
Speaker: Pamela Freyd, Ph.D.
Barbara 914-761-3627 of Paul 203-458-9173
ARIZONA - (bi-MO) see State Meeting List
Barbara (602) 924-0975 fax- 854-0404
ARKANSAS - Little Rock
-Al & Lela (501) 363-4368
San Francisco & Bay Area (bi-MO)
EAST BAY AREA
Judy (510) 254-2605
SAN FRANCISCO & NORTH BAY
Gideon (415) 389-0254
Charles (415) 984-6626 (day); 435-9618 (eve)
SOUTH BAY AREA Last Saturday, (bi-MO)
Jack & Pat (408) 425-1430
Carole (805) 967-8058
BURBANK 4th Saturday (MO)10:00 am--
Jane & Mark (805) 947-4376--
CENTRAL ORANGE COUNTY
Chris & Alan (714) 733-2925
1st Friday (MO) - 7:00 pm
Jerry & Eileen (714) 494-9704
3rd Sunday (MO) - 6:00 pm
COVINA GROUP -1st Monday, (MO) 7:30 pm --
Floyd & Libby (818) 330-2321--
COLORADO - Denver--
Ruth (303) 757-3622
4th Saturday, (MO)1:00 pm
CONNECTICUT - see State Meeting List
New Haven/Area code 203--
Earl 329-8365 or Paul 458-9173
Dade-Broward Area --
Madeline (305) 966-4FMS--
Delray Beach PRT
Esther (407) 364-8290
2nd & 4th Thursday(MO) 1:00 pm
Tampa Bay Area --
Bob & Janet (813) 856-7091
Emerson (407) 672-3906
Chicago metro area (South of the Eisenhower)
Roger (708) 366-3717
2nd Sunday [MO] 2:00 pm
INDIANA - Indiana Friends of FMS
Nickie (317) 471-0922 (phone) 334-9839 (fax)
or Pat (219) 482-2847 see State Meeting List
IOWA - Des Moines
Betty & Gayle (515) 270-6976
2nd Saturday (MO) 11:30 am Lunch
KANSAS - Kansas City
Leslie (913) 235-0602
Pat (913) 738-4840 or Jan (816) 931-1340
Lexington - Dixie (606) 356-9309
Louisville - Bob (502) 957-2378
Last Sunday (MO) 2:00 pm
Francine (318) 457-2022
NEVADA -Las Vegas Area
Dani (702) 243-9450
MAINE - Area code 207
Bangor - Irvine & Arlene 942-8473
Freeport - Wally 865-4044
3rd Sunday (MO)
Yarmouth - Betsy 846-4268
MARYLAND - Ellicot City area--
Margie (410) 750-8694--
MASSACHUSETTS / NEW ENGLAND
Chelmsford -Ron (508) 250-9756
MICHIGAN - Grand Rapids Area - Jenison
Catharine (616) 363-1354
1st Monday (MO) -see State Meeting List
MINNESOTA see State Meeting List
Terry & Collette (507) 642-3630
Dan & Joan (612) 631-2247
Pat (913) 738-4840 or Jan (816) 931-1340
2nd Sunday (MO)
St. Louis area
Karen (314) 432-8789 or Mae (314) 837-1976
3rd Sunday (MO)
Retractors support group also meets
Springfield - Area Codes 417 and 501
Dorothy & Pete (417) 882-1821
Howard (417) 865-6097
4th Sunday [MO] 5:30 pm
NEW JERSEY (So.) See Wayne, PA
Downstate NY - Westchester, Rockland & others --Barbara (914) 761-3627
- call for bi-MO mtg info--
Upstate / Albany area
Elaine (518) 399-5749 (bi-MO)
George & Eileen (716) 586-79429 (bi-MO)
OKLAHOMA - Oklahoma City/Area code 405
Len 364-4063 --Dee 942-0531
HJ 755-3816 --Rosemary 439-2459
PENNSYLVANIA see State Meeting List
Paul & Betty (717) 691-7660
Rick & Renee (412) 563-5616
Wayne (includes So. Jersey)
November 11 & December 9
No meetings January or February--
Jim & JoAnn (610) 783-0396
TENNESSEE - Middle Tennessee
Kate (615) 665-1160
1st Wednesday (MO) 1:00 pm
Nancy & Jim (512) 478-8395
Jo or Beverly (713) 464-8970
Judith (802) 229-5154
Katie & Leo (414) 476-0285
BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
Vancouver & Mainland
Ruth (604) 925-1539
Last Saturday (MO) 1:00-4:00 pm
Victoria & Vancouver Island
John (604) 721-3219
3rd Tuesday (MO) 7:30 pm
MANITOBA, CANADA - Winnipeg --
Muriel (204) 261-0212
London 2nd Sunday: (bi-MO)
Adrian (519) 471-6338
Eileen (613) 836-3294
Toronto - North York
Pat (416) 444-9078
QUEBEC, CANADA - Montreal
--Alain (514) 335-0863
Mrs. Irene Curtis, PO Box 630, Sunbury, Victoria 3419
Telephone (03) 9740 6930
Task Force False Memory Syndrome of
"Ouders voor Kinderen"
Mrs. Anna de Jong, +31-20-693 5692
Mrs. Colleen Waugh, (09) 416-7443
The British False Memory Society
Roger Scotford, +49-1225 868-682
Deadline for NOV/DEC 1995 Issue: Monday, October 23. Mark Fax or
envelope "Attn: Meeting Notice" & send 2 months before scheduled
YOU MUST BE A STATE CONTACT OR GROUP LEADER TO POST A MEETING NOTICE
IN THIS NEWSLETTER. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BECOMING A CONTACT
WRITE: VALERIE FLING, STATE CONTACT COORDINATOR, FMSF
| Do you have access to e-mail? Send a message to |
| email@example.com |
| if you wish to receive electronic versions of this newsletter and |
| notices of radio and television broadcasts about FMS. All the |
| message need say is "add to the FMS-News". You'll also learn about |
| joining the FMS-Research list (it distributes reseach materials |
| such as news stories, court decisions and research articles). It |
| would be useful, but not necessary, if you add your full name (all |
| addresses and names will remain strictly confidential). |
For this e-mail edition of the FMSF Newsletter thanks to the Issac
Newton Institute and to St. John's College, both in Cambridge, England
The False Memory Syndrome Foundation is a qualified 501(c)3 corpora-
tion with its principal offices in Philadelphia and governed by its
Board of Directors. While it encourages participation by its members
in its activities, it must be understood that the Foundation has no
affiliates and that no other organization or person is authorized to
speak for the Foundation without the prior written approval of the Ex-
ecutive Director. All membership dues and contributions to the Founda-
tion must be forwarded to the Foundation for its disposition.
WHAT IF, parents who are facing lawsuits and want legal information
about FMS cases, had to be told, "I'm sorry, there isn't any such
WHAT IF, your son or daughter began to doubt his or her memories and
called FMSF only to get a recording, "This number is no longer in
WHAT IF, a journalist asks you where to get information about the
FMS phenomenon, and you had to answer, "Sorry, I don't know?"
WHAT IF, you want to ask a question that only an expert, familiar
with FMS can answer, and find out that FMSF can no longer provide that
information? Where would you turn?
WHAT IF the False Memory Syndrome Foundation did not exist? A
frightening thought, isn't it?
Please support our Foundation. We cannot survive without your
Reprinted from the August 1994 PFA (MI) Newsletter
YEARLY FMSF MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION
Professional - Includes Newsletter $125______
Family - Includes Newsletter $100______
Additional Contribution: _____________
__Visa: Card # & expiration date:____________________
__Mastercard:: Card # & expiration date:______________
__Check or Money Order: Payable to FMS Foundation in U.S. dollars
Please include: Name, address, state, country, phone, fax
3401 Market Street suite 130, Philadelphia, PA 19104, (215-387-1865)
This address and the phone numbers have changed as of July 15, 2000
Pamela Freyd, Ph.D., Executive Director
FMSF Scientific and Professional Advisory Board, October 1, 1995:
AARON T. BECK, M.D., D.M.S., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia,
PA; TERENCE W. CAMPBELL, Ph.D., Clinical and Forensic Psychology,
Sterling Heights, MI; ROSALIND CARTWRIGHT, Rush Presbyterian St. Lukes
Medical Center, Chicago, IL; JEAN CHAPMAN, Ph.D., University of
Wisconsin, Madison, WI; LOREN CHAPMAN, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin,
Madison, WI; FREDERICK C. CREWS, Ph.D., University of California,
Berkeley, CA; ROBYN M. DAWES, Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University,
Pittsburgh, PA; DAVID F. DINGES, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania,
The Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, PA; HENRY C.
ELLIS, Ph.D., University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM; FRED FRANKEL,
M.B.Ch.B., D.P.M., Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard Medical School,
Boston, MA; GEORGE K. GANAWAY, M.D., Emory University of Medicine,
Atlanta, GA; MARTIN GARDNER, Author, Hendersonville, NC; ROCHEL
GELMAN, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, CA; HENRY
GLEITMAN, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; LILA
GLEITMAN, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; RICHARD
GREEN, M.D., J.D., Charing Cross Hospital, London; DAVID A. HALPERIN,
M.D., Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY; ERNEST HILGARD,
Ph.D., Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA; JOHN HOCHMAN, M.D., UCLA
Medical School, Los Angeles, CA; DAVID S. HOLMES, Ph.D., University
of Kansas, Lawrence, KS; PHILIP S. HOLZMAN, Ph.D., Harvard
University, Cambridge, MA; JOHN KIHLSTROM, Ph.D., Yale University, New
Haven, CT; HAROLD LIEF, M.D., University of Pennsylvania,
Philadelphia, PA; ELIZABETH LOFTUS, Ph.D., University of Washington,
Seattle, WA; PAUL McHUGH, M.D., Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore,
MD; HAROLD MERSKEY, D.M., University of Western Ontario, London,
Canada; ULRIC NEISSER, Ph.D., Emory University, Atlanta, GA; RICHARD
OFSHE, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, CA; EMILY K ORNE,
B.A., University of Pennsyllvania, The Institute of Pennsylvania
Hospital, Philadelphia, PA; MARTIN ORNE, M.D., Ph.D., University of
Pennsylvania, The Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia,
PA; LOREN PANKRATZ, Ph.D., Oregon Health Sciences University,
Portland, OR; CAMPBELL PERRY, Ph.D., Concordia University, Montreal,
Canada; MICHAEL A. PERSINGER, Ph.D., Laurentian University, Ontario,
Canada; AUGUST T. PIPER, Jr., M.D., Seattle, WA; HARRISON POPE, Jr.,
M.D., Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA; JAMES RANDI, Author and
Magician, Plantation, FL; HENRY L. ROEDIGER, III, Ph.D. ,Rice
University, Houston, TX; CAROLYN SAARI, Ph.D., Loyola University,
Chicago, IL; THEODORE SARBIN, Ph.D., University of California, Santa
Cruz, CA; THOMAS A. SEBEOK, Ph.D., Indiana Univeristy, Bloomington,
IN; LOUISE SHOEMAKER, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia,
PA; MARGARET SINGER, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, CA;
RALPH SLOVENKO, J.D., Ph.D., Wayne State University Law School,
Detroit, MI; DONALD SPENCE, Ph.D., Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center,
Piscataway, NJ; JEFFREY VICTOR, Ph.D., Jamestown Community College,
Jamestown, NY; HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD, M.A., Institute of Psychological
Therapies, Northfield, MN; LOUIS JOLYON WEST, M.D., UCLA School of
Medicine, Los Angeles, CA.