Recovered Memory Syndrome More Feminist Fabrications
There is no such thing as Recovered Memory Syndrome. It is anothe lunatic fringe concept promoted by the ignorant. It is no different than accusing people of being witches. It is a modern version of mass hysteria based on hate, jealousy and the delusions of mentally ill women.
Recovered Memory Syndrome is another of the many absurd and fabricated diseases invented by a psychiatric profession which is based more on mumbo jumbo, then on any known science.
Unfortunately the women who claim to have recovered memories and the "therapists" who helped them fabricate these delusions are never the victims. It is always some innocent man, a father, husband or close relative in the life of a hysterical, demented woman. This sick woman, (the 20th century versions of the girls at Salem who accused innocents of being witches) is lashing out, seeking to find a scapegoat for her failures as a human being.
These are the women and therapists who insist that some innocent man take responsibility for things that never happened, but they never take responsibility for what they do or for their failure. These women and therapists never are jailed for falsely jailing innocent men. Why is that?
THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF PSYCHIATRISTS
R E P O R T E D R E C O V E R E D M E M O R I E S
O F C H I L D S E X U A L A B U S E
Press Release , 1st April 1998
On the Validity of Repressed Memory Therapy
A comprehensive review of the literature on recovered memories of childhood
sexual abuse has concluded that when 'memories' are recovered after long
periods of amnesia, particularly when questionable techniques were used to
recover them, there is a high probability that the memories are false.
Published in the April 1998 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, the
review article by Professor Sydney Brandon and colleagues presents the
conclusions of an overview of recovered memories and the techniques used to
elicit them. This follows last year's publication of consensus
recommendations for good practice (Royal College of Psychiatrists Working
Group on Reported Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse, 1997).
A recovered memory, in the context of this paper, is the emergence of an
apparent recollection of childhood sexual abuse of which the individual had
no previous knowledge.
A false memory is the recollection of an event which did not occur, but
which the individual subsequently strongly believes.
The paper distinguishes different types of memory, namely episodic,
autobiographical and implicit. Numerous studies in children and adults
have found that psychologically traumatic events often result in an
inability to forget, rather than a complete expulsion from awareness.
Amnesia for prolonged recurrent abuse is rare. Adult patients suffering
from amnesia are well aware of the gap in their memory. It has not been
possible to demonstrate any clear link between clinical accounts of trauma
and the neurobiology of memory.
Memory changes overtime and is subject to error and distortion
A growing body of research indicates that memory is fallible and vulnerable
to suggestion; and that suggestibility and confabulation increase with the
length of time between the events and later attempts to recall it.
The authors conclude that individual autobiographical memory is unreliable,
and that people are often unable to remember considerable parts of their
past experiences. Expectations and beliefs can colour people's
recollections, and gaps in memory will be filled to create a "life story"
which they find satisfying.
Confidence in one's memory does not correlate with the accuracy of the
memory. No autobiographical memory can be relied on without some external
corroboration, but the frequent denial, even by proven abusers, and the
secrecy surrounding child abuse often make such corroboration difficult to
Memory enhancement techniques questioned
Therapists may use a number of techniques, some of which are regularly
employed in orthodox therapy but are questionable when used as 'memory
recovery' procedures. These include:
- Check Lists: there is no evidence that any check lists, syndromes,
symptoms or signs indicate with any degree of reliability that an
individual has been sexually abused in the remote past.
- Drug-induced abreaction: It is inappropriate to use repeated abreaction
to 'trawl' for traumatic events. There is considerable anecdotal clinical
evidence that in repeated session patients will eventually generate
material which is a product of fantasy. Even in a single session of
abreaction great caution is required.
- Hypnosis: this technique has been shown to be unreliable as a means of
eliciting memories of past events, and such 'memories' are no longer
admitted as legal testimony.
- Age regression: there is no evidence for the efficacy of this technique,
nor can it be shown that the subject's 'memories' actually do regress to
the target age.
- Dream interpretation: there is no evidence that dreams are a 'royal road'
to historical accuracy; and interpretations usually reflect the training
and personal convictions of the therapist.
- Imagistic and 'feelings' work and art therapy: although many of these
techniques are applications of accepted clinical practice, they can be
powerfully suggestive and induce trance-like states. The beliefs of the
therapist are the determining factor in how a patient's production are shaped.
- Survivors' groups: whilst these can be supportive, the practice of mixing
those who clearly remember abuse with those who are suspected by the
therapist of having repressed their memories has been strongly criticised
because of the risk of suggestion and contagion among group members.
The authors conclude that memory enhancement techniques do not actually
enhance memory, and that there is evidence that they can be powerful and
dangerous methods of persuasion. Many of the memories 'recovered' by these
measures refer to events in the early months and years of life, which fall
within the period of infantile amnesia, and must be regarded as implausible
for that reason. The evidence suggests that all the techniques outlined
above can create entirely new and false memories, not only experimentally
but also in clinical practice.
Can repeated, severe childhood abuse be forgotten?
There is no evidence that memories can be 'blocked out' by the mind, either
by repression or by dissociation. Given the revalence of childhood sexual
abuse, even if only a small proportion of memories are repressed and only
some of them subsequently recovered, there should be a significant number
of corroborated cases recovered through psychotherapy in the literature.
In fact, there is none.
Distortion of memory may occur in any therapeutic situation, and
psychiatrists need to be aware of the techniques employed by other members
of their teams, such as community psychiatric nurses, psychologists and
The review paper ends with a series of guidelines to help psychiatrists to
avoid the pitfalls of memory recovery. The issue of false or recovered
memories should not, the authors emphasize, be allowed to confuse the
recognition and treatment of sexually abused children. However, it is also
essential to minimise the risk of creating false memories of abuse which
will cause the patient and family further suffering. More research is
needed into the reported associations between childhood sexual abuse and
later adult psychopathology. The authors conclude that at present there is
no specific post-sexual abuse syndrome.
For press copies of the paper or further information contact
or Vanessa Harries
on Tel 00 44 171 235 2351 ext 127 or 154
EXCERPTS FROM THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF PSYCHIATRY REPORT
From the "RECOMMENDATIONS"
- Psychiatrists are advised to avoid engaging in techniques which are
intended to reveal evidence of past sexual abuse of which the patient has
no memory, and should regard with extreme caution memories of this kind
whenever they appear. There is no evidence that the use of
consciousness-altering techniques, such as drug-mediated interviews or
hypnosis, can reveal or elaborate evidence of childhood sexual abuse.
Techniques of 'regression therapy' (age regression, guided imagery, 'body
memories' journaling, or literal dream interpretation, where this is used
as evidence of fact) are of dubious provenance.
- Forceful or persuasive interviewing techniques are not acceptable
in psychiatric practice. Doctors should be aware that patients are
susceptible to subtle suggestions and reinforcements, whether or not these
communications are intended.
- The psychiatrist should alert the patient to any doubts about the
historical accuracy of recovered memories of previously unknown sexual
abuse. This is particularly important if the patient intends to take action
outside the therapeutic situation. Memories, however emotionally intense
and significant to the individual, may not necessarily represent historical
Memories may be
(1) historically true,
(2) metaphorical representations,
(3) caused by the psychological state of the patient or
(4) be the result of unintentional suggestion by the practitioner.
- It may be legitimate not to question the validity of a recovered
memory while it remains within the privacy of the consulting room, although
this introduces the risk of colluding in the creation of a life history
based upon a false belief.
- The psychiatrist should help the patient think through the
consequences of any confrontation. In these circumstances it is important
to encourage a search for corroborative evidence before any action is
taken. The truth or falsity of the underlying memories cannot be known in
the absence of such evidence.
- Where an alleged abuser is still in touch with children, serious
consideration must be given to informing the appropriate social services.
This must be done where there are reasonable grounds for believing that the
alleged assault took place and that children may still be at risk. The
psychiatrist must also be prepared to state clearly whether he or she
believes that the grounds for any accusation are unlikely or impossible.
Alongside reports of recovered memories of sexual abuse there have
been growing numbers of cases of multiple personality disorder (also known
as dissociative identity disorder).
There seems little doubt that many of
these cases are iatrongenically (caused by the doctor or therapist ed.) determined.
Any spontaneous presentation of
multiple personality disorder should be sympathetically considered but
should not be made the subject of undue attention nor should the patient be
encouraged to develop 'alter personalities' in whom to invest aspects of
their personality, their fantasies or their current life problems.
Psychiatrists should be particularly aware of the unreliability of the
memories reported in these cases and of the close association both with
prolonged therapy and with recovered memories of sexual abuse, particularly
alleged satanic abuse. Since there is no settled view of the validity of
multiple personality disorder, and because of the very strong correlation
with recovered memories of sexual abuse which is itself a disputed concept,
there is a strong case for a consensus paper on multiple personality
disorder based upon a substantial review of the literature.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists working party produced also a
full report which was published in the April 1998 issue of the house organ
of the College the British Journal of Psychiatry. The following are the
conclusions of that report based on a study of the relevant scientific
SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE
(from the Royal College report)
- There is NO empirical evidence to support either repression or
dissociation, though there is much clinical support for these concepts.
Evidence does not support the existence of "robust repression."
- Events are constantly forgotten and remembered on a daily basis.
- There is abundant evidence, both clinically and experimentally, that
memory can be distorted and that false memories do occur.
- Illusory memories can arise during the course of any psychological
treatment, whether or not it is designated as "recovered memory therapy".
Their creation seems to depend upon the conviction of the therapist or the
patient that child sexual abuse underlies adult psychopathology.
- Memory enhancing techniques do not improve the quality of remembering.
They do increase the conviction with which memories, true or false, are
held. They appear to be dangerous methods of persuasion.
- More research is needed into the associations between childhood sexual
abuse and later adult psychopathology. At present we can only conclude that
there is no pathognomic post sexual abuse syndrome.
- There is no means of determining the factual truth or falsity of a
recovered memory other than through external evidence, difficult though
this is to obtain. Some reported events are so incredible that they could
not have occurred and should not be believed.
For the full report and biblography see The British Journal of Psychiatry
(1998) 172, 296 - 307
THE GLOBE AND MAIL, Editorial Wednesday, April 15, 1998
Remember Those Justice Forgot
'SCIENCE helped convict him. Science exonerated him," wrote Mr.
Justice Fred Kaufman in his inquiry into the wrongful conviction of
Guy Paul Morin for the 1984 murder of Christine Jessop. Mr. Morin is
lucky, if you can use such a word to describe the ordeal he has
endured, because DNA evidence allowed him to triumph over the failures
of the Canadian criminal justice system. Like Judge Kaufman, though,
we believe Mr. Morin is not the only innocent person to have been
"swept up in the criminal process."
Unfortunately, many of these people are unable to marshal DNA or any
other evidence to bolster their protestations of innocence. That's
because they have been convicted of horrible crimes, including rape
and murder, based on nothing more substantial than an accusation
founded on so-called repressed and then recovered memories of sexual
abuse. Most of them can't even publicize their stories because
publication bans have been imposed to protect the privacy of the
Recovered-memory therapy was one of the most pernicious trends to
sweep North America in the late 1980s and early 1990s, fracturing
thousands of families and leading to hundreds of arrests and
financially crippling lawsuits. Almost two years ago, the Canadian
Psychiatric Association followed the lead of the Americans and the
Australians and produced a position paper saying that memories of
childhood sexual abuse triggered in adults during psychotherapy are
unreliable and should not be accepted without corroborating
evidence. In January, a leaked report from Britain's Royal College of
Psychiatrists went even further.
"Despite widespread clinical and popular belief that memories can be
"blocked out' by the mind, no empirical evidence exists to support
either repression or dissociation," said the report, which went on to
say that "repression and recovery of verified, severely traumatic
events, and their role in symptom formation has yet to be proved."
These denunciations have yet to penetrate the Canadian criminal-
justice system. That's why we are calling on Justice Minister Anne
McLellan to order an inquiry into all convictions based on this
internationally discredited therapeutic theory. There are precedents
for such a review.
In 1995, the justice minister and solicitor-general
asked Madam Justice Lynne Ratushny of the Ontario Court's Provincial
Division to review nearly 100 cases of women convicted of murder or
manslaughter before 1990, when the Supreme Court ruled that battered-
women syndrome is a legitimate defence. As a result of the review,
the federal government granted conditional pardons or early release to
four women and referred the case of a fifth woman to an appeal court.
Recognizing battered-woman syndrome provided a retroactive defence to
women charged with murdering their partners. A similar consideration
should be extended to people who were convicted based on another
syndrome that has, in this case, been discredited. We aren't the only
ones arguing for such a review. Late last month, Alan Gold, president
of the Criminal Lawyers Association made a similar appeal in a letter
to the Justice Minister. He asked her to "conduct an inquiry into this
entire category of convictions, with a view to releasing forthwith all
those prisoners who would not have been convicted but for the
testimony of 'recovered memories.' " As Mr. Gold said, "an urgent and
powerful need exists" to act on this matter without delay.
Alan Gold's Letter
Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Canada
Justice Building 239 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0H8
Under the direction of your predecessor in office, a special inquiry was
conducted into a particular category of past criminal convictions, namely
that of women found guilty of murdering their husbands; you were involved
in acting on that inquiry's conclusions. The ground for reopening all
those cases was not the usual one applied in appeals of individual
convictions (such as errors at the trial level or new evidence); rather, it
was a new psychological concept (the "battered wife syndrome"), one not
explicitly existing in law at the time of the original trial, but later
deemed applicable to an entire group of cases.
Without considering the merits of the earlier inquiry, it has become
increasingly plain that an urgent and powerful need exists for that type of
governmental action in another category of cases. In recent years, a
certain concept has been allowed uncritically into jurisprudence in Canada
and elsewherethat of "repressed" and later "recovered" memory. There was
never any legitimate reason for regarding such alleged memories as
trustworthy; but by this point in time it is perfectly clear that they are
In the past two years, professional associations of psychiatrists,
psychologists and other mental- health workers in various countries
(including Canada) have officially warned that such "memories" are so
unreliable in general that their evidential value in any individual case is
zero. In fact, great numbers of practitioners in those fields maintain
that memory "repression" (an unconscious act, not mere forgetting) does not
exist at all, certainly not in the case of serious trauma. But that debate
is immaterial to the concerns of the Justice system; real or not, such
alleged memories are too readily confused with the results of suggestion
and confabulation to have any degree of reliability.
As realization of the total unreliability of "recovered memory" has taken
hold in the justice community, courts in many places have responded
appropriately. In the US, Appellate and Supreme Courts in New Hampshire,
Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas, Rhode Island, Alabama,
Pennsylvania, Illinois, Arizona, California, Wisconsin, North Carolina,
Utah and Maryland have issued judgments recognizing the injustice of an
accused being convicted on grounds of "recovered memory".
And yet that now-discredited concept has by this point in time been applied
in scores of court cases in our country. More recently, such "evidence"
has not been allowed to hold sway in Canada either. But those men
convicted under the older naive views continue to suffer - and some of them
are still in prison because of it. Worse yet, courts in certain individual
"repressed memory" cases in Canada have turned down appeals based on
today's greater awareness of how memory works - apparently on the narrow
grounds that all was done properly under the jurisprudence of the time.
Because of these circumstances, the undersigned believe, there is only one
just and proper thing for the Justice Minister to do. Conduct an inquiry into
this entire category of convictions, with a view to releasing forthwith all
those prisoners who would not have been convicted but for the testimony of
Given the systemic nature of the original injustice, and given the failure
of Canadian courts to act on the problem even in individual cases, and
given the ongoing suffering of those convicted without any adequate
grounds, it is absolutely imperative that you act on this matter without
Yours very truly,
Alan D. Gold,
President Criminal Lawyers Association
Also signed by dozens of other lawyers