Just read a very disturbing news story about false memory claims


So there’s a treatment facility in the U.S. that’s being sued for planting false memories in a woman, with several other women coming forward to join her.

I almost didn’t post about this because I don’t want to cause confusion for people who are already dealing with issues around memory. That includes myself, except that I know I don’t have any false memories, just the one I’ve always had. So, when you read my summary of this, just know that I believe everyone’s accounts of what happened to them, 100%. I wanted to write about it because the article is so one-sided that it disturbed me and made me angry. They even brought up multiple personalities.

The woman is claiming that the man who runs the place hypnotized her into thinking that she was part of a satanic cult and had been abused, and seen crimes taking place and participated in them. According to the story, she eventually got together with other women who had been treated there and they had the same experience of the satanic cult situation. Apparently that made them question what had really happened and now they’re suing.

The article then go on to quote the founder of the FMS group that everyone knows  so well and they said unequivocally that there is no scientific proof that the brain stores repressed memory. They said that they have proven that you can plant anything and they go on to show “examples” about people who claimed to have been sexually abused and how they were all lying.

I’m sitting here and my stomach is just tightly clenched. Why did the story only show one side!!?? Why did they only quote that woman whose sole purpose in life was to discredit her daughter’s claims and create that group!!?? Why didn’t the news article, which by the way is on ABC NEWS for god’s sake, not show the other side of the story, which proves that most people don’t make this stuff up and most people have not been influenced my therapists to believe that they were abused!!?? WHY!!??

I’m thinking about all the victims sitting there reading that story who will start questioning themselves. Because it’s a hell of a lot easier to disbelieve yourself than to have to accept that something really bad happened to you, isn’t it? I think most victims would rather believe that their memories are faulty, than accept that kind of pain.

Then I thought of all the perpetrators sitting there gloating while reading this story and seeing how they could have a defense and keep on abusing kids. I thought of all the parents and relatives who’ve gotten away with abusing their kids and how smug they must feel reading a story like that.

Do I believe that in the perfect circumstances, certain people may be able to be influenced by an unethical person? Yes. Do I believe that this is where most sexual abuse claims come from? Hell no. In fact I’m sure that it’s a very, very small percentage. But that’s not what the media wants to hear and today the FMS people got heard loud and clear and it makes me sick and so very angry.

I would even venture to say that the very, very small number of people who may have “false memories” may have memories that are based on fact but perhaps the details got jumbled. For example, a person may believe that a neighbor molested them when in reality it was a relative. I’m willing to think that could happen even though again, not very often.

When it comes down to  it: Most people who say they were sexually abused, were.

There are always going to be frauds both in the professional world and on the other side with people claiming to be victims. It happens. Could this story be true concerning these women? Yes, it could. Is it possible that the director of this facility did hypnotize them and plant false memories? I’ll say sure. Do some people claim to be victims just to get attention or make money from suing people? Yes, and that happens in all areas of life. But if you ask me if the majority of victims are doing this, my answer is an unequivical NO.

These people who push FMS would make it seem like the victims get pleasure from having to talk about what happened to them, being exposed, being ridiculed, not being believed. Sure, it’s so glamorous isn’t it? We just love attention don’t we? That’s bullshit. I know the people in this community and there is nothing pleasant or fun about any of this.

I’m so angry right now!

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About CimmarianInk

Abuse Survivor Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also known as Multiple Personalities
This entry was posted in Child Molestation, Sexual Abuse and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Just read a very disturbing news story about false memory claims

  1. meredith says:

    Trauma is trauma. If someone did not experience trauma, they can’t be made to think otherwise and have it stay with them. I know a lot of studies try to discredit sexual abuse claims, cult claims, false memory claims… but just be aware of it. At times, I do heavy soul searching about false memories, but if something’s there, it’s there. No one can talk someone in to having been raped if they weren’t. On a physical level, lies cannot live in our cells. Only actual, physical impact can make an impression on cellular memory.

    Every so many years, especially after widespread scandal heats up, articles on false memory pop up. They’re often used to discredit the victim and turn attention away from perpetrators on both a local level and global level.

    Big Dogs don’t like it when they get ‘told on.’

    • CimmerianInk says:

      You know meredith, I like something you said in your comment here. You said:If someone did not experience trauma, they can’t be made to think otherwise and have it stay with them.

      What I liked in that statement was the phrase “stay with them”. I don’t know if you meant that to be a point but I think it is. Making a memory stay if it is false would be in my opinion impossible after the passage of time. I think the article was focusing on the fact that the woemn were hypnotized and therefore the memories could be planted. What I hated was the FMS group saying that people who go to therapy are already vulnerable, as if a person that goes to therapy is incompetant and easily manipulated. That pissed me off so much!

      And yes, it’s always the perps pushing this theory to cover their own asses! It just really angered me that the news story wasn’t more balanced. It’s also possible that the women were abused and they’re hiding from it. It’s not my call but if they’re goin got do an article like that on a widely read site, they need to have balanced coverage.

      • meredith says:

        Yup, the key is “stay with them.”

        Sex sells. Lies sell. Scandal sells. Telescoping a story to create a rock solid paper is… well, kind of like creating a false memory. People are going to believe whatever they want to believe, and they’ll always look for articles like this as validation. Just because it happens somewhere, at some time, does not make it a universal truth.

        When I was diagnosed in the nineties, the world was on fire about the false claims of people with MPD/ DID. The world was at work bearing down on the medical community to discredit the diagnosis, the ‘memories’ some clients referred to (how could anything so insanely absurd happen in Small Town, USA… one nurse told me I was full of BOSNIAN BULLSHIT… as if apartheid, genocide, and coverage of the war came from Warner Bros.). Well, it didn’t change a thing in the big picture. It didn’t undo one, damn thing that went on in our family.

        I’m really sorry to hear how upsetting this is for you. It’s upsetting to me, too. It’s why I write.

  2. castorgirl says:

    Hi tb,

    Bad reporting is just that – bad reporting. Having seen the article, the angle it was aiming for was obvious. It’s well known that the memory can be influenced, and is malleable; so there are no surprises in that angle. What sticks out for me, was the focus on the lawyers and the law suits over time.

    I doubt anyone will ever know for sure what happened in this case. Yes, there are unethical mental health professionals who will cause more damage than they ever cure; but that doesn’t mean that this person is one of those. Yes, there are patients who will lie to get attention; but that doesn’t mean that this person is one of those.

    The whole thing is all very sad.

    Take care,
    CG

    • CimmerianInk says:

      It was bad reporting and irresponsible reporting. But my anger comes from knowing that most people won’t really look into it any further. They’ll just accept that as fact. Ugh.

      And yes you’re right that it’s doubtful the truth in the case will ever be known. I just wish both sides had been presented and less from those disgusting FMS people because there is no balance there.

      • castorgirl says:

        Did you read some of the comments to the article? Some are really good, and would encourage people to think or look further for answers. Many mention how bad the article was 🙂 It’s not ideal, as the article should have been balanced, but when it isn’t, I love how the comments people make help to create that balance.

        You can’t force people to have an open mind, and if someone is so narrow-minded that they will believe one newspaper article that obviously is flawed, then no amount of information will help. Those people are after a quick answer, not the truth in all it’s messiness.

        As a side note, it’s easy to be drawn into looking at everyone’s experiences based on one story. Again, if people are so narrow-minded that they will do that, then no amount of information is going to sway them. They will hold up their view as the only truth, and ignore all the shades of grey that exist.

        Humans are complex, and that means memory is too.

      • CimmerianInk says:

        Thanks for telling me about the comments on the article CG. I had avoided them because I was afraid that people would say things that would hurt or make me even angrier. I’m glad that there was some sense shown by the readers. 🙂

        And yes, some people will always see what they want to see.

        I wish memory weren’t so complex at times like this…

  3. Bay says:

    CI,
    Great post. Your anger is so very justified.
    Personally, do I think it’s possible for people to get the details of their memories wrong? Definitely, that applies to any kind of memory, not just traumatic memory. Is it possible to “implant” memories? Probably. Invent them and believe them ourselves? Probably. But how the hell could anything we invented, or have “implanted” hurt SO MUCH? There’s just no way. No way you could invent stuff that gives you flashbacks; causes so much anxiety, pain, fear; makes you respond automatically in a way you’d really rather not respond… Like Meredith said, no way to make it “stay with you” like that. And also, why would anyone want to??
    If someone is falsely accused of sexual abuse, think most likely thing is, not that it didn’t happen, but that they accused the wrong person. Easier to believe it was (for example) a neighbor than your own father. But the lengths people go to to discredit the victim, and the publicity they get, it just makes us sick.
    Gentle thoughts,
    Bay

    • CimmerianInk says:

      Hi Bay,

      You hit on the points that I agree with as well. And I really liked meredith’s point too. Also another good point is that this isn’t fun and anybody who thinks it is is crazy.

      Something you said reminded me of an example I heard or read about someone remembering a particular event and they had all these memories about it including a car. In their memory the car was, let’s say blue, but one day they saw a picture of the car and while the make and model were correct the car was actually red. Memory is like that, and getting a small detail wrong doesn’t make the whole memory wrong. I think most sexual abuse victims who have some memories have a lot details right, at least the important ones.

      Thanks for the comments Bay. 🙂

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