False Memory Syndrome – What The Studies Say

Professor Alan Schefflin, Santa Clara University Law School and Dr. Daniel Brown reviewed 25 recent studies (spring 1996) on Amnesia for childhood sexual abuse. They state:

“No study failed to find it….Amnesia for childhood sexual abuse is a robust finding across studies using very different samples and methods of assessment. Studies addressing the accuracy of recovered memories show that recovered memories are no more or no less accurate than continuous memories for abuse”.

Herman & Schatzow (1987): 53 women – 36% always remembered, 64% some amnesia; 36% mild to moderate amnesia; 28% “severe memory deficits”. 74% found corroboration, with 40% getting confirmation for perpetrators, other family members, physical evidence and 34% from siblings or other victims.

Albach (in press): 97 women with a history of CSA and a matched control of 65 non-abused women. 35% in the sexually abused group reported amnesia at some time, compared to 1% in the control group who reported amnesia for nontraumatic unpleasant childhood experiences. Psychotherapy was not typically reported to be the cause of recovering the abuse memory.

Roe & Schwartz (1996): 52 women, hospitalized for sexual trauma. 88% reported history of csa. 77% not remembered for significant time (3 to 45 years)

Bernet et al (1993): 624 undergraduates reported at least one experience of sexual abuse prior to age 15. 36% reported no memory for a time. Only 30% had been in therapy so “unlikely that they remembered their abuse as a consequence of psychotherapy”

Belicki et al (1994): 55.4% of abused students in study reported disrupted memory. “Subjects reporting no abuse responded significantly differently than the other three groups with respect to definitons of sexual abuse, psychiatric symptoms and sleep and dream behaviour. There were no significant differences in response the the questions between those who reported and those who did not report corroboration of abuse. There were also no significant differences in response to the questions bewteen those who had disrupted memory and those who had continuous memory for childhood sexual abuse. Those who had recovered memories were just as likely as those who had a continuous memory to have corroborative evidence for the abuse.

Van Der Kolk & Fisler (1995): 46 adults in in depth interview. Of the 36 subjects with childhood trauma 42% had suffered significant or total amnesia at some time. Corroborative evidence available for 75%. Williams (1994) : 129 women who had been sexually abused as children. 38 % failed to report or were amnestic for childhood sexual abuse though it was clearly documented in medical records 17 years earlier. 32% said they were never abused. “Amnesia for sexual abuse in a community sample is not an uncommon event. There was a tendency for women with the clearest evidence of abuse to be more amnestic”

Widom & Morris (in press): Court substantiated abuse and child-neglect cases. 39% of the sexually abused failed to report the documented child abuse. “We have also found substantial under-reporting of sexual abuse among known victims of sexual abuse. This is particularly impressive since these are court substantiated cases of childhood sexual abuse”

Spiegel: “Memories in dissociate amnesia are not so much distorted as they are segregated from one another.”

Williams: In general, women with recovered memories had no more inconsistencies in their reports than women who had always remembered….their retrospective reports were remarkably consistent with what had been reported in the 1970’s….the stories were in large part true to the basic elements”.

Dalenberg (1996):Memories of abuse recovered in psychotherapy were no more or no less accurate than memories of abuse that had always beem remembered. The overall accuracy rate of both continued and recovered memories of abuse was quite high (70%) Just over half the patient sample significantly improved their accuracy for their abuse memories in the course of psychotherapy”.

About those who coined False Memory Syndrome

Ralph Underwager, one of the founders of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, is credited with having coined the term. In 1993, he gave an interview with the Dutch paedophile magazine, Paedika, in which he was reported as saying that paedophilia could be a responsible choice and that having sex with children could be seen as ‘part of God’s will’. The other co-founders of the FMSF were Pamela and Peter Freyd, whose adult daughter made accusations of childhood sexual abuse. The American media gave them almost unquestioning support until their daughter, psychology Professor Jennifer Freyd, felt obliged to speak out publicly, to stop the damage that she felt her parents and their organisation were doing to abuse survivors.

Other early promoters of false memory syndrome in the US were Paul and Shirley Erberle. In the 1970s, when child pornography laws were less rigid, they edited a magazine called Finger in which there were explicit illustrations of children involved in sexual acts with adults, with features entitled ‘Sexpot at Five’, ‘My First Rape, She Was Only Thirteen’ and ‘Toilet Training’. Another key figure is Felicity Goodyear-Smith, author of First Do No Harm (1993). Felicity Goodyear-Smith admits to a personal as well as professional involvement in the issue. Her husband and parents-in-law were imprisoned for sexual abuse offences, having been members of the New Zealand community, CentrePoint, that encouraged sexual intimacy amongst its members, including the children. Although the adults involved were prosecuted for these acts, including public sex with children, Goodyear-Smith claims that this was simply ‘childhood sexual experimentation’ and quotes studies that claim to show that adult-child sex can be harmless. The false memory syndrome foundation was formed by Pamela and Peter Freyd, who were theirselves accused of abuse by their daughter (insidently their daughter – Jennifer Freyd – wrote an amzing bok called “Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse“).

Is it just me, or do all of these people appear to have alternative motives?

Repressed memories in none sexual abuse cases

Repressed memory in war vets or holocaust survivors has been a long acknowledged phenomena. It was only when it began to be about sexual abuse that people start yelling about FMS.

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second it is violently opposed. Third it is accepted as being self-evident” (Arthur Schopenhauer)

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Mental health and “coolness”

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Had a few conversaions recsetly about people faking mental illnesses, specifially people faking DID. Now whenever these topics come up the first thing I think is “why would anyone fake this?” and the most common reply is “attention” or “be look cool”. Now ok the attention one I sort of get, but to look cool? really? How exactly is essentially saying “so ye, I was raped and abused as in infant and so my mind sort of split as a defence mechanism, so now I don’t remember large chunks of my life, I get awful headaches, doctors don’t trust me with medication, I can’t hold down a job and I get confused by really simple stuff” cool? Maybe I am just out of the loop and misunderstand the meaning of the word “cool” but to me the fact that a person was ABUSED is not a “cool” thing :/ and pretending that you were abused just so that you have something to say when conersations start to die is also not a “cool” thing.

I don’t know, I just don’t get it… living with this is HELL 90% of the time. The constant noise, the never knowing what day it is, the never being able to plan anything as you’ve no idea if you are going to be functional let alone “you” on any given day, the “waking up” in unknown places and haing to go into a shop to ask “excuse me, thais may sound like an odd question, ut what city is this?”, not to mention the flashbacks, the nightmares, the insomnia, the “flashes” that make nosense, the fact that no therapist will touch you with a barge pole so you are constantly being bumped from one psych to another, etc…

Just some thoughts… Also if anyone I’ve been talking about this with reads this: none of this is a critism or anything like that, it’s just basically me thinking out loud and wanting to get some peoples opinions in order to help me to understand.

Charity events

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Well my justgiving page closed the other day for my 2 peak challenge. I raised £25 for rethink… I hiked up and dwon Ben Nevis (1344m), Scafell Pike (977m), and Snowdon (1085m) in a single 24 hours a total of 27.5 miles (which may nto be mch but this was on mountains 😛 and with traveling between them in between).

 

My next “mission” is taking place on the 5th of December and is to run 5km while wearing a santa suit. This time the money is going to War Child – my justgiving page is here. I’m hoping that I’ve learnt lessons from my Rethink fundraising and so can make a larger success of this one (not that I am forgetting about Rethink, just got a few events coming up before I have another go at fundraising for them again)

 

I am also in the process of planning to do some fundraising for ECPAT, which is a global network of organisations and individuals working together for the elimination of child prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. I just haven’t worked out what to do yet… I’m open to suggestions though 🙂

Stress and the past

Last week I met with a psych who saw me when I was 10. As many probably know I remember very little (other than a few disjointed images and feelings and flashbacks) before the age of 15 so the idea was to see this psych and get copiess of my notes. So I saw him yesterday and went through the notes and now I know what happened, I now know why we are the way we are, know why we are multiple, know what happened. Still don’t remember much, though the flashbacks are increasing. From what I now understand my mum used to have a guy accross the street “baby sit” me and he was not exactly a good babysitter… the psych said that we (him, myself and my grandparents) tried to take legal action but that by this time the guy had died and none of the others invovled could be identified

I always knew my parents messed me up a bit, and that may have contributed a little to my staying with Tristan (my ex) for as long as I did… but I now know that there were more things that happened before that so now I dont even know how many people have essentially used me for one thing or another I just find it interesting how this guy when I was a kid and Tristan both used me essentially in the same way… the guy sold me to people, and Tristan sold me to drug dealers and used me to film “rape porn” which he then sold. So essentially by 2 seperate people, at 2 seperate times, in 2 seperate cities I had my body used to gain money… is that what I am to people? A form of income? As stupid as this may sound I can accept the abuse from Tristan hisself, and from his friends, for some reason when I think about that I still feel like they at least concidered me a person, but when they brought other people into it and when they planned it out to create an income for theirselves it just feels like suddenly I bacame an object, not a person, not alive, just a thing.

I’m also stressed… seriously stressed… won’t go into detail but bacially money trouble, family issues, relationship issues, psychological issues and appecting of the past issues.

It’s starting to make me ill though… I can’t sleep, I can’t consentrate on stuff and I am CONSTANTLY tired and in pain from headaches and stomach pains. I can’t eat properly and every time I do I end up having stabbing pains. Due to the stress level flashbacks have increased, not to mention due to the new discoveries from my past which have also added to the flashbacks.

Then this morning on my way to check the post I went dizzy, my vision started to fade, I lost all feeling in my legs, and the next thing I knew I was at the bottom of te stairs. I’ve not got a masive bruise on my leg 😦

I am so tired all the time. I wake up on a morning feeling just as tired as I did when I went to bed, the fact that I’m having nightmares and so not sleeping much isn’t helping either. Went to GPs today to get an appointment, they dont have any till NOVEMBER!!! :/ so now I’m going to just have to hope that someone cancels their appointment so that I can have it insted

eugh, sometimes life just loves to pile rubbish up.

However, on a lghter note, my photography buisiness is starting to make headway 🙂 – http://shadowlightphotography.wordpress.com/ even been booked for a wedding in December!

The feelings of an abused child

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An attempt to express the feelings that a child goes through during an abusive upbringing. This needs some editing, I wrote it while still semi-dissociaty after a flashback while the feelings were still there so the grammar and stuff needs looking at.

They claim that they love and care for you, but that you need to be taught about the horrors and evils of the world to be made stronger. They both protect and comfort you, but also place you in situations where you feel that you are going to die you experience pain so intense that you cannot think; your head spins; our insides burn; you can no longer remember who you are or why you are here.

All you know is pain, all you feel in desperation. You consider crying out for help, but no one will listen, you can’t stop nor change what is happening. No matter that you do or say the pain will never stop. You are told the pain and suffering, the fear and horror is for your own good. Told that you need discipline, that you asked for it with your misbehaviour. Betrayal seems like too simple a word to describe the feelings of pain, loneliness and isolation.

When you try to talk about the pain you are told that you must be crazy: “nothing bad has happened to you”, “stop looking for attention”, “shut up already”. Each day you begin to feel more and more like you no longer know what is real. You stop trusting your own feelings as no one else acknowledges them so you must be over-reacting.

You learn to do everything that you are told with the upmost compliance, you forget everything that you ever wanted or hoped for. The pain is still there, lurking beneath the surface, but it is easier to pretend it’s not there, to bury the horrors that are in the deepest darkest corners of the mind.
The pain grows to an unbearable level, until your feelings start to shut down, you become numb: lonely and desperate you begin to give up on the senses that make people feel alive. You feel dead, you wish you were dead, there is no way out and there is no hope.

False memory syndrome foundation – ulterior motive for creation?

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Ralph Underwager, one of the founders of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, gave an interview in 1993 with the Dutch paedophile magazine, Paedika, in which he was reported as saying that paedophilia could be a responsible choice and that having sex with children could be seen as ‘part of God’s will’. The other co-founders of the FMSF were Pamela and Peter Freyd, whose adult daughter made accusations of childhood sexual abuse. The American media gave them almost unquestioning support until their daughter, psychology Professor Jennifer Freyd, felt obliged to speak out publicly, to stop the damage that she felt her parents and their organisation were doing to abuse survivors.

Other early promoters of false memory syndrome in the US were Paul and Shirley Erberle. In the 1970s, when child pornography laws were less rigid, they edited a magazine called Finger in which there were explicit illustrations of children involved in sexual acts with adults, with features entitled ‘Sexpot at Five’, ‘My First Rape, She Was Only Thirteen’ and ‘Toilet Training’. Another key figure is Felicity Goodyear-Smith, author of First Do No Harm (1993). Felicity Goodyear-Smith admits to a personal as well as professional involvement in the issue. Her husband and parents-in-law were imprisoned for sexual abuse offences, having been members of the New Zealand community, CentrePoint, that encouraged sexual intimacy amongst its members, including the children. Although the adults involved were prosecuted for these acts, including public sex with children, Goodyear-Smith claims that this was simply ‘childhood sexual experimentation’ and quotes studies that claim to show that adult-child sex can be harmless.

Child and Women Abuse Studies Unit

Do we see a pattern here in the backstories and activities of the founders and of the term over all? I do

Ritual abuse. What is it? (potentially triggering)

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Many people with DID suffered some form of ritual abuse either in a cult or in some other organisation during childhood. As such I thought it might be a topic I should touch upon in this blog…

A cult is a group of people who share an obsessive devotion to a person or idea. Some cults use violent tactics to recruit, indoctrinate, and keep members. Ritual abuse is defined as the emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive acts preformed by violent cults, many of these cults do not openly express their beliefs and practices, often living separately from the general public, isolating and alienating their members from outside influences.
Some victims of ritual abuse are children abused outside of the home by non-family members, often in public settings such as day care centres and Sunday schools. Other victims are children and teenagers who are forced by their parents, or other family members, to witness and participate in violent rituals. Adult ritual abuse victims often include these grown children who were forced from childhood to be members of the group. Other adult and teenage victims are people who unwittingly joined and organisation or social group that slowly manipulated and blackmailed them into becoming permanent members of the group. All cases of ritual abuse, no matter what age of the victim, involve intense physical and emotional trauma.
Violent cults may sacrifice humans and animals as part of religious rituals. They use torture to silence victims and other unwilling participants. Ritual abuse victims say that they are degraded and humiliated and are often forced to torture, kill, and sexually violate animals or other helpless victims. The purpose of the ritual abuse is usually indoctrination. The cults intend to destroy these victims free will by understanding their sense of safety in the world and by forcing them to hurt others.
In recent years a number of people have been convicted on sexual abuse charges in cases where the victims had reported elements of ritual abuse. These survivors (mainly children) described being raped by groups of adults who were wearing costumes or masks and said that they were forced to witness religious-type rituals in which animals and humans were tortured or killed. In one case, in 1989, the defence introduced in court photographs of the children being abused by the defendants. In another case, the police found tunnels etched with crosses and pentagrams along with stone alters and candles in a cemetery where abuse had been reported. The defendants in this case pleaded guilty to charges of incest, child cruelty, and indecent assault.
There are many myths concerning the parents and children who report ritual abuse. Some people suggest that the whole idea of ritual abuse is nothing more than “mass hysteria”. They say that the parents of these children who report ritual abuse are often just on a “witch hunt”. These sceptics claim that the parents fear Satanists and used their knowledge of the Black Mass (a historically well-known sexualised ritual in which animals and humans are sacrificed) to brainwash their children into saying that they have been ritually abused by Satanists.

The practice of ritual abuse is a difficult topic for many to confront or even comprehend. The children are tortured and brainwashed in order to assure compliance and loyalty to the group. The memories of ritual abuse survivors are often so graphic and perverse that some people question whether any of the stories could be true. Yet ritual abuse survivors experience overwhelming pain and trauma related symptoms as they remember the abuse: flashbacks; body memories; dissociation; anxiety; fear; etc. all of which are also seen in torture victims from wartime incidents, prisoners of war and war crimes.

Ritual abuse is a real, systematic and brutal practice happening today

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