FMSF NEWSLETTER ARCHIVE - May 1, 1992 - Vol. 1, No. 4, HTML version

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F M S   F O U N D A T I O N   N E W S L E T T E R
May 1, 1992 (transliterated into ASCII for record purposes)
3508 Market Street suite 128,  Philadelphia, PA 19104,  (215-387-1865)

This address and the phone numbers have changed as of July 15, 2000

Dear Friends,

  Your new office is open. We are currently scheduling volunteers and
as soon as we are prepared to handle the response, we will send out a
press release to all the names you have sent us.

  FMS Foundation
  3508 Market Street

This address and the phone numbers have changed as of July 15, 2000
  Philadelphia, PA 19104
  Phone: 215-387-1865
  Fax: 215-387-1917 

  This Foundation came into being because many of us believe that we
have been judged guilty by therapists who have never met us, indeed,
who have refused to be in the same room with us. We have been
frustrated because our accusers refuse to consider any evidence that
we might offer such as lie detector tests, doctors' reports or
testimonials from other family members.

  The following quote was taped from the CNBC program Real Personal on
April 27, 1992. During this show, host Bob Berkowitz interviewed
Brenda Wade, Ph.D. who was identified as a licensed San Francisco
family therapist and as "Good Morning America's On-Air Psychologist."

  Wade: [Talking about sexual abuse victims] "It's so common that I'll
  tell you, I can within 10 minutes, I can spot it as a person walks
  in the door, often before they even realize it. There's a trust, a
  lack of trust, that's the most common issue. There's a way that a
  person presents themselves. There's a certain body language that
  says I'm afraid to expose myself. I'm afraid you're going to hurt

  A friend of ours has commented that this really represents amazing
progress in diagnostic techniques. Three hundred years ago, during the
Salem Witch Trials, a witch could be recognized by the screams she
caused as she approached a panel of young girls. In 1992, however, the
guilty party needn't even be in the same room. A child abuser can be
recognized by a psychologist as the supposed victim approaches.

/                                                                    \
|                    For help call 1-800-568-8882                    |
                           FAMILIES DIVIDED

  Many patterns are emerging as Holly and I pour over the surveys.
Most seem to be stable (i.e., 90% of the accusing children are female,
high educational levels of parents and children, above average median
incomes, great amount of time spent in family activities). Some
patterns, however, vary depending on the geographic locations in which
the families live. For example, many families from Utah have been
added to our list in the past weeks, and we predict that will increase
the percentage of Mormon families.
  We make no claims that the survey is a representative sample of
families affected. Indeed, we doubt that it is because we have been
told by some families that it was simply too painful for them to fill
out. The survey is a start as we set out to document the scope of the
problem of false memories.
  One of the saddest patterns to emerge indicates that false memories
may be far worse for the people who have them than for the people who
are accused. This is a hypothesis based on the following preliminary
survey results. (Only extensive and careful evaluations of all members
of a family could begin to ascertain the full psychological effects of
this phenomenon and the surveys show unequivocally that the therapists
refuse to treat us as families.)

  Children represented in 89 completed surveys = 317

  Mean # children in families = 3.5

  Making accusations
        YES               NO             DON'T KNOW
     N = 119 (37%)     N = 198 (61%)      7 (2 %)
     (F=103, M=16)     (F=89, M=102)

  Non-accusing siblings who believe accusations
        YES          NO       DON'T KNOW
         14         164            20

  The descriptive data included in the survey show that accusing and
non-accusing children have almost nothing to do with each other. The
accusing children are either cut off or cut themselves off from all
non-believing people. They become encapsulated in a group of
  These data are interesting from another perspective. As a group, it
is clear that the majority of the children do not believe the
recovered memories of abuse. Yet, even though the majority of our
children neither have nor believe the memories, in the eyes of most of
the world, we are still considered "guilty." How do we prove our


  We have begun to examine the section on therapy in the survey. Here
too, we find patterns. The first obvious issue is the fact that
approximately a third of the families have no idea about the details
of the therapy, including who the therapist is. Only a few families
had investigated thoroughly and gotten complete information. The
information is spotty but there are patterns. About 70% of the
therapists are female and the majority of those in their 30's. 95% of
the families were sure that the allegations arose during therapy and
the following preliminary figures give some indication of the
techniques used. (Please note that we are still receiving surveys.)

  based on 113 surveys

                   # families reporting use
  Courage to Heal               40
  Other books                   22
  Hypnosis                      37
  Dream interpretation          32
  Rape counseling               18
  Survivors' groups             40
  Women's center                22
  Eating disorder clinic        10
  Adult Children of Alcoholics  23
  AA or other drug program       5

  Other Techniques that were mentioned

  Satanism expert brought in
  Prayer therapy
  Primal scream therapy
  Sodium amytal
  Trance writing
  Regression therapy
  Neuro-linguistic programming
  Massage therapy
  Massage Therapy

  Unknown (28) Infancy (14) Age 2 (16) Age 3 (15) Age 4 (12) 
  Age 5 (10) Age 6 (7) Age 8 (1) Age 9 (1) Age 10 (2) Age 13 (3) 
  Age 14 (1) 

    The number of years the memories were repressed ranged from 8 to
  51. The median was 25 years.

/                                                                    \
|                     Where do 309 families live?                    |
|    AK1)   AR(1)   AZ(2)   CA(19)  CO(5)   DE(1)   FL(7)   GA(4)    |
|    IA(1)  ID(1)   IL(9)   IN(6)   LA(1)   MA(2)   MD(2)   MI(15)   |
|    MN(3)  MS(1)   MT(1)   NC(3)   NJ(18)  NV(1)   NY(15)  OH(25)   |
|    OR(3)  PA(96)  SC(2)   TX(9)   UT(23)  VA(2)   VT(1)   WA(5)    |
|    WI (18)    DC(1)   ON(Canada)(2)    ABROAD(1)                   |


  The False Memory Syndrome Foundation will be able to accomplish as
many things as our financial and volunteer resources allow. With our
current level of dues funding of $100 per year per family, we will be
able to continue to produce the newsletter, send out small packets of
information to new families and maintain the office and toll free
number as long as volunteers can come to help.
  As a non-profit organization, we must show that a significant amount
of our income comes from many different contributors. For us to do
more, we must raise more money. For example, we plan to apply for
grants to hold a conference on the topic of false allegations that
arise from decades delayed false memories and to invite members of our
growing Scientific and Professional Advisory Board to give papers. We
think that the conference proceedings should be published because
there is a desperate need for scholarly empirical research in this
area. We would like to have the book appear no more than one year from
now. In order receive a significant grant for such a purpose, however,
we need to increase the level of our donations in order to keep
non-profit status.
  Although we can encourage professionals in the field to do research
or hold conferences through traditional academic granting
institutions, this process regularly take from 12 to 18 months from
application to receipt of the grant. If we can raise the money, we can
work far faster because we do not have a bureaucracy.
  We thank each and every family and each and every understanding
non-accused person who has been able to make an additional
contribution. Because this is so important, we know that you will
continue to do what you can. 

                          IMPORTANT RESEARCH

  Many of our children told us that they knew they were abused because
of their adult symptoms such as multiple personality disorder, eating
disorders or "postsexual abuse syndrome." The following three
abstracts present important evidence that such notions may be
simplistic and in the realm of pop-psychology. They do not appear to
be supported by careful research.

  Joseph H. Beitchman, Kenneth J. Zucker, Jane E. Hood, Granville
  A. DaCosta, Donna Akman & Erika Cassavia
  Child Abuse & Neglect, Vol. 16 pp 101-118, 1992.

Abstract - The existing literature on the long-term sequelae of child
sexual abuse is reviewed. The evidence suggests that sexual abuse is
an important problem with serious long-term sequelae; but the specific
effects of sexual abuse, independent of force, threat of force, or
such family variables as parental psychopathology, are still to be
clarified. Adult women with a history of childhood sexual abuse show
greater evidence of sexual disturbance or dysfunction, homosexual
experiences in adolescence or adulthood, depression, and are more
likely than nonabused women to be revictimized. Anxiety, fear, and
suicidal ideas and behavior have also been associated with a history
of childhood sexual abuse but force and threat of force may be a
necessary concomitant. As yet, there is insufficient evidence to
confirm a relation between a history of childhood sexual abuse and a
postsexual abuse syndrome and multiple or borderline personality
disorder. Male victims of child sexual abuse show disturbed adult
sexual functioning. The relation between age of onset of abuse and
outcome is still equivocal. Greater long-term harm is associated with
abuse involving a father or stepfather and abuse involving
penetration. Longer duration is associated with greater impact, and
the use of force or threat of force is associated with greater harm.

  Harrison G. Pope, Jr., M.D. & James I. Hudson, M.D.
  American Journal of Psychiatry 149:4, April 1992

Objective: It is of considerable theoretical and clinical importance
to assess whether childhood sexual abuse is a risk factor for the
development of bulimia nervosa. The authors reviewed the scientific
literature bearing on this issue. Method: Since prospective studies on
this question have not been done, they assessed 1) controlled
retrospective studies comparing the prevalence of childhood sexual
abuse among bulimic and control groups, 2) uncontrolled retrospective
studies of the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse in samples of 10
or more bulimic subjects, and 3) studies of the prevalence of
childhood sexual abuse in the general population, which were chosen to
match as closely as possible in methodology the available studies of
bulimia nervosa (i.e., in geographic location, age and ethnicity of
subjects, interview method, and criteria for defining childhood sexual
abuse). Results: controlled studies generally did not find that
bulimic patients show a significantly higher prevalence of childhood
sexual abuse than control groups, especially when allowance is made
for possible methodologic effects. Furthermore, neither controlled nor
uncontrolled studies of bulimia nervosa found higher rates of
childhood sexual abuse than were found in studies of the general
population that used comparable methods. When it is taken into
consideration that several methodologic factors might have exaggerated
the rates of childhood sexual abuse among subjects with bulimia
nervosa relative to rates in the general population, the absence of
actual observed differences becomes particularly striking.
Conclusions: Current evidence does not support the hypothesis that
childhood sexual abuse is a risk factor for bulimia nervosa.

  Judith A. Martin & Elizabeth Elmer
  Child Abuse & Neglect, Vol. 16 pp 75-87, 1992

Abstract - Despite intensive research interest, the field of child
abuse has produced few long-term follow-up studies. This paper
describes the adult functioning of a group of 19 individuals who were
severely battered as young children. Results indicate highly variable
outcomes for the group. Some individuals exhibited limited autonomy
and few adult coping skills while others were raising families,
holding jobs, and maintaining functional social ties. There was little
evidence of overt aggression in the group but resentment and
suspiciousness scores were high. Many subjects maintained ties with
their troubled parents while others sought out birth parents after
losing contact with them in childhood. Several had developed long-term
stable marriages, and social supports appeared adequate for most
subjects in the group. Overall, study findings indicate that early
abusive trauma and adult functioning have no simple relationship.

                       QUESTIONS YOU HAVE ASKED

  We have been told by every professional with whom we have consulted
that it is highly probably that our children believe what they are
saying. None of us really knows for sure what has happened to so alter
their belief systems, but the fact remains that it is unlikely that
our children are lying. They have somehow become convinced of the
truth of the horrible things that they say.

  We cannot give advice about how to proceed in any particular
instance. Our job is to make every effort to disseminate accurate
information and on these matters there is no body of literature that
provides advice. We are the ones who are learning what do to. The
general advice that has been recommended by the majority of therapists
with whom we have consulted is to a) make every effort to keep in
contact with our children and b) to tell them truthfully that we love
them and that we would welcome them back in our lives but that we do
not believe the "recovered memories." We intend to do a follow up to
the survey to clarify issues that are raised by the results. Perhaps a
questions about whether parents told their children about Foundation
activities should be included.

  From the Oxford English Dictionary (1987 Supplement): Induced
unintentionally by a physician or his diagnosis, manner, or treatment;
or of pertaining to the induction of (mental or bodily) disorders,
symptoms, etc., in this way.

  Our definition of "pedophile" a few weeks ago was simplistic. Until
recently, the term was reserved for psychological or psychiatric
diagnoses and in that context it has an extensive technical
definition. In recent years, however, the press has begun to use the
word as synonymous with "child abuse." For a complete technical
definition, you should consult the DSM-III-R. In general, for most of
us it will suffice to keep in mind that the word is a diagnostic term
and not a legal one. As with any word for which the breadth of the
definition is changing, we need to keep in mind the context in which
it is used in order to understand its meaning.

                          MEETINGS SCHEDULED

SOUTHERN California
Thursday, May 7, 1992
7:00 P.M.
Contact Doug Wilson 619-943-7572

Saturday, May 9, 1992
1:00 P.M.
Same location as past meetings. 
 Call office if you need a map.
Committee Updates
Guest Speaker

Saturday, May 16, 1992
1:00 P.M.
Contact 800-374-7477

Saturday, June 6, 1992
Details to follow

Saturday, June 13, 1992
1:00 P.M.

Meeting Report
  More than 60 people attended the Midwest Area meeting on Saturday,
April 25, 1992. in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Lynn told us what it was
like to have abuse memories and then to realize that they were
false. The Barrs related how it feels to learn of the accusations by
hearing it on the network news. Darryl discussed how the current
phenomenon of false memories is similar to and different from
traditional cult patterns. Everyone shared information and articles
with each other.
  * Tapes were made of selected parts of the meeting. One of the
parents will provide copies for $5 a tape or $20 for the complete set
of four. To order these tapes, please send a check made out to FMS
Foundation, 3508 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 .

This address and the phone numbers have changed as of July 15, 2000

                         RECOMMENDED READING

  Hidden Memories by Robert Baker, Promethium Press.

                       "FALSE MEMORY SYNDROME"
                     TAKING ITS TOLL ON FAMILIES

                          By Michael Morris
                           Managing Editor
                         UTAH COUNTY JOURNAL
                            April 21, 1992
                      Reprinted with permission

  (Editor's Note: This is the first of two stories on what is called
  "false memory syndrome" -- "remembering" events, through
  psychotherapy, that didn't actually happen.)

  PROVO -- "John" misses his grandchildren.
  He misses their smiling faces, their playful natures and their
friendship. He misses their letters and their phone calls. Most of
all, he misses their love.
  In retrospect, he calls his relationship with his children and
grandchildren a healthy one. Like all families they had their
problems, but their lives, for the most part, were happy.
  That all changed when accusations, based on "memories" retrieved
with help from psychotherapists, started a year ago. John hasn't seen
his grandchildren since.
  His case is not an isolated one. In preparing this story the Journal
spoke with members of five local families who have been scarred by
what is being called "false memory syndrome."
  Pamela Freyd, executive director of the newly formed False Memory
Syndrome Foundation in Philadelphia, said hundreds, perhaps thousands,
of families across the country are grappling with fallout from false
memories of sexual abuse brought on by psychotherapy.
  "We kind of knew there was a problem, but the scope of it is
mind-boggling even to people who have been working in the field," she
said. "People need to understand how devastated parents have been by
all this."
  Freyd said the FMS Foundation was formed to address the problem,
which is leaving an increasing number of adults believing that they
suffer from "repressed memories" of childhood incest and sexual abuse.
The foundation has set up a toll-free number (1-800-568-8882) for
those who want to know more about false memory syndrome.
  "While some reports of incest and sexual abuse are surely true,
these decade-delayed memories are too often the result of false memory
syndrome caused by a disastrous therapeutic program," Freyd said.
  In addition to trying to aid false memory victims and their
families, the FMS Foundation is working to prevent new cases of false
memory by informing the mental health community, legal profession,
media and public "that a serious health crisis exists."
  In John's case, "There was no hint of any impropriety in my life
until a year ago. I've done everything to prove it's a total and
complete fabrication and that still isn't enough. It's worse than
death. I've lost my whole family, and I'm probably going to lose my
  When one of John's daughters, "Jan," started seeing a
psychotherapist several years ago for depression, he didn't give it a
second thought.  Nor was he concerned when she started sending her two
daughters. It wasn't long before a third granddaughter, feeling left
out, also wanted to join her cousins in therapy.
  Shortly thereafter, the stories began.
  Jan began remembering that she was sexually abused by a neighbor
when she was little. A short time later, one of John's granddaughters
started making accusations of sexual abuse against former baby sitters
and against a high school coach.
  One of the psychotherapists who became involved with John's family,
according to findings by 3rd District Court Judge J. Dennis Frederick
in a previous sex abuse case, "has a reputation for incompetence in
the psychotherapeutic community for the manner in which she conducts
child sex abuse therapy and/or examinations." Her techniques,
Frederick said, are "leading and suggestive."
  David Raskin, psychology professor at the University of Utah, said
irresponsible psychotherapy is "a combination of overzealousness, poor
training, lack of knowledge of the literature, and a personal agenda.
I think a lot of people can end up believing these false memories."
  The psychotherapists involved with John's children and
grandchildren, he said, "are the worst in the state of Utah." He said
they offer therapy for imaginary problems that they often help create.
  "In the long run they (patients) have been very much disserved.
They've been dealt with, basically, incompetently and fraudulently,"
Raskin said. "They are going to end up in much more serious condition
sometime in the future, and their family will be destroyed in the
  In the case of John's granddaughter, evidence against the coach and
baby sitters proved insufficient to merit arrests or charges.
Psychotherapy, however continued. Acting on additional retrieved
"memories," John's children and their families began meeting and
discussing allegations that Jan and the granddaughters then began to
make against John.
  "My son called up and wanted me to meet with them," John said. "He
said there was going to be a change in his life. When we arrived, we
went downstairs and the whole family was there."
  John was not prepared for what followed. 
  "I was supposed to have abused my four daughters and I was supposed
to have abused my granddaughters. I thought they were kidding," he said.
"I was supposed to have raped all 16 of my grandchildren. They started
making demands, and it just turned to pandemonium."
  John tried to stop the accusations by hiring an attorney and
scheduling a polygraph test. Following a meeting with John's
daughters, the attorney wrote John the following note: "The most
significant information that resulted from this meeting was that each
of your daughters present stated she was convinced you had molester
her while she was living in your home, but that none of them had a
specific recall of what you did, when you did it or where you did it."
  Detailed charges, and further accusations involving John's brother
and father, came later only after continued therapy and the recall of
more memories.
  Raskin said he has no doubts that John is telling the truth when he
denies having committed any abuse. Raskin, who has more than 10 years
experience studying sexual-abuse interview techniques and their effect
on memory, is also an authority on polygraph examinations.
  While a score of 15 would indicate a truthful response, John's score
of 23 indicated a "a very, very strong positive" score, said Raskin,
who administered the test.
  In a letter to John's attorney, Raskin said: "On the basis of the
polygraph examination, it is my professional opinion that (John) was
truthful when he denied having engaged in any type of sexual act with
any of his children or grandchildren."
  After researching the allegations and lack of physical evidence
against John, authorities refused to file charges. Some of John's
children, however, persisted. With prodding from psychotherapists,
they attributed John's high polygraph score to a multiple personality.
The Western Institute of Neuropsychiatry in Salt Lake City, however,
examined John last August and found "that there is no evidence...that
he suffers from multiple personality disorder."
  Despite John's efforts to prove his innocence, many family members
still refuse to doubt the veracity of their recently discovered
memories. One granddaughter, after being convinced that her
grandfather had raped her, tried to commit suicide.
  "There wasn't any problem until the psychotherapist started to
mangle her mind," John said. "This devastation is unbelievable. The
real culprits in this thing are the therapists. Once this stuff gets
in their heads, it's more real than if it actually happened."
  Randy Draper, director of psychiatric services at Holy Cross
Hospital, calls it an old problem. "Freud himself confronted it
decades ago. Patients come up with fantasizing or recollections of
abuse or sex with one or the other parents," he said.
  "Personally, I think that the counseling industry, if you want to
call it that -- the therapist group -- does facilitate wild and
inappropriate accusations and creates a lot of problems that otherwise
wouldn't be there. There are a few therapists, who seem to be prone to
elaboration on problems rather than resolving them."
  Like professionals in any field, Draper said, psychotherapists can
be good or bad, competent or incompetent, informed or uninformed.
  "I don't think you can know in advance that a therapist won't be
inclined to start asking question that might cause somebody to
remember things that didn't happen," he said.
  "When people are sick or ill, or getting married or divorced, or
grieving or rejoicing, they certainly are more susceptible to
suggestion. My observation is that people who are prone to believe in
such things also tend to seek out therapists who are prone to believe
in such things. It's a grey area and the facts of the matter are
often not obtainable. So it may be a collusion of sorts. Therapists
may be biased because they get paid, and some of them have their own
  For John, "False abuse, as far as I know, is far more destructive
than real abuse. It would be nice if I had abused somebody so I could
apologize for it and we could get on with our lives -- not nice, but
it would be nicer."


                          By Michael Morris
                           Managing Editor
                         UTAH COUNTY JOURNAL
                            April 24, 1992
                      Reprinted with permission

  PROVO -- Utah County Attorney Kay Bryson remembers the days when
child sexual-abuse investigations were so few in number that each case
was discussed in staff meetings.
  That was five years ago.
  "There are so many cases coming into this office every day now that
that's impossible." Bryson said. "It just doesn't happen that way
anymore, where everybody participates in the prosecution of that kind
of crime."
  With child abuse and neglect cases numbering nearly 2,000 in Utah
county during each of the past two years, Bryson calls the problem
staggering. Sexual abuse, he said, "is the crime that causes us the
greatest stress."
  Nationally, reported cases of neglect and abuse numbered 60,000 in
1973 compared to approximately 2.5 million cases last year.
Compounding the growing problem of abuse, according to BYU psychology
professor Robert J. Howell, is the fact that many reported cases of
neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse prove to be unfounded or
  "You're talking about over 1 million false or unfounded cases" each
year in the United States, said Howell, whose specialty is forensic
psychology. The Denver-based American Humane Association estimates
that unsubstantiated or false accusations run as high as 60 percent
-- up from 35 percent in 1976.
  "The problem is that we don't have specific, good techniques to
arrive at conclusions. Even the physical exams are not nearly as
accurate as we once thought they were. We know that kids are being
abused," but, Howell added, there's also a growing propensity for
false accusations -- many of which are sparked by child-custody
battles, messy divorces and "false memory syndrome."
  In Utah, the problem of "remembering" fictitious events with the
help of a therapist has sparked so much concern that members of the
LDS Church were warned about it during the church's recent semiannual
  "Detailed, leading questions that probe your past may unwittingly
trigger thoughts that are more imagination or fantasy than reality.
They could lead to condemnation of another for acts that were not
committed," said Elder Richard G. Scott, a member of the church's
Quorum of Twelve Apostle.
  "While likely few in number, I know of cases where such therapy has
caused great injustice to the innocent from unwittingly stimulated
accusations that were later proven false. Memory, particularly adult
memory of childhood experience is fallible."
  Psychologist Ralph Underwager agrees.
  Underwager and his wife, Hollida Wakefield, publish a journal
titled Issues in Child Abuse Accusations and are the authors of
Accusations of Child Sex Abuse -- a text Howell uses in one of his BYU
classes. Howell said Underwager, who founded the Institute for
Psychological Therapies in 1972 in Northfield, Minn. produces "very
good work."
  Underwager, a psychotherapist for 30 years, blames false memory
syndrome on two factors: psychotherapists who are guilty of
malpractice, and the growing inclination of people to blame their
problems on someone else.
  "Being victims is the most popular sport in America today," he told
the Journal in a telephone interview. "What we have is far more
reporting (of abuse), and we have a system that is so focused on
proving that there is abuse that we have more and more false
  Underwager said many psychotherapists believe in "recovered,
repressed memories" and in the claims of those who "retrieve" such
memories through psychotherapy. One of the leaders, Roland Summit, for
example, claims that memory of abuse is often buried within a
conscious memory of a happy childhood and that half of all women are
sexually abused as children.
  Underwager, however, says such claims lack scientific support.
Studies show that memory, especially of early childhood, is more
reconstruction than recall. As a fluid process, he said, memory and
the ability to reconstruct memory is contingent upon one's current
state of mind, beliefs and circumstances.
  "Our recall is often organized in ways that 'make sense' of the
present -- thus reinforcing our belief in the conclusions we have
reached about how the past has determine the present," writes Robyn
Dawes in Rational Choice in an Uncertain World. "We quite literally
'make up stories' about our lives, the world, and reality in general.
The fit between our memories and the stories enhances our belief in
them. Often, however, it is the story that creates the memory, rather
than vice versa."
  Underwager and his wife are conducting research for the newly formed
False Memory Syndrome Foundation based in Philadelphia
(1-800-568-8882). They hope to find out what happens to people when
they are falsely accused of abuse and what factors may be contributing
to false memory. They are also gathering data on a group of women "who
were involved in therapy programs that elicited such memories, but
then came out it and they now know that these things never occured,
that the therapist taught them to have these kinds of memories."
  Underwager decries the Freudian model of "a brain which stores all
experiences in which therapy is seen as a process of uncovering lost or
repressed memories, thus freeing patients from their autonomous and
sublimated influence." Verbal description of memories, essential to
much of contemporary therapies, compounds the process of distinguishing
between memories of real and imagined events, he said.
  "There is an awful lot of bad psychotherapy out there. When you have
a situation where a person has no recollections, no recall, but had
some kind of trouble or problem or unhappiness, and they go to a
therapist and recover a memory, it's common sense to realize that the
therapy caused the memory," he said.
  "There is no evidence whatsoever to support that this, in fact, is
how the mind works. Repression is a Freudian concept. It has no
scientific support. And every time it is tested, it falls flat on its
face. There is, however, what we call 'traumatic amnesia,' and that is
for one single, highly traumatic experience. There are some people who
do have amnesia for that event and for things that occurred
immediately before it. It is not repression, and it is not for acts
that are repeated."
  But episodes of amnesia caused by dissociation, according to J.F.
Schumaker in Repression and Dissociation, "tend to be rare and of
short duration."
  University of Utah psychology professor David Raskin supports that
assertion. Raskin, a recognized authority on interview techniques and
their effect on memory, said, "Even a single serious event would be
recalled typically. People assume that there's a kind of trauma that
would cause amnesia, which is typically not present. It's a myth. it's
mainly hocus-pocus."
  He said many in the psychotherapy field, however, are unwilling to
admit or curb falsehoods in the profession.
  "The kind of abuse that one gets for speaking out as a scientist and
as a reasonable professional is not pleasant. Many people, therefore,
are unwilling to speak out, especially because it threatens their
livelihood. If they speak out and get ostracized from the
(professional) community, then their practice goes to hell. I don't
  Raskin praised Underwager for "knowing the literature very well. If
you take the well-trained people who know the field and know the
literature, they will tell you what I have told you," he said, adding
that the training and scientific attitude among some therapists is so
lacking that many "haven't the foggiest idea" of what is and isn't
  "How they got Ph.D.s is a disgrace. The whole field of clinical
psychology and applied psychology, social work and the related
disciplines has gone downhill in the last 10-20 years. Social work was
never there. These people have no business being in that endeavor," he
  "You get all these weak people gathering together, talking to each
other, promoting folklore and mythology, never having understood
science. They are the people, unfortunately, who are doing this, There
are more and more of them. They are doing extreme destruction to
families, to children, to their relatives, to their parents, to
society. It's frightening."
  Too often, Raskin said, people with problems end up worse off
after they've been with a poor therapist, a hypnotist or other
"do-good" people.
  "They go to one of these hokey-pokey therapists and the therapist
says, 'Oh, the reason you're depressed is something terrible must have
happened to you as a child.' And they start working on them. 'Do you
remember anything?' Did your father ever do _this_ to you?' After
working on them for a awhile, they get them to start thinking about
that, and they say, 'Well, we know that when a person acts like this,
it usually is caused by that kind of experience. It will come to you a
little bit at a time. You'll be able to tell by these feelings you
have. And if you have those feelings, then you were abused,'" Raskin
  "That's how they work on them. Some of them fall quickly while
others take a long time. you have probably thousands of therapists
around the country who believe in all of this garbage. They are
perpetrating a fraud and a myth and a very dangerous set of attitudes
on the public."
  He attributes the similarity in stories among people suffering from
false memory syndrome to the fact that they "all read the same
'bible,' and they go to the same set of incompetent, poorly trained
therapists, and they all approach it the same way. If you don't have a
memory, then you need someone to help you out."
  The "bible," Raskin said, is a book titled The Courage to Heal,which
an increasing number of psychotherapists are recommending to their
female patients.
  He said the book, written by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis, offers lots
of anecdotes but little science. In the introductory chapter, Bass
admits, "I am not academically educated as a psychologist. I have
acquired counseling skills primarily through practice. None of what is
presented here is based on psychological theories."
    Rather than promote healthy healing based on scientific research,
Underwager said, The Courage to Heal "encourages revenge, anger,
fantasies of murder or castration, lawsuits and deathbed
confrontations." He said those who really wish to be healed of abuse
should avoid psychotherapists who recommend the book.
  Said Raskin: "It's frightening that you have somebody who is a
writer teaching English courses (Bass) who now becomes the foremost
expert helping women to remember these things, and having workshops
and doing therapy. It is an extremely dangerous book. I suspect
hundreds of thousands of copies have been sold. It is the blueprint."
  Raskin and Underwager said people should be careful in selecting a
therapist, and do so only when the need truly exists.
  Meanwhile, Raskin said, "People should start filing lawsuits against
these therapists. What's going to put a damper on this kind of crazy
practice is big lawsuits where there are going to be major damage
suits and awards. Then the insurance companies will start saying,
'Your insurance premiums are going up...until you straighten up your

  /                                                                \
  |                   WHEN CONSIDERING A THERAPIST:                |
  |                                                                |
  | * Find someone with a good reputation                          |
  | * Find someone with a Ph.D. and a license                      |
  | * Check with university psychology departments for suggestions.|
  | * Get multiple evaluations that result in converging opinions. |
  | * Do no seek therapy unless absolutely necessary.              |
  | * Do not use the Yellow Pages.                                 |