FMSF NEWSLETTER ARCHIVE - Fall 2008 - Vol. 17, 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     (e-mail edition)
FALL  2008 Vol. 17 No. 4
      ISSN #1069-0484. Copyright (c) 2008 by the FMS Foundation
The FMSF Newsletter is published 4 times a year by  the  False  Memory
Syndrome Foundation and delivered electronically. It is also available
at on the  FMSF website:  Those without access to
the Internet should contact the Foundation. 
           1955 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-5766
                 Phone 215-940-1040, Fax 215-940-1042
       The next e-mail newsletter will be sent in January 2009

Dear Friends, 

Someday (we dream) there won't be any news for the FMSF Newsletter,
but as we approach the end of 2008, it's obvious that time has not yet
arrived. Battles and skirmishes keep the "memory wars" alive in the
courts, the popular media, and the activities of some professionals.
There are examples of each in this newsletter.

We were taken aback this summer, for example, to learn that
psychiatrist Colin Ross applied for the $1 Million Prize from the
James Randi Foundation. (p. 6) Ross claimed that he could send a beam
of energy from his eyes that would cause a computer to make a sound.
Unfortunately (for Dr. Ross) it was shown that the sound was triggered
by the physical movement of his blinking.

The FMSF newsletter has had numerous stories in the past about 
Dr. Ross because of his support of recovered memories, multiple
personalities, and various conspiracy theories, and because of
lawsuits brought by some of his former patients for false memories. We
must confess that Ross's latest enthusiasm made us laugh, but it also
points out that the lack of a scientific approach underlies both what
went wrong with his eye beam claims and what contributed mightily to
the recovered memory phenomenon.

People have a natural tendency to try to confirm their beliefs, but in
science, however, it is necessary to consider alternative explanations
and test them. If Dr. Ross had simply placed some kind of obstruction
to block the direction of his "eye beam," he would have noticed that
the computer still made a sound -- signaling that the beam could not
be the cause of the sound. If Dr. Ross and the many other therapists
who embraced recovered repressed-memory beliefs with such enthusiasm
had considered alternative explanations rather than rushing to confirm
their beliefs, we might have avoided the recovered-memory fiasco.

Are students preparing for a career in mental health being trained in
a manner that will help avoid past pitfalls? We wish we could report
that things look better for the future. Unfortunately, it appears that
clinical social workers, who comprise the largest number of mental
health providers, are not receiving the necessary training. On page
four, there is information about an article by Monica Pignotti who
reports that the University of Michigan School of Social Work, often
considered the most highly ranked social of social work in the
country, had offered two-day courses in "power therapies" for which
there is no scientific foundation. There is also information about a
survey of mental health training programs in psychology, psychiatry
and social work that is equally discouraging. Over 60 percent of
clinical social work programs do not have a requirement for courses or
supervision in evidence-based practice.

There are many therapists who would like nothing better than to have
the FMS Foundation close its doors. All they need to do is show us
that that time has arrived. When families stop calling with stories of
accusations based on nothing more than claims of repressed memories
recovered in therapy and when the programs that train future
therapists ensure that they are providing a scientific basis for their
courses, FMSF will no longer be needed.

Another fraudulent memoir, Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years, is
further evidence of the misinformation still conveyed in the popular
media (see below). We learned only recently, in fact, that books that
tell shocking stories of abuse, alcoholism, ruined childhoods and
terrible traumas have an especially appropriate name in the publishing
field: "misery memoirs." We had been unaware of the popularity of such
books, which in England have accounted for eight percent of book sales
in recent years. The sheer number of misery memoir hoaxes during the
past 15-20 years seems to speak of some need for people to say that
survival alone is an achievement. The avid response of readers seems
similar to the way that people respond to patients recounting stories
of childhood abuse they discovered in therapy. "Surely no one would
tell such a horrible story if it were not real." As long as the
popular media continues to promote the notions of recovered memories,
the memory wars will drag on and on and on.

FMSF Advisor August Piper, M.D. (see below) points out in a soon to be
published paper that: "the Law has yet to definitively determine
repressed memory's acceptability as a scientifically validated theory
that can legitimately come before a jury." Until it does, attorneys
and courts struggle with accusations of recovered memories of abuse in
spite of the fact that science does not support repressed- and
recovered-memory theory.

Although over the years most of the legal cases we have written in the
newsletter are directly focused on issues of recovered memories, it is
not unusual for some cases to have recovered memories lurking under
other charges. In this issue we report on a legal case in which
recovered memories resulted in a letter written by therapists that has
been considered defamatory and malicious (see below). In the most recent
trial of one of the seven members of the Louisiana Hosanna Church who
were charged with abuse, the "memories" that resulted in the trial
appear to have been elicited not by a therapist but by a woman
described as a cult leader (see below).

The body of scientific papers looking at memory and false memories
continues to grow at a rapid pace (see below). A new British report
about memory points to the importance of corroborating evidence and
the need for experts in court cases to explain the nature of
memory. Piper succinctly summarizes the situation:

  "1.The concepts of repressed and recovered memory are not generally
  accepted in the psychological and psychiatric community; moreover,
  never since these notions first appeared in the literature have they
  won general acceptance by mental health professionals. To this day,
  dissociative amnesia, repression, repressed and recovered memory,
  and their kin remain extremely controversial among psychiatrists and

  "2. The studies cited to support these concepts reveal significant

  "3. Much empirical evidence has been accumulated against the theory
  of repression.

  "4. The studies using the best methodology offer the least support
  for the repression hypothesis.

  "5. There is no evidence that recovered memories accurately reveal
  the specifics of long-ago events."


/                                                                    \
|                           Don't Miss It!                           |
|                                                                    |
|                          TRY TO REMEMBER:                          |
|                                                                    |
|                         Paul McHugh, M.D.                          |
|                     Washington, DC: Dana Press                     |
|                    Publication: November, 2008                     |
|                                                                    |
| (From the jacket of the Uncorrected Reader's Proof.)               |
|                                                                    |
| "This is the absorbing, never-before-told story of how a cult of   |
| Freudian psychiatrists, believers in such dingbat doctrines as     |
| 'multiple personality disorder,' 'dissociative identity disorder,' |
| 'recovered memory,' and 'post-traumatic stress syndrome,' went on  |
| a witch hunt across America eerily similar to the Salem and        |
| medieval European witch hunts of yore, prodding patients, most of  |
| them young women, into fantasies of childhood sexual abuse that    |
| sent their parents off to prison for stretches as long as 20 years |
| -- long before a small band of scientists risked their reputations |
| and livelihoods to expose the cult for what it was: a wacky pack   |
| of quacks."                                                        |
|                 Tom Wolfe, author of The Bonfire of the Vanities   |
|                                                                    |
| One of our country's leading authorities on psychiatry tells the   |
| unforgettable story of how lives can be destroyed by faddish       |
| misdirections of thought and therapeutic practices. His first-hand |
| account begins in the 1990s with his battle against the theory of  |
| "repressed sexual memories" and ends with his concern that         |
| excessive diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder is today     |
| placing many patients in treatments that leave their real mental   |
| troubles untouched. A passionate advocate for the contribution of  |
| psychotherapy to healing, McHugh reaches out to patients,          |
| families, and mental health providers to explain how to work       |
| together toward effective diagnosis and treatment to win the       |
| contest for mental peace.                                          |
|                                                                    |
| Paul R. McHugh, M.D. is the University Distinguished Service       |
| Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of      |
| Medicine. He is the former director of the Department of           |
| Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University |
| School of Medicine and Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Johns Hopkins      |
| Hospital from 1975-2001. He is the author or co-author of five     |
| books, more than 200 professional papers, as well as articles for  |
| the public on psychiatry in the Wall Street Journal, American      |
| Scholar, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Commentary.            |
|                                                                    |
|                   (Dr. McHugh is a member of the                   |
|         FMSF Scientific and Professional Advisory Board.)          |

                  Conway, M.A., Chair. (2008, June)
                  Guidelines on memory and the law:
      Recommendations from the scientific study of human memory.
    Report from the Research Board, British Psychological Society.

Available at:

In July 2008, the British Psychological Society (BPS) released new
guidelines on memory and the law that are based on the many advances
that have been recently made in the scientific understanding of human
memory. The Society hopes that the guidelines will provide police,
attorneys, judges or others involved in legal proceedings with a
rigorous understanding of memory and, thus, a firm basis on which to
make decisions.

Memory researcher Martin Conway, Ph.D. was the Chair of the 15-member
committee that wrote the report. In addition, there were 12 advisors,
including Charles Brainerd, William Brewer, Gail Goodman, FMSF Advisor
Elizabeth Loftus, and Valerie Reyna.

The 35-page report (plus 12 pages of bibliography) contains a one-page
list of the ten key points in the report, followed by the points in
greater detail, including the research on which they are based. The
report does not discuss the recovered-memory debate, but the
information contained is highly relevant to it. In an easily
understandable and concise way, the report summarizes those aspects of
memory on which there is agreement.

An important focus of the report is the many ways in which witness
memories may be flawed and, as a consequence, the authors argue
experts should be used in trials to help avoid wrongful convictions.
They explain the need for experts as follows:

  "The argument here is that as the jurors all have memories, they
  know enough about memory from the experience of their own memories
  to make reliable evaluations of accounts put forward as memories.
  Thus, the argument goes, evaluating a memory is a 'jury matter.' If
  this were the case then there would be little need for the
  scientific study of memory and we would all simply know how our
  memories work, their limitations, properties, and failings. As it is
  so palpably clear that there is no such understanding, then relying
  on uninformed evaluations of memory can only lead to unreliable
  judgements. This report is intended to help by providing those who
  have to make such judgments in criminal and civil proceedings with
  straightforward accounts of scientific findings and thinking about
  the nature of memory and memories." Page 4

The report goes into some detail about who should be considered a
memory expert: "someone whose expertise is recognized by their peers,
i.e. other memory researchers." The report is specific about what does
not constitute evidence of expertise in memory.

  * Being a member of a professional society or societies, no matter
    how exalted, does not of itself make a person a memory expert.

  * Teaching a course or several courses on memory at university or
    elsewhere also does not of itself ensure the required level of

  * Having acted as a memory expert witness in the past doesn't make a
    person a memory expert.

  * Listening, evaluating, interpreting, or advising on accounts of
    memories as part of one's professional activities does not of
    itself necessarily make a person a memory expert.

  * Working in a forensic area does not confer memory expertise.

The sections about children's memory development are concise and
informative. For example:

  "The period from birth to five years is characterized by rapid
  neurological development, especially to those areas of the brain
  that in adulthood will control learning and memory. At the same time
  there is equally rapid acquisition of language, concepts and
  understanding of the world, including social interaction. It is
  important to note that infants and young children have yet to
  acquire many of the concepts familiar to adults, including complex
  emotions such as guilt, embarrassment, and shame. It would therefore
  not be possible for a child younger than five years who lacked, for
  example, the concept of `embarrassment' to have an original memory
  that contained features labeled by the term, although this might of
  course be added later in adulthood, perhaps for purposes of
  `presenting' a memory." Page 14

  "Most people remember little or nothing below the period of three
  years of age, a period which is known as the period of childhood
  amnesia. A few memories can typically be recalled from when the
  individual was aged 3-5 years, and more aged 5-7 years. However, it
  is not until the period of eight years or older that many memories
  can be recalled. And it is not until the age of about eight to 10
  years that memories begin to feature the more typical structure,
  content and organization of adult memories." Page 13

This report is an extremely useful addition to the tools now available
to help attorneys and judges.

Although the few legal citations are British, the explanations of
memory are applicable anywhere. We highly recommend reading this
report, especially as it is available on the web.

      | "Without corroborating evidence, witness testimony    |
      |  based on memory should not be relied on. In many     |
      | legal cases, memory may feature as the main or only   |
      | source of evidence, and it is nearly always critical" |
      |                                       Martin Conway   |

/                                                                    \
|                     SEEING WHAT IS NOT THERE:                      |
|                MEMORY ALONE IS NOT RELIABLE ENOUGH                 |
|                  TO FORM BASIS OF LEGAL DECISIONS                  |
|                    Ost, J. (2008, September 9)                     |
|                Recovering memories that never were                 |
|  Talk presented at the British Association for the Advancement of  |
|     Science Festival of Science, Liverpool, Sept. 6-11, 2008.      |
|                                                                    |
| In 2005, University of Portsmouth psychologist James Ost studied   |
| 300 people's memories of the July bombings in the subway and on a  |
| bus in London. The results showed that 40% of the people claimed   |
| that they had seen the bus explode on television. The problem is   |
| that no television footage of that explosion ever existed. The     |
| research was presented at a science conference in Liverpool.       |
|                                                                    |
| Dr. Ost found that the people who developed false memories were    |
| significantly more fantasy-prone and creative. They had better     |
| imaginative abilities than those who did not claim to have seen    |
| the explosion on television. He said that the results of this      |
| study supported his previous research that showed that some people |
| reported having seen video footage of the moment when Princess     |
| Diana's car crashed. There was no such footage of that tragedy.    |
|                                                                    |
| "Taken as a whole this is further evidence that our memories are   |
| not perfect. They are not like a videotape you can rewind and      |
| replay for perfect recall. Because of this, memory alone is not    |
| reliable enough to form the basis of legal decisions. We find some |
| people are susceptible to fantasy; they are highly prone to        |
| believe they have witnessed something they cannot possibly have    |
| seen. They have fooled themselves into believing they saw things." |
|                                                                    |
|                                 Randerson, J. (2008, September 10) |
|   Study shows how false memories rerun 7/7 film that never existed |
|      The Guardian. Retrieved on 9/15/2008 from |
|                          science/2008/sep/10/humanbehaviour.july 7 |

                         Pignotti, M. (2007)
Questionable interventions taught at top-ranked school of socialwork.
       Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice 5(2), 78-79.

In this short article Monica Pignotti points out that the University
of Michigan School of Social Work, long ranked the number one social
work program in the nation,[1] offered a two-day course in "power
therapies" -- techniques for which there is no scientific foundation.
The 2006 course presented information about Emotional Freedom
Technique, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, Tapas
Acupressure Technique, and Traumatic Incident Reduction. The course
description noted, "These approaches (EFT, EMDR, TAT, and TIR) have
been developed to work with clients who are struggling with the
consequences of traumatic events." The course description claimed,
"These various models are time-limited, supported by empirically based
efficacy studies." With one exception, according to Pignotti, the
claimed supporting references were flawed studies that had not been
published in refereed journals. Pignotti describes the supporting
research that was referenced for each of the techniques, explaining
the flaws. Pignotti concludes:

"These courses, along with recent empirical evidence (Weissman et al.,
2006)[2] that 61.7% of clinical social work programs do not have a
requirement for courses or supervision in evidence-based practice,
indicate that the social work profession has a long way to go when it
comes to implementing evidence-based practice into their graduate
school curricula. Given that clinical social workers comprise the
largest number of mental health providers in the United States
(Weissman et al., 2006), the content and quality of their training
should be of utmost concern to all in the mental health professions
who value a more scientific approach to clinical practice." (p. 79)

[1] U.S. World Report (2008). See:
[2] Weissman, M.M., Verdeli, H., Gameroff, M.J., Bledsoe, S.E.,
    Betts, K., Mufson, L., Fitterling, H., Wickramaratne, P. (2006).
    National survey of psychotherapy training in psychiatry,
    psychology, and social work. Archives of General Psychiatry, 63,
                   Survey of Psychotherapy Training
     Weissman, M.M., Verdeli, H., Gameroff, M.J., Bledsoe, S.E.,
   Betts, K., Mufson, L., Fitterling, H., Wickramaratne, P. (2006)
             National survey of psychotherapy training in
               psychiatry, psychology, and social work.
               Archives of Gen.Psychiatry, 63, 925-934.

Does the three percent of the population in the United States that
receives psychotherapy each year get evidence-based treatment? Sadly,
this study shows that few practitioners base their practice in
therapies that have been shown to be effective in controlled clinical
trials with random assignment. The authors of this survey sought to
determine if programs in psychiatry, psychology (Ph.D. and Psy.D.) and
social work were training their students in evidence-based treatments.

The results showed that "more than 90% of psychiatry training programs
were complying with the new cognitive behavior therapy requirement.
However the 2 disciplines with the most students, professional
clinical psychology (Psy.D.) and social work, "had the largest
percentage of programs (67.3% and 61.7%, respectively) that did not
require a didactic training in any evidence-based therapies.

The authors make the following conclusion: 

  "There is a considerable gap between research evidence for
psychotherapy and clinical training. Until the training programs in
the major disciplines providing psychotherapy increase training in
evidence based therapies, the gap between research evidence and
clinical practice will remain." 

                         Kassin, S.M. (2008)
                          False confessions:
          Causes, consequences, and implications for reform.
     Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17(4), 249-253.

Why would people say they had been abused if it were not true? Why
would people confess to a crime if they had not done it? We know that
these things happen, but it is difficult for most people to really
understand such behavior. We know that 20 to 25% of the exonerations
that have taken place with DNA evidence have involved people who had
confessed to a crime that they did not commit.

Although FMSF families do seem to gain understanding of the reasons
that someone can come to believe in abuse that never happened, many
feel that it is difficult to explain to others who have not been
falsely accused. Even for FMSF families, it is often difficult to
understand how a person could confess to a crime that he or she did
not commit. Of particular concern is the fact that jurors do not
discount confessions even when they are shown evidence that the
confessions have been coerced.

Some people make voluntary false confessions. They do this with no
prompting from police, most often in high-profile cases such as John
Mark Karr who confessed to the murder of JonBenet Ramsey in 2006.
Kassin says that there are several reasons why someone might make such
a false confession: "a pathological need for attention or self-
punishment, feelings of guilt or delusions, the perception of tangible
gain, or the desire to protect someone else."

This new paper, however, is focused on false confessions that are a
consequence of police interrogations. Confessions made in highly
coercive environments may be a consequence of someone who wants to
"escape from a stressful situation, avoid punishment, or gain a
promised or implied reward." Sometimes some vulnerable people who are
put in highly suggestive interrogations not only confess but also
actually come to believe that they committed the crime in question.

Kassin examines why innocent people are interrogated in the first
place, noting that research from around the world had shown that
"people are only about 54% accurate in judging truth and deception"
and that training does not seem to help. In other words, law
enforcement is not especially skillful at differentiating guilty and
innocent suspects.

The author describes research that has shown that some people are at
greater risk for making false confessions. People who are more
compliant in social situations, people who are highly anxious,
fearful, depressed, delusional, mentally retarded or young are all
vulnerable. The author notes that being innocent actually puts a
person at risk. "People who stand falsely accused believe that truth
and justice will prevail and that their innocence is transparent to
others. As a result, they cooperate with police, waive their rights,
and speak freely, often not realizing that they are under suspicion."

A major problem with false confessions is that people accept
confessions at face value. Even when jurors learn that a confession
has been forced and is beyond doubt false, they still tend to make
decisions as if the confession were unquestioned.

Kassin concludes by noting that a number of problems with false
confessions have been identified. He suggests two ways to help solve
these problems. 1) there should be "a greater use of expert witnesses
to educate judges and juries about the psychology of confessions." 
2) police should be required to videotape entire interrogations.

            Piper, A., Lillevik, L., & Kritzer, R. (2008)
              What's wrong with believing in repression?
                  A review for legal professionals.
            To appear: Psychology, Public Policy, and Law.

Does scientific evidence support the idea that people commonly become
unable to remember harrowing events, and then, after a period of
amnesia, "recover" the memory? That is the question at the focus of
this paper by psychiatrist August Piper, attorney Linda Lillevik, and
third-year law student Roxanne Kritzer. Cases involving these notions
continue to move through the courts. Therefore, the authors argue,
there is a real need for judges and attorneys to understand the
research findings showing that the science does not support the theory
of repressed- and recovered-memory. Piper, Lillevik, and Kritzler
believe some courts have tarnished their credibility by giving
"credence to pseudoscience" in decisions accepting the theory of
repressed memory.

The authors examine the literature, especially those papers published
since the 1999 Faigman, Kaye, Saks, and Sanders review that was
critical of repressed and recovered memories. The present paper also
looks at legal decisions reached since 1999, which was the period
after the Piper, Pope and Borowiecki (2000) review of US appellate-
level decisions in recovered-memory cases. The 2000 review found that:

  "Before about 1999, most courts refused to recognize the validity of
  repression, either to justify tolling a statute of limitations, or
  as a scientifically validated theory that can legitimately be
  presented to a jury. They also found that in the great majority of
  appellate-level decisions, the courts refused to accept, either
  explicitly or implicitly, the validity of repressed and recovered
  memory. Moreover, when state Supreme Courts required evidentiary
  hearings on these concepts, in every case they were rejected."

Since 1999, recovered-memory cases have continued to be filed, and
states' decisions have varied. Although Courts continue to evaluate
the acceptance and validity of repressed-memory theory, as of 2008,
"the Law has yet to definitively determine repressed memory's
acceptability as a scientifically validated theory that can
legitimately come before a jury."

This concise paper is in five sections as follows:

1. The concepts of repressed and recovered memory are not generally
accepted in the psychological and psychiatric community; moreover,
never since these notions first appeared in the literature have they
won general acceptance by mental health professionals. To this day,
dissociative amnesia, repression, repressed and recovered memory, and
their kin remain extremely controversial among psychiatrists and

2. The studies cited to support these concepts reveal significant

3. Much empirical evidence has been accumulated against the theory of

4. The studies using the best methodology offer the least support for
the repression hypothesis.

5. There is no evidence that recovered memories accurately reveal the
specifics of long-ago events.

In summary, science does not support repressed- and recovered-memory

  Faigman, D.L., Kaye, D. H., Saks, M. J., & Sanders, J.,
  eds. (1999). Modern Scientific Evidence: the Law and Science of
  Expert Testimony. Volume I, Pocket Part. St. Paul (MIN): West Group,
  pp. 115-155.

  Piper, A., Jr., Pope, H. G., Jr., & Borowiecki, J. J.,
  (2000). Custer's last stand: Brown, Scheflin, and Whitfield's latest
  attempt to salvage "dissociative amnesia." Journal of Psychiatry &
  Law, 28, 149-213.

           | What was hard to bear is sweet to remember. |
           |                             Spanish proverb |


On July 30, 2008, a press release with the following headline started
its spread across the internet.

  "Dallas Psychiatrist's Paranormal Abilities to Be Tested by Noted
  Debunker James Randi. Dr. Colin Ross Can Send a Beam of Energy From
  His Eyes; Aims for $1 Million Prize."[1]

The release explained that Ross could make a tone sound out of a
speaker using nothing but an energy beam that he sent out through his
eyes. He told Dallas author Daniel Rodrique that "with the aid of
special goggles he's assembled using a blue Aqua Sphere swim mask,
electrical wiring and...scraps of tin foil, he can harness the energy
from his eyes and use the energy to play a tone on a computer." A
photo of Dr. Ross and a demonstration of his apparatus appeared the
next day on The Dallas Observer Blog.[2]

Dr. Ross is familiar to many Newsletter readers because of his
promotion of the beliefs of recovered memories and multiple
personality disorder. He is a former president of the International
Society for the Study of Multiple Personality Disorder and
Dissociation and was featured in a highly critical 1993 documentary
produced by the Fifth Estate on CBC.[3] At least two former patients
claimed to have developed false memories during treatment with him and
have brought lawsuits against Dr. Ross.[4]

As described on its website,[5] the purpose of the James Randi
Educational Foundation (JREF) is to provide reliable information about
paranormal claims. The Foundation has offered a one-million dollar
prize to anyone who can show evidence of any paranormal, supernatural,
or occult power or event -- under proper observing conditions. All
tests are designed with the participation and approval of the
applicant. In most cases, the applicant will be asked to perform a
relatively simple preliminary test of the claim. These tests usually
conducted by associates of the JREF. To date no one has passed the
preliminary testing process.

The Colin Ross claim that he can send a beam of energy from his eyes
is on hold for further testing at this time. James Randi asked Yale
University School of Medicine faculty member Steven Novella, MD to
help with the preliminary testing. In an August 20 podcast, Dr.
Novella explained what happened during the testing. He said that most
people make a fairly shoddy connection between cause and effect and
that this was the problem with the Ross claim.[6] Novella said that
Ross was using Electroencephalography (EEG) electrodes and software in
conjunction with the glasses he designed.[7] Novella said that he had
done extensive research involving EEG and he knew that there is a
known EEG effect, an artifact of eye blinking. Dr. Novella noticed
that Ross's blinks and the sound were associated. It was the eye
movement that was causing the sound. When this association was pointed
out to him, Ross said that he would do more work to eliminate the

Perhaps Ross could have saved himself some embarrassment if he had
been more familiar with the scientific process and had conducted a few
tests of his own. Dr. Novella pointed out that if Ross had taken the
simple step of placing some kind of barrier to break the beam, he
would have discovered that the computer still made a sound and that
this would have informed Ross that it was not the beam from his eyes
that was the cause of the sound.

If Ross had done a bit more research in the literature, he might have
avoided the awkward situation that emerged. For example, in 2002, the
flagship publication of the American Psychological Association, the
American Psychologist published an article entitled "Fundamentally
Misunderstanding Visual Perception: Adults' Belief in Visual
Emissions."[8] The article summarizes a tremendous amount of the
research in the area and points out how traditional education has
failed to overcome the misconception that the eyes emit energy. Ross
is clearly a victim of that misconception.

[1] Keeney, D. (2008, July 30). Press Release. Retrieved on 8/3/2008
    from MarketWire at
[2] Rodrigue, D. (2008, August 1). Colin Ross has an eyebeam of energy
    he'd like you to hear. Retrieved from The Dallas Observer Blog on
    8/10/08 from
[3] Woods, T. (Producer) (1993, November 9). Mistaken identities.
    Fifth Estate, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
[4] Tyo v. Ash, et al and Colin Ross, District Court, Dallas Co.,
    Texas, No. DV98-3843 Hart v. Ross, Manitoba Court of Queen's
    Bench, File No. CI-94-01-79802
[6] Novella, S. (2008, August 20). Special report: JREF Psychic
    challenge report. Retrieved on 8/25/08 from Skeptics Guide to the
    Universe Podcast #161 at
[7] An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that measures and records
    the electrical activity of your brain. Special sensors
    (electrodes) are attached to your head and hooked by wires to a
    computer. The computer records your brain's electrical activity on
    the screen or on paper as wavy lines.
[8] Winer, G.A., Cottrell, J.E., Gregg, V., Fournier, J.S., Bica,
    L.A. (2002, June/July). Fundamentally misunderstanding visual
    perception: Adults' belief in visual emissions. American
    Psychologist, 57 (6/7), 417-424.

/                                                                    \
| 'I have done that,' says my memory. 'I cannot have done that' --   |
| says my pride, and remains adamant. At last -- memory yields.'     |
|                                                                    |
| "The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times    |
| the same good things for the first time."                          |
|                                                Friedrich Nietzsche |

                          MEMORY CONFORMITY:
                French, L., Garry, M., Mori, K. (2008)
       You say tomato? Collaborative remembering leads to more
       false memories for intimate couples than for strangers.
                       Memory, 16(3), 262-273.

People who observe the same event often recall different aspects of
it. French et al. note: "We do not take in everything we see; we
rarely remember everything we take in; and we often cannot describe
everything we have remembered. Furthermore, memory is often goal
driven, so that people frequently talk about events in a way that
reflects their goals, rather than accurately reflecting their memory."
What happens when two people talk about an event they have both seen?
Does it matter whether we talk about an event with a stranger or a
romantic partner? That is the question that French and colleagues
sought to answer.

Previous research has shown that when people see slightly different
versions of an event and then talk about it together, they later
remember seeing things that their partner mentioned which they
themselves had never seen. This finding is of concern in legal
situations in which witnesses may talk to each other. Indeed, French
et al. report that a recent Australian survey confirms that 86% of
witnesses to significant events such as a crime or accident reported
that they discussed the event with another witness.

The researchers observed that there was no information about the
relationship between the witnesses who spoke to each other. They
wanted to learn whether romantic partners would influence each other's
memories more than strangers. Studying romantic partners is a way to
look at the effects of social factors based on familiarity, trust and
respect. There is evidence from research in social psychology to
predict that people might consider that a romantic partner was more
credible than a stranger.

There were sixty-four participants in the study, 16 romantic couples
and 16 pairs of strangers. The pairs watched slightly different
versions of a movie and then discussed some details from the movie but
not others. Later, the participants were more accurate at remembering
non-discussed details than they were the discussed details because
they incorrectly reported information from their partners. The
participants who discussed events with a romantic partner were far
more likely to report false memories.

The researchers discussed the benefits that could come to memory when
people discussed events, pointing out that they had examined
misinformation. It's entirely possible that under certain
circumstancers someone could become more correct about what happened
during an event by talking to another person. The problem is that in
court cases there are often multiple witnesses who know each other and
have opportunity to talk together. They may develop very consistent
stories as a result of conversations and this very consistency --
whether an accurate account of the events or not -- may boost their
confidence. Jurors may be swayed by confidence and consistency.

    | "Our memories are card indexes consulted and then returned |
    | in disorder by authorities whom we do not control."        |
    |                                             Cyril Connolly |

                         UPDATE FROM NORWAY:
   University of Oslo Awards Elizabeth Loftus an Honorary Doctorate
                          Mona Hide Klausen

In early September 2008, the University of Oslo awarded an honorary
doctorate to FMS Foundation Scientific Advisor, Elizabeth Loftus,
Distinguished Professor of Social Ecology at the University of
California Irvine, for her achievements in the study of memory --
specifically the malleable nature of the human mind. The University of
Oslo grants honorary doctorates in recognition of outstanding work
furthering the scientific endeavor. Loftus has previously received
five other honorary degrees.[1]

Hundreds of faculty, students, law enforcement officers, and
clinicians attended "Illusions of Memory," a three-hour lecture given
by Dr. Loftus. It was an inspiring talk because Dr. Loftus is so
passionate about her work -- even after so many years. It goes without
saying that the research is also fascinating.

I hope that people paid attention to her lecture because the recovered
memory movement appears to be alive and well in Norway. In fact, a
faculty member at the university recently published an article
describing one of her patients who had five alters. In an effort to
draw more attention to the problems of recovered memories, the
Psychological Student Network has organized a "theme week" about false
memories in the week following the presentation to Dr. Loftus.

[1] 1982 from Miami University (Ohio); 1990 from Leiden University in
    the Netherlands; 1994 from the John Jay College of Criminal
    Justice in New York; 1998 University of Portsmouth in England;
    2005 University of Haifa in Israel.

                          Estrade, P. (2008)
          You are what you remember: A pathbreaking guide to
       understanding and interpreting your childhood memories.
                Philadelphia, PA: Perseus Books Group.
               (This book was translated from the 2006
             French edition published by Robert Laffont)

Patrick Estrade is a French psychologist and psychotherapist whose
newest pop psychology book has recently been translated into English.
It is doubtful that FMSF Newsletter readers will find much to favor in
this book, even though the author does, in places, have some correct
information about memory. Unfortunately, the problems of the book
outweigh the good points.

For example, on page 132 he writes: "When we're dealing with memories,
the 'truth' is unimportant." On pages 148-150 in a section called
"Memory, sexual abuse and incest," he promotes the book Toxic Parents,
by Susan Forward.[1] He says the book offers a "particularly effective
technique to help heal from the "incest wound." The technique is to
write a letter to the aggressor and should have four parts:

* This is what you did to me.
* This is how I felt then.
* This is the effect it's had on my life.
* This is what I expect from you now.

Need more be said?

[1] Forward, S. (1989). Toxic Parents: Overcoming their hurtful legacy
    and reclaiming your life. New York: Bantam Books.

/                                                                    \
| "Every second of every day we are besieged by trillions of bits of |
| sensory data. Most of it simply bypasses the memory banks and      |
| heads straight for the great sea of oblivion. If it didn't our     |
| heads would soon bulge out to one side and then burst.             |
|                                                                    |
| "Apparently the short-term memory, even when in mid-season form,   |
| can only hand on to about half a dozen separate bits of stuff.     |
|                                                                    |
| "Permanently excluded from that half dozen are the name of the     |
| person you've just been introduced to and where you put your       |
| glasses. But at least the short-term memory is honest. What little |
| it hangs on to is by and large true.                               |
|                                                                    |
| "The long-term memory is a lot more capacious but a lot less       |
| honest. It works like a Marxist historian. It revises the past."   |
|                                                                    |
|                                   Bennett, J. (2008, September 10) |
|                                      When truth gives up the ghost |
|                                 Dominion Post. Retrieved on 9/11/0 |

                            FATHER MacRAE
        A Reminder That There Are Still Many People in Prison
           Based Only on Accusations of Recovered Memories

Although there is no doubt of the Catholic Church's irresponsible
handling of thousands of reports of clergy abuse, there are also a
growing number of cases in which priests appear to have been wrongly
convicted. The case of Rev. Gordon MacRae, which was detailed by
Dorothy Rabinowitz in 2005 in the Wall Street Journal,[1] appears to
be one of them.

In May 1993, Rev. Gordon MacRae was arrested for sexually assaulting
three New Hampshire boys when he had been a priest there a decade
earlier. The early 1990s were heydays for accusations of sexual abuse
based on new-found memories and just about everything that could go
wrong for the defense did go wrong. Among the problems was a letter
from Florida informing local police that MacRae was a suspect in a
murder/sex crime there. This was the final bit of tinder for a hyper-
zealous detective who then repeatedly interviewed many young people
who knew MacRae and even attempted a series of "stings." By the time
that the Florida case was declared bogus, there was no stopping the
effort to convict MacRae.

Prosecutors offered various plea arrangements to MacRae, who is
serving a life term, but he refused them all, declaring his innocence.
Indeed, Fr. MacRae would have been released after one to three years
if he had taken a plea or would have been released on parole if he
confessed. (The "Catch-22" of prison is that those who do not admit
guilt will not receive parole.)

At the criminal trial, witness Thomas Grover's testimony verged on the
bizarre. He had accused MacRae of abusing him during counseling
sessions. When asked why he continued to go to the sessions, Grover
explained that he had 'out of body' experiences and completely forgot
between sessions that he had ever been sodomized.

Even the judge's rulings appeared biased. According to Rabinowitz:

  "Throughout his testimony, [accuser] Thomas Grover repeatedly railed
  at the priest for forcing him to endure the torments of a trial. He
  would not have much to fear, in the end, in these proceedings, whose
  presiding judge, Arthur D. Brennan, refused to allow into evidence
  Thomas Grover's long juvenile history of theft, assault, forgery and
  drug offenses. In New Hampshire, where juries need only find the
  accuser credible in sex abuse cases, with no proofs required, this
  was no insignificant restriction. The judge also took it upon
  himself to instruct jurors to "disregard inconsistencies in Mr.
  Grover's testimony," and said that they should not think him
  dishonest because of his failure to answer questions. The jury had
  much to disregard."

To read more about this case:

[1] Rabinowitz, D. (2005, April 27). A priest's story: Not all
    accounts of sex abuse in the Catholic Church turn out to be
    true. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved on 4/30/05 from

/                                                                    \
| "If memory is the diary we carry about, then it is likely to       |
| include truths, halftruths, gaps and falsities."                   |
|                                                                    |
|  "Like true memories, false memories can be held with great        |
|  confidence, can be detailed, can be vivid, can have behavioral    |
|  consequences, and can even be emotionally rich. But the fact that |
|  a particular memory is confidently held, detailed, vivid,         |
|  consequential or emotional, or even all of these, cannot          |
|  guarantee that the memory is real"                                |
|                                  Wade, K.A. & Laney, C. (2008) |
|                                Time to rewrite your autobiography? |
|                                  The Psychologist, 21 (7), 588-592 |

                       L E G A L   C O R N E R

           Grandparents Obtain Confidential Medical Records

In August, 2008, grandparents Josephine A. and Lucian C. Parlato, of
Amherst, New York, finally succeeded in winning a court order
compelling Maria T. Cartagena, M.D. a local psychiatrist, and James 
A. Brigante, CSW-R, a social worker, to turn over to them the medical
records pertaining to the care and treatment of Josephine's daughter,
Jodi M. Gburek. The Parlatos originally asked the New York State
Supreme Court, Erie County, for such "discovery" as far back as
September 2005.

Lucian C. Parlato, who is an attorney and has been representing his
wife and himself in legal proceedings in several New York courts going
back to March 2002, said that the medical records prove that Dr.
Cartagena and Mr. Brigante deliberately fabricated a lurid tale of
childhood sexual abuse in order to abet Jodi Gburek's effort to
prevent the grandparents from seeing her son Shane.

>From his birth in 1991, Shane lived in his grandparents' Amherst, New
York residence for six years while his mother coped with a bad
marriage and other problems. Before Jodi moved to Florida in 1993 for
six months, she went to court to have the grandparents appointed as
custodians of her infant son.

In 1998, Jodi remarried, and she moved to her new home near the
Parlato's in Amherst. Shane, however, continued to enjoy liberal
visitation with his grandparents, who played an active and loving role
in his life until September 2001. At that time, Jodi Gburek, who had
been a patient for some time of Dr. Cartagena and therapist James
Brigante for treatment of depression and anxiety, abruptly cut off all

After six months of attempting to discover the reasons for the
termination of visitation, the Parlatos sued Jodi Gburek in Erie
County Family Court.

At that point, Jodi exhibited a letter written by therapist Brigante
on March 8, 2002 alleging that she had been sexually molested as a
child by Josephine Parlato and had only recently recovered memory of
such events. The Family Court judge gave the Parlatos "supervised
therapeutic visitation" with a licensed psychologist, which never
worked out in practice. As a result, the Parlatos have not been able
to see their grandson for seven years.

In February 2003, the Parlatos brought a libel action in New York
Supreme Court against Jodi Gburek and her husband, plus Dr. Cartagena
and Mr. Brigante, complaining that the 2002 letter written by Mr.
Brigante and endorsed by Dr. Cartagena in March 2002, was defamatory
and malicious. In March, 2007, after several exasperating delays, the
Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court sitting in
Rochester, New York, dismissed the Parlatos complaint against Dr.
Cartagena and Mr.Brigante, but confirmed their right to sue the

At the present time, the Parlatos, undaunted by long delays and stiff
opposition, are preparing for a jury trial against Jodi Gburek and her
husband. However, according to Lucian Parlato, he and his wife have
not given up on their fight against Jodi Gburek's professional
caretakers. They have served subpoenas on Cartagena and Brigante
commanding them to answer questions concerning the false allegations
made against them and their role in the scheme to squelch visitation.
They are further planning to initiate disciplinary proceedings in
appropriate New York State departments against Cartagena and Brigante
for their unprofessional and unethical conduct.

[1] 831 New York Supplement 2nd at page 805.

            Lamonica Found Guilty of Rape in Ponchatoula,
                    Louisiana Hosanna Church Trial
  Louisiana v. Lamonica, 2008-KK-2044, 21st Judicial District Court,
                   Parish of Tangipahoa, Louisiana.
On September 5, 2008, a jury found Louis Lamonica, 49, guilty of four
counts of aggravated rape against his two sons when they were young.
Lamonica, the former pastor of the Hosanna Church, is to be sentenced
on October 21 and faces a mandatory life in prison without parole.

Lamonica is the second of the seven members of the Hosanna Church in
Ponchatoula who were indicted in 2005 of child abuse that allegedly
took place, sometimes with satanic rituals, at the church. The first
co-defendant, a youth minister at the church, Austin "Trey" 
Bernard, III was convicted in December 2007 and is serving a life

Ponchatoula is a small, rural town halfway between New Orleans and
Baton Rouge situated on the northwest rim of Lake Pontchartrain. The
Assemblies of God Hosanna Church was started in 1975. It thrived,
growing to a congregation of almost 1,000, until the 1984 death of the
founder, Louis Lamonica's father (also named Louis Lamonica). After a
series of interim pastors, the church passed on to Lamonica in 1993.
Parishioners, however, left the church in droves and at some point the
church lost its Assemblies of God affiliation. There was no oversight.

The history of the Hosanna Church is relevant because Lamonica's
defense argued that he had confessed to crimes he had not committed
because he was under the sway of Lois Mowbray.[8] According to trial
testimony, a parishioner named Lois Mowbray became Hosanna's associate
pastor soon after Lamonica took over the church. Mowbray seems to have
been responsible for the fact that Sunday worship sermons were
replaced by many hours of praising God and altar calls in which
Mowbray told one of the congregants that he or she had to confess to a
sin (about which Mowbray had learned from God). Mowbray kept a
586-page journal in which other parishioners were supposed to write
out confessions to sex acts. [2] According to trial testimony, Mowbray
taught the "concept of spiritual thought, where lusting after a person
was the same as physically having sex."[3] Mowbray taught that if a
person thought about a sin, it was the same as if the person had done
it and the person had to confess it.

Mowbray insisted that Lamonica's sons write about abuse in her
book. When one son refused, Mowbray had his mother lock him in his
room and destroy all his belongings. He finally broke down and said he
had been abused.

According to his attorney, Lamonica refused to respond to the altar
call to confess. This caused Mowbray to make a concerted effort to get
him to change. She persuaded Lamonica's wife to force him to leave his
home and to live in the church. He had to work for $10. a day at an
electrical company that Mowbray and some other church members owned,
and he also had to clean the church. Other church members humiliated
and beat him.

One detective actually referred to Mowbray as the leader of the church
and suggested that there was much infighting among the congregation of
15.[4] Under the leadership of Lamonica and then Mowbray, the
congregation dwindled to 10 or 15 people. Worship consisted of
prophetically inspired public confessions and vomiting in order to
cast out demons of sin. One witness stated: "The worship team would
crowd around them and pray over them. This would make them start to
throw up."[4] By the time the church closed in 2003, it had become a
cult. One person testified that toward the end, strangers who might
come to service were turned away at the door. The church members had
virtually no contact with anyone outside the church.

Authorities first learned about the Hosanna church abuse accusations
in April 2005 when Nicole Bernard, wife of the youth minister at the
church, telephoned the Ponchatoula Sheriff's Office to say that her
daughter had been abused from infancy until she was three by Louis
Lamonica. The very next day, Lamonica walked into the sheriff's office
and described sexual offenses at the church which included his abusing
children for the past five or six years. The detective with whom he
spoke said that Lamonica was not confessing but trying to be helpful.
"He didn't come to turn himself in, he came to talk with us."[5]
Lamonica, however, was immediately arrested. Lamonica testified that
Mowbray told him that she had made a deal with the Sheriff's Office
that he would not be arrested if he told about the abuse and satanic
child-sex ring.

After the revelations by Lamonica, investigators used digging
equipment and cadaver dogs to search the grounds of the church. They
apparently hired Dawn Perlmutter, Ph.D. to help them in their search
for evidence of satanic cult activity, but no evidence was ever found.
After the expansive publicity about satanic activity, those charges
were dropped. Authorities did find hundred of pages of diaries written
by both Lamonica and the boys that described abuse.

In addition to the confession that Lamonica made to authorities, the
prosecution also presented testimony from four mental-health
professionals to whom his sons, now 18 and 22, had spoken of the abuse
in spring of 2005. In late 2005, however, both boys retracted their
abuse stories. They told the jury that they had never been abused and
said that their confessions were the result of Lois Mowbray's control.
Mowbray had directed their mother to make the boys write down
incidents of abuse. Mowbray and the mother would suggest topics to the
boys and they were supposed to fill in the details. The prosecution's
experts discounted the retractions.

One of the children's therapists said that his symptoms of Tourette's
Syndrome [6] got worse after he confessed. The doctor who treated the
Tourette's said that even though the boys had been threatened which
prompted their original confessions "The story was being told in a
consistent way in words that were consistent with their own
development level." A doctor who had found no physical evidence of any
abuse said that both false and true recantations are not unusual in
child abuse cases. A child might recant because he or she did not want
the parent to be arrested.[7]

The defense had planned to have an expert testify about how to judge
the veracity of abuse allegations made by children. The judge did not
allow this testimony saying that such testimony was inadmissible under
Louisiana state Supreme Court precedent because it is the jury and not
the expert who determines the truth of witness testimony.

The prosecution asked Lamonica why he suffered the humiliation an made
the confession. They wondered why he did not leave the cult. Lamonica
said that he confessed because he had come to believe that it was the
only way in which he could hold his family together. There appeared to
be no explanation for why Lamonica did not leave the church.

Assistant District Attorney Don Wall prosecuted the Lamonica case. The
defense attorney was Michael Thiel who also defended Austin Bernard,
III. State District Judge was Zoey Waguespack presided. It appears
that the next person to be tried will be Paul Fontenot, a member of
the Hosanna Church.

Reporter Debra Lemoine has covered the Hosanna Church case for the
Baton Rouge Advocate. The articles can be found on the paper's web

[1] See FMS Foundation Newsletter, 2008 Vol 17 No. 1)
[2] Grinberg, E. (2005, August 3). Claims of brainwashing, child abuse
    and a cult-like sex ring to be aired in
    court. CourtTVNews. Retrieved on 9/8/08 from
[3] Lemoine, D. (2008, September 1). Pastor's trial may resume this
    week. Retrieved on 9/9/08 from
[4] Lemoine, D. (2008, August 29). Hosanna church rites described as
    cultlike. Retrieved on 9/9/08 from
[5] Lyman, R. (2005, May 25). Sex charges follow a church's
    collapse. New York Times. Retrieved on 12/5/07 from
[6] Tourette's syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized
    by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and
    vocalizations called tics. Tics are often worse with excitement or
    anxiety and better during calm, focused activities.
[7] Lemoine, D. (2008, August 27). Experts testify on abuse. 2the Retrieved on 9/9/08 from
[8] Lemoine, D. (2008, August 30). Ex-Hosanna pastor: Confession
    forced. Retrieved on 9/9/08 from

/                                                                    \
| "Naturally, we found it strange for someone to confess to anything |
| without being asked, but he came in and admitted to some sexual    |
| acts with persons under age and to sex with animals. We couldn't   |
| very well let him go, and from there everything came to a domino   |
| effect."                                                           |
|                                Detective Supervisor Stan Carpenter |
|                            Quoted in Grinberg, E. (2005, August 3) |
|                            Claims of brainwashing, child abuse and |
|                         a cult-like sex ring to be aired in court. |
|                                 Court TV. Retrieved on 9/8/08 from |
|      |

             Does a Fraudulent Memoir Toll the Statute of
                    Limitations in Massachusetts?
                   Another Memoir Shown to be False

In February, 2008, Misha Defonseca confessed that her 1997 Holocaust
survival memoir, Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years was not true.
She made this acknowledgment only after a genealogical researcher
discovered the author's true identity as Monique De Wael. The
researcher posted Defonseca/De Wael's Belgium baptismal certificate
and elementary school attendance documents on the web, thus
documenting that the events in the book could not have happened as

Indeed, the memoir has strained credulity ever since it first
appeared, but until this year no one had been able to prove that it
was false. The preposterous story told how a young Jewish Misha
escaped the Nazis by surviving in the forest. She claimed that she
trekked thousands of miles, lived with a pack of wolves, and, at one
point, killed a German soldier in self-defense -- all this when she
was alleged between the ages of 7 and 11. Although it sold only 5,000
copies in the United States, the book was translated into 18
languages, was a best seller in Europe, was the subject of an Italian
opera, and was the basis of a recent French movie. The book features
blurbs from Elie Wiesel and from the head of the North American Wolf

In 2001, Defonseca and her ghostwriter won a $10.8 million jury award
against her United States publisher that the judge later tripled to
$32.4 million. The jury found that the publisher had failed to promote
the book in the United States and had also hidden profits. The authors
later settled for far less from Mt. Ivy Press, the small publisher
($425,000 to Defonseca and $250,000 to the ghostwriter).

This year, after it became known that the book was a fake, the Mt. Ivy
Press attempted to have the 2001 verdict overturned, arguing that the
statute of limitations on an appeal should not apply because the jury
sided with Defonseca, believing that her story was true. Massachusetts
Judge Timothy Feeley has yet to rule on the motion brought in a civil
case in Middlesex Superior Court.

  Kelsey, N. (2008, August 28). Author of faked Holocaust book fights
  to retain $32M verdict against publisher. StarTribune. Retrieved on
  8/30/08 from

  Eskin, B. (2008, February 29). Crying wolf: Why did it take so long
  for a far-fetched Holocaust memoir to be debunked? Slate. Retrieved
  on 7/25/08 from

         | "The charm, one might say the genius, of memory  |
         | is that it is choosy, chancy and temperamental." |
         |                                  Elizabeth Bowen |


The literary genre referred to as "misery memories" or "mis lit" is
not new, although the term seems fairly recent. Starting with David
Pelzer's1995 book A Child Called It and Frank McCourt's 1996
publication of Angela's Ashes, however, the genre skyrocketed in
popularity and sales, especially in Britain. Of the top 100
bestselling paperbacks in the UK in 2006, 11 were memoirs about
surviving abuse, representing 8.8% of sales.

Misery memoirs are those that tell shocking stories of abuse,
alcoholism, ruined childhoods and terrible traumas. Even celebrity
biographies have moved in the direction of misery memoirs, with the
rich and famous all too happy to "tell all." According to some
reports, however, sales of misery memoirs began to dip in 2007,
possibly because the misery in many of these books has proved
fraudulent.[1] Others think the market may have been sated. One
published commented: "I think the trouble is a number of the big
publishers are now doing a book a month. Even the most miserable
person in the world is being oversupplied by that volume."[2]

Satirists have been having a field day. A Newsletter reader brought
the topic of misery memoirs to our attention when he sent us the
following from the August 15, 2008 TLS and wondered if it was true:
"We are pleased to be exclusive bearers of news of a new literary
prize, the James Frey Misery Memoir Award."[3] The text goes on to
list memoirs that should be considered for the prize. When we searched
the web to investigate, we discovered many pieces poking fun at the
genre. In March, for example, the Guardian published "How to write a
misery memoir."[4] The secret? Ignore uncomfortable facts; Stretch the
truth; Study Dave Pelzer who has made a career out of being the
"world's most abused man by writing the same book over and over..."

A satirical interoffice memo from "Erewhon Publishing" appeared on 5] Corporate Counsel advised the Editorial team as
follows: "Many of you have commented on the recent scandals
surrounding fraudulent memoirists -- particularly Misha Defonseca, the
Belgian who manufactured a Holocaust past, and Margaret Jones, the
white Sherman Oaks, Calif., woman masquerading as a half-Native
American barrio gangsta. In response to public outcry, Erewhon
Publishing has instituted a stringent new 'cards on the table'
policy. In the future, every memoirist will be required to provide
evidence of his or her dysfunction: arrest records, needle tracks,
urine and stool samples..." The satire went on to list half-humorous
problems with famous books of the past.

Some have wondered why misery memoirs became so popular. One person
involved in publishing suggested that it is the message of "triumph
over tragedy" that appeals to readers. "Misery memoirs sound so
gloomy, but the overall message is 'you can get through life. Look, I
did and I'm famous.'"Another suggested that it "puts your own life
into perspective. You start to understand that your own life isn't all
that bad."[6]

Others are not so kind and suggest that there is an unsavory side to
the genre. London Times columnist Carol Sarler says, "they show that,
as a nation, we seem utterly in thrall to pedophilia.[8] We are
obsessed with it. And now, with these books, we are wallowing in the
muck of it." Another considers that the books "flatter readers' sense
of moral outrage while also secretly titillating."

Although we had no name for them, misery memoirs have been part and
parcel of the recovered memory phenomenon since its birth. Hundreds,
if not thousands, of people who believed they had recovered memories
or had been diagnosed with multiple personalities wrote memoirs about
their horrible childhoods. A great many -- to our knowledge -- were
self-published and the audiences negligible. Almost certainly, the
majority were written for personal therapy and in an effort to help
others. They have gone unchallenged. Some, such as Trudy Chase's When
Rabbit Howls [9] went on to be big sellers and to influence others in
the belief of the reality of recovered memories.

The sheer number of misery memoir hoaxes during the past 15-20 years
seems to speak of some need to say that survival alone is an
achievement. The avid response of readers seems similar to the way
that people respond to patients recounting stories of childhood abuse
they discovered in therapy. "Surely no one would tell such a horrible
story if it were not real."

Perhaps, readers are indeed starting to tire of so much misery.
Commenting about the heaviness of reading so many misery memoirs as a
part of her role as a judge for a fiction prize, columnist Bel Mooney
recently wrote:

  "We need reassurance that people will love, marry, live in harmony,
  die in peace. Too much bleakness can make us lose hope of a better
  world. The modern cult of misery -- which has infected children's
  fiction, too -- offers no such hope. The danger is that by dwelling
  too long in the gutter, we forget to look up at the stars."[8]

[1] West, E. (2008, March 5). Mis lit: Is this the end for the misery
    memoir? The Telegraph. Retrieved on 9/3/08 from
[2] Page, B. & Neill, G. (2008, April 23). Gloom envelops the misery
    memoir market. retrieved on 9/3/08 from
[3] C., J. (2008, August 15). Paying for it. Times Literary
    Supplement. Retrieved on 9/17/08 from,,25360-2652315_3,00.html
[4] Crace, J. (2008, March 6). How to write a misery memoir.
    Guardian. Retrieved on 9/15/08 from
[5] Bayard. L. (2008, March 7). Attention, all you memoir
    fabulists!. Retrieved on 9/3/08 from
[6] Johnston, J. (2006, October, 21). 'Tis the season to be sorry
    ... with misery memoirs. Sunday Herald. Retrieved on 9/15/08 from
[7] O'Neill, B. (2007, April 17). Misery lit... read on. BBC News
    Magazine. Retrieved on 8/28/08 from
[8] Mooney, B. (2008, March 20). A curse on these misery memoirs...How
    writers are making money through morbid stories. MailOnline.
    Retrieved on 9/16/08 from
[9] Chase, T. (1987). When Rabbit Howls. E.P. Dutton: New York.

              | "Remembrances embellish life but       |
              | forgetfulness alone makes it possible" |
              |                General Enrico Cialdini |

                   F R O M   O U R   R E A D E R S

                         I Waited A Long Time

For years I have been waiting for the right time to tell you about our
family's progress. It has been slow, with lots of bumps and bruises
along the way. Last week I helped make it possible for my oldest
daughter and my husband to see each other for the first time in 16
long years. He also got to see his 13-year-old granddaughter for the
first time and another granddaughter that he had known only as an
infant. How bittersweet it was!

After sending us "the letter" 16 years ago, my oldest daughter and her
family moved out of state. When she ended her 15-year marriage, she
wanted to be part of the family again, but with conditions. She said:
"from this day forward" and never once referred to the accusations,
"the elephant in the living room!"

Although her two sisters knew that the accusations were false, they
had very different relationships with the accuser. The youngest
daughter often intercepted ugly letters from her to save us further
grief. Her accusing sister sent her letters trying to lure her away
from us, calling us "abusive parents." She saw her sister only once
during the 16 years -- at the funeral of their grandmother. She is,
however, now back in loose contact with her, answering phone calls or
text messages, as well as acknowledging occasional presents by mail
for the children. She really doesn't want her oldest sister back in
her life. This is difficult, but she is wonderfully balanced between
her children, husband, job, friends and us. I believe that my youngest
daughter suffered much more then I realized at the time. Although we
had the support of the Foundation, she wasn't interested in reading
the wonderful newsletters.

It was the middle daughter who always kept in contact with her
accusing sister, often reassuring us that she was really on our side,
as were the rest of our relatives and friends. The middle daughter
remembered that her older sister used to be there for her when she was
in trouble. During the many years that we did not see our oldest
daughter, the middle daughter helped her with home repairs, bought
things for the children, and even loaned her money occasionally, if
the child support payments were late.

Because of our middle daughter's encouragement I agreed to meet her in
the city where the accusing daughter lived and together we would visit
her. We flew in from different states, but not until after I flew
first to Chicago to attend the October 2002 FMSF Conference on
Reconciliation! My dear roommate in Chicago was from Alaska, a person
many of you know. At the conference, several retractors convinced me
that I should accept my daughter without her recanting. That was not
an easy decision for me to make. I purchased a wonderful book with
stories reflecting both sides of the recovered memory debate, hoping
it would help my oldest daughter understand what had happened. She
trashed it, but the visit went well considering the circumstances. The
girls felt awkward and still do.

A few more visits and meetings followed, none with my husband. He
wasn't ready...until last week. We were planning our annual drive
North from Florida and I urged that we take a detour to visit our
oldest daughter. My husband agreed. What had changed? During the past
year he happened to answer the telephone when our oldest daughter
called and the two of them talked a little. He told me that if we
stopped to visit, there could be absolutely no hugs. Because were
planning to meet at a public place, I encouraged him to just let it
happen, without making a scene.

The meeting, fortunately, did go well. He told me later that she said
to him "I love you and I forgive you." He responded, "I love you,
too." Our other daughters and our friends and relatives all applauded
at a distance, as did I.

But this is not a "happily ever after" ending -- at least not yet. We
believe that when our once sweet daughter sought marriage counseling
that her real problem was that she had a bi-polar disorder. There are
many behavioral indications that this is the case and we believe that
she still needs professional help. At this time, rebuilding trust
between us is hampered by her seeing "visions" as well as insisting
that her father "admit" his guilt.

Our lives are fragile and so is my husband's health. We have learned,
however, not to be consumed by grief. We count our many other
blessings and live in the present, one day at a time. We are glad that
we could both meet with our daughter and our life is better for it. We
hope that the relationship continues to improve.
                                                        Not just a mom

/                                                                    \
|                        HUNGRY FOR MONSTERS                         |
|                                                                    |
| A limited supply of the VHS version of the remarkable documentary  |
| Hungry for Monsters is available through the FMSF at the reduced   |
| price of $15.00 (includes postage). (Foreign price is $20.00)      |
| Hungry for Monsters is the account of one family's ordeal with     |
| memory-focused psychotherapy, the cultivation of memories, and     |
| accusations of sexual abuse. It is an excellent resource for       |
| showing others how someone can come to believe in abuse that never |
| happened and the tragic consequences that enivatibly follow.       |
|                                                                    |
|         DVD version is available at full price on Amazon.          |
|               For full description of the video see:               |
|                     |
|                                                                    |
|         To order VHS send check for $15 to FMS Foundation.         |

*                           N O T I C E S                            *
*                                                                    *
*                      WEB  SITES  OF  INTEREST                      *
*                                                                    *
*                we                *
*                          Elizabeth Loftus                          *
*                                                                    *
*                      *
*                       Against Satanic Panics                       *
*                                                                    *
*                         *
*            The Lampinen Lab False Memory Reading Group             *
*                       University of Arkansas                       *
*                                                                    *
*                              *
*                  The Exploratorium Memory Exhibit                  *
*                                                                    *
*                                       *
*                     The Memory Debate Archives                     *
*                                                                    *
*                                        *
*                     French False Memory Group                      *
*                                                                    *
*                  *
*             The Bobgans question Christian counseling              *
*                                                                    *
*                                       *
*                   Illinois-Wisconsin FMS Society                   *
*                                                                    *
*                                   *
*                             Ohio Group                             *
*                                                                    *
*                                           *
*                Australian False Memory Association.                *
*                                                                    *
*                                           *
*                    British False Memory Society                    *
*                                                                    *
*                        *
*               Information about Satanic Ritual Abuse               *
*                                                                    *
*                                      *
*                   Parents Against Cruel Therapy                    *
*                                                                    *
*                               *
*                       New Zealand FMS Group                        *
*                                                                    *
*                                     *
*          Site run by Bruce Robinson contains information           *
*             about Christchurch Creche and other cases.             *
*                                                                    *
*                                       *
*                       Netherlands FMS Group                        *
*                                                                    *
*                                   *
*           National Child Abuse Defense & Resource Center       *
*                                                                    *
*                                  *
*                  Excerpts from Victims of Memory.                  *
*                                                                    *
*                          *
*                         Ross Institute                             *
*                                                                    *
*                                *
*                 FMS in Scandinavia -- Janet Hagbom                 *
*                                                                    *
*                                  *
*           English language web site of Dutch retractor.            *
*                                                                    *
*                                        *
*             This site is run by Stephen Barrett, M.D.              *
*                                                                    *
*                                    *
*            Contains information about filing complaints            *
*                                                                    *
*                                        *
*                  False Memory Syndrome Foundation                  *
*                                                                    *
*                     LEGAL WEBSITES OF INTEREST                     *
*                                        *
*                                           *
*                                       *
*                                           *
*                                                                    *
*            The Rutherford Family Speaks to FMS Families            *
*                                                                    *
* The video made by the Rutherford family is the most popular video  *
* of FMSF families. It covers the complete story from accusation, to *
* retraction and reconciliation. Family members describe the things  *
* they did to cope and to help reunite. Of particular interest are   *
* Beth Rutherford's comments about what her family did that helped   *
* her to retract and return.                                         *
*                   Available in DVD format only:                    *
*                      To order send request to                      *
*                    FMSF Video, 1955 Locust St.                     *
*                      Philadelphia, PA  19103                       *
*    $10.00 per DVD; Canada add $4.00; other countries add $10.00    *
*               Make checks payable to FMS Foundation                *
*                                                                    *
*                         Don't Miss It!                             *
*                    Coming in November 2008                         *
*                                                                    *
*              Try to Remember: Psychiatry's Clash                   *
*                 Over Meaning, Memory, and Mind                     *
*                                                                    *
*                       Paul McHugh, M.D.                            *
*                   Washington, DC: Dana Press                       *
*                                                                    *
*                       RECOMMENDED  BOOKS                           *
*                                                                    *
*                       REMEMBERING TRAUMA                           *
*                       by Richard McNally                           *
*                    Harvard University Press                        *
*                                                                    *
*          S. O. Lilienfeld, S.J. Lynn and J.M. Lohr (eds.)          *
*                  New York: Guilford Press (2003)                   *
*                                                                    *
*                         PSYCHOLOGY ASTRAY:                         *
*  Fallacies in Studies of "Repressed Memory" and Childhood Trauma   *
*                   by Harrison G. Pope, Jr., M.D.                   *
*                            Upton Books                             *
                F M S    B U L L E T I N    B O A R D

Contacts & Meetings:

  See Georgia
  Kathleen 907-333-5248
        Pat 480-396-9420
  Little Rock
        Al & Lela 870-363-4368
        Jocelyn 530-570-1862
  San Francisco & North Bay 
        Charles 415-435-9618
  San Francisco & South Bay
        Eric 408-738-0469
  East Bay Area
        Judy 925-952-4853
  Central Coast
        Carole 805-967-8058
  Palm Desert
        Eileen and Jerry 909-659-9636
  Central Orange County
        Chris & Alan 949-733-2925
  Covina Area 
        Floyd & Libby 626-357-2750
  San Diego Area 
        Dee 760-439-4630
  Colorado Springs
        Doris 719-488-9738
  S. New England
        Paul 203-458-9173
        Madeline 954-966-4FMS
  Central Florida -- Please call for mtg. time
        John & Nancy 352-750-5446
        Francis & Sally 941-342-8310
  Tampa Bay Area
        Bob & Janet 727-856-7091
        Wallie & Jill 770-971-8917
  Chicago & Suburbs -- 1st Sun. (MO)
        Eileen 847-985-7693 or
        Liz & Roger 847-827-1056
        Bryant & Lynn 309-674-2767
  Indiana Assn. for Responsible Mental Health Practices
        Pat 260-489-9987
        Helen 574-753-2779
  Wichita -- Meeting as called
        Pat 785-762-2825
  Louisville- Last Sun. (MO) @ 2pm
        Bob 502-367-1838
        Sarah 337-235-7656
        Carolyn 207-364-8891
  Portland - 4th Sun.(MO)
        Bobby 207-878-9812
        Carol 410-465-6555
   Andover -- 2nd Sun. (MO) @ 1pm
        Frank 978-263-9795
  Greater Detroit Area
        Nancy 248-642-8077
  Ann Arbor
        Martha 734-439-4055
        Terry & Collette 507-642-3630
        Dan & Joan 651-631-2247
  Kansas City  --  Meeting as called
        Pat 785-738-4840
  Springfield -- Quarterly, 4th Sat. of 
        Apr., Jul., Oct, Jan. @12:30pm
        Tom 417-753-4878
        Roxie 417-781-2058
  Lee & Avone 406-443-3189
  Jean 603-772-2269
  Mark 802-872-0847
  Sally 609-927-4147 (Southern)
  Nancy 973-729-1433 (Northern)
  Albuquerque  -2nd Sat. (bi-MO) @1 pm
  Southwest Room -- Presbyterian Hospital
        Maggie 505-662-7521 (after 6:30 pm)
        Sy 505-758-0726
  Westchester, Rockland, etc.
        Barbara 914-922-1737
  Upstate/Albany Area
        Elaine 518-399-5749
  Susan 704-538-7202
        Bob & Carole 440-356-4544
  Oklahoma City
        Dee 405-942-0531
  Portland area
        Kathy 503-655-1587
        Paul & Betty 717-691-7660
        Rick & Renee 412-563-5509
        John 717-278-2040
  Wayne (includes S. NJ) -- 2nd Sat. (MO)
        Jim & Jo 610-783-0396
  Nashville -- Wed. (MO) @1pm
        Kate 615-665-1160
        Jo or Beverly 713-464-8970
   El Paso
        Mary Lou 915-595-2966
  Keith 801-467-0669
  Mark 802-872-0847
  See Oregon
  Katie & Leo 414-476-0285 or
  Susanne & John 608-427-3686
  Alan & Lorinda 307-322-4170

  Vancouver & Mainland 
        Lloyd 250-741-8941
  Victoria & Vancouver Island
        John 250-721-3219
  Roma 204-275-5723
        Adriaan 519-471-6338
        Eileen 613-836-3294
        Ken & Marina 905-637-6030
        Paula 705-543-0318
  FMS ASSOCIATION fax 972-2-625-9282 
  Colleen 09-416-7443
  Ake Moller FAX 48-431-217-90
  The British False Memory Society
        Madeline 44-1225 868-682
           Deadline for the FALL 2008 issue is December 10.
                  Meeting notices MUST be in writing
    And should be sent no later than TWO MONTHS PRIOR TO MEETING.

|          Do you have access to e-mail?  Send a message to          |
|                                         |
| 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". It would be useful, but |
| not necessary,  if you add your full name (all addresses and names |
| will remain strictly confidential).                                |
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.

PAMELA FREYD, Ph.D.,  Executive Director

FMSF Scientific and Professional Advisory Board,       October 1, 2008

AARON T. BECK, M.D., D.M.S., U of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA;
TERENCE W. CAMPBELL, Ph.D., Clinical and Forensic Psychology, 
    Sterling Heights, MI;
ROSALIND CARTWRIGHT, Ph.D., Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's 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, Philadelphia, PA;
HENRY C. ELLIS, Ph.D., University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM;
FRED H. FRANKEL, MBChB, DPM, Harvard University Medical School;
GEORGE K. GANAWAY, M.D., Emory University of Medicine, Atlanta, GA;
MARTIN GARDNER, Author, Hendersonville, NC;
ROCHEL GELMAN, Ph.D., Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ;
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;
JOHN HOCHMAN, M.D., UCLA Medical School, Los Angeles, CA;
DAVID S. HOLMES, Ph.D., University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS;
ROBERT A. KARLIN, Ph.D. , Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ;
ELIZABETH LOFTUS, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine, CA;
SUSAN L. McELROY, M.D., University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH;
PAUL McHUGH, M.D., Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD;
HAROLD MERSKEY, D.M., University of Western Ontario, London, Canada;
ULRIC NEISSER, Ph.D., Cornell University, Ithaca, NY;
RICHARD OFSHE, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, CA;
EMILY CAROTA ORNE, B.A., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA;
LOREN PANKRATZ, Ph.D., Oregon Health Sciences Univ., Portland, OR;
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, Boston, MA;
JAMES RANDI, Author and Magician, Plantation, FL;
HENRY L. ROEDIGER, III, Ph.D. ,Washington University, St. Louis, MO;
CAROLYN SAARI, Ph.D., Loyola University, Chicago, IL;
MICHAEL A. SIMPSON, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., M.R.C, D.O.M., Center for
    Psychosocial & Traumatic Stress, Pretoria, South Africa;
RALPH SLOVENKO, J.D., Ph.D., Wayne State University Law School,
    Detroit, MI;
JEFFREY VICTOR, Ph.D., Jamestown Community College, Jamestown, NY;
HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD, M.A., Institute of Psychological Therapies, 
    Northfield, MN;
CHARLES A. WEAVER, III, Ph.D. Baylor University, Waco, TX

   Advisors to whom we are grateful who are now deceased:

DAVID A. HALPERIN, M.D., Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 
    New York, NY; 
ERNEST HILGARD, Ph.D., Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA; 
PHILIP S. HOLZMAN, Ph.D., Harvard University, Cambridge; 
HAROLD LIEF, M.D., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; 
MARTIN ORNE, M.D., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 
    Philadelphia, PA; 
CAMPBELL PERRY, Ph.D., Concordia University, Montreal, Canada; 
THEODORE SARBIN, Ph.D., University of California, Santa Cruz, CA;
THOMAS A. SEBEOK, Ph.D., Indiana University, Bloomington, IN; 
MARGARET SINGER, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, CA; 
DONALD SPENCE, Ph.D., Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center, 
    Piscataway, NJ.

                     YOUR CONTRIBUTION WILL HELP
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                    THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROSITY.