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Repressed Memory Versus False Memory - The False Memory Syndrome Foundation, Studies On False Memories, Trauma And Dissociation, Betrayal Trauma Theory

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In the early 1900s Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud first proposed the theory of repression, which hypothesizes that the mind can reject unpleasant ideas, desires, and memories by banishing them into the unconscious. Some clinicians believe that memory repression explains why a victim of a traumatic experience, such as childhood sexual abuse, may forget the horrible incident. Some also believe that forgotten traumatic experiences can be recovered later.

In 1988 Ellen Bass and Laura Davis wrote The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1988). It has been described as the "bible" of the recovered-memory movement. The authors claimed that Freud was right about his theory that the physical symptoms of hysteria in his patients were indicative of childhood sexual abuse. They listed such symptoms as feeling powerless and having trouble feeling motivated as signs that a person had experienced childhood sexual abuse.

Proponents of recovered-memory therapy are convinced their patients cannot heal until they confront their memories. Some clinical therapists believe that memories rediscovered through hypnosis and other recovery techniques are true and that they must be acknowledged in order for treatment to be successful. Some have been known to recommend that patients cut off all ties with their families to speed up recovery.

Some memory researchers do not agree, saying that children who have suffered serious psychological trauma do not repress the memory; rather, they can never forget it. They cite the examples of survivors of concentration camps or children who have witnessed the murder of a parent who never forget. These researchers believe that memory is inaccurate and that it can be manipulated to "remember" events that never happened. Many mental health professionals warn the public about believing persons who have no training in mental health. For example, they note that authors Bass and Davis were not licensed therapists. Bass was a creative writing teacher, and Davis was a student in one of her writing workshops.

Measuring Researching and Monitoring the Quality of Health Care - The U.s. Department Of Health And Human Services, Centers For Disease Control And Prevention [next] [back] Reporting Child Abuse - Mandatory Reporting, Who Reports Child Maltreatment?, Failure To Report Maltreatment, Why Mandated Reporters Fail To Report Suspected Maltreatment

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over 10 years ago

The story below by Mrs. Beverly Heckford is sad, but, sadly, significant parts of it are untrue. I know this because I am the bastard daughter whose life was supposedly ruined by a therapist. My mother does not know me, does not know my story, and has fabricated the significant details she cites in the second half of her essay in regards to my experiences and my sister's involvement. I originally went into therapy for an eating disorder and severe wake-up-screaming nightmares nearly 10 years before discovering anything about my birth, a fact my mother refuses to hear. The therapist she mentions never hypnotized me, and the focus was never on my molestation. Furthermore, I have never been hypnotized by any of the therapists I have worked with over the years, nor has our focus been on the past except incidently. I find it ironic that my mother had been willing to accept that I was molested--even providing possible names and opportunities--until I insisted the molestation occurred in her home town when I was four: it was only then that she began screaming I had been hypnotized and manipulated by therapists. The stories she cites in support of her claim are fabrications, based on an iota of truth she barely heard and has now twisted beyond recognition. I have tried repeatedly to discuss these issues, but she insists that I am either controlled by evil therapists who have brain-wiped me or by my "bad blood." When she sent me her essay two years ago, I tried one last time to clarify events; I am horrified to find that same essay online, posted as truth. Personally, I am very grateful to the therapists who have worked with me. In spite of my resentment of and resistance to the need for therapy, they have helped me assemble a framework for living each day with joy, regardless of my experiences in childhood. My decision to sever contact with the parents whom I love was mine and mine alone, as I refuse to accept the fabrications of truth I have been asked to support, the constant threats of being disowned, and the repeated references to my bad blood. My greatest sorrow is that my mother has never had the assistance that might have benefited her, my dad, and, ultimately, their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

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over 12 years ago

The handsome, well liked man, Jack, who rented a house from my parents and next door, gave me a most expensive beautiful doll every year from my first birthday. I had three dolls when he intended to rape me, so I was three but not four. I don’t need a clinical therapist to bring that memory back even though I coped with it by deeply burying it.

I never think of it without a trigger like hearing about some child having the same problem. He had my clothes off and I was telling him I had to have pajamas on to go to bed. I wanted to know what that thing was and he said it was just like a rope. My mother’s calling for me scared him and saved me. He scared me so that I didn’t tell until I was around six when he died and I told my mother I was glad he did.

Years later, another popular man, high up in the Masonic Lodge, a father of a young family, and new in our town, raped me. I don’t remember how old I was but I think about twelve. As an adult I know he planned it. When I screamed that I would tell he intimidated me about why I could never tell. He stole my life and destroyed all of my wonderful dreams.

Rape of a child is murder. It all ended when I gave birth to his child at the age of seventeen. When I was eighteen, I married a man, now my husband of fifty years, who adopted the little girl. We did not want her to know about her real father who had also raped his own daughters. (And they don’t need a therapist to help them recall any hidden memory) My family and everyone agreed to never let her know. The memories were buried and I would need a “trigger” to recall that the little girl was not my husband’s biological child.

The “trigger” occurred when the little girl was herself the mother of four older children because a Wheatland County official disclosed her version of the story several years ago to one of our daughters. She said she was going to tell her sister though we told her good reasons not to. When she insisted we asked that she let us tell in person.

The California daughter got the devastating news with a phone call from her younger half-sister. She went for help to some female therapist in San Diego. That therapist ruined the life of our daughter. She has distressed ours. She would take whatever simple little thing that our daughter remembered and turn it into either a thing of sex or violence using her own nasty imagination to give our grown daughter a life she NEVER had. A terrible life that DID NOT HAPPEN . . .We have lost that daughter because of it.

Just one example of many horrendous changes is that Josie was born sucking her thumb. The doctor and nurses laughed about it because it was shriveled. Our little girl who had never heard anyone even talk loud, heard my mother let out a “scream” because Josie opened an unlocked bathroom door where her grandfather was bathing. No big deal for a two and a half year old child. The therapist said that thumb sucking meant she had been raped and twisted this occurrence into a rape.

The false and crazy repressed memories that therapist planted by hypnosis in our daughter’s brain are being used against us by an evil daughter-in-law who in an attempt to get her children back that the courts had removed from her. She has promised her children that they will have a big house to live in. (Supplied by your taxes) Slandering and discrediting anyone who has helped her children have a good life instead of the abused life she had forced upon them, she found our therapist controlled daughter to be the means that she needed.